The International Society for the Study of
Religion, Nature & Culture
Celebrating its 10th Anniversary
GENESIS (a brief history)
Since the early 1990s, scholars have discussed the formation of a scholarly society to facilitate regular, interdisciplinary communication, discussion, and research into the relationships between people, their religious beliefs and practices, environments, and cultures.
Beginning in 2005 faculty and students in the Graduate Program in Religion and Nature at the University of Florida initiated an open invitation to scholars interested in forming an interdisciplinary society. The process led to the formation of the ISSRNC. (See March 2005 Newsletter for more information about the initial invitation and process.)
Encouraged by strong initial interest, Bron Taylor (University of Florida, USA) and Kristina Tiedje (University of Lyon 2, France) convened a planning meeting for Cocoa Beach (Florida) in September 2005. An international group of scholars developed and endorsed draft bylaws for governing the new organization. Participants selected an interim board of directors to plan an inaugural conference, apply for a tax-exempt, charitable/educational organization status with the United States Internal Revenue Service, and organize a democratic election process. On 28 December 2005 the draft Constitution and Bylaws were adopted by the interim executive board to govern the ISSRNC until elections were completed. (See the ISSRNC’s October 2005 newsletter, vol. 1, #1, for details on the Cocoa Beach meeting.) Additional briefings and conversations were held with scholars attending the American Academy of Religion and American Anthropological Association meetings later that fall.
Six months after the initial planning meeting in April 2006, the inaugural conference "Exploring Religion, Nature, & Culture," was held at the University of Florida. A great success, the event drew more than 150 presenters and 200 registrants from over two dozen nations, and included keynote presentations from Carolyn Merchant and Stephen Kellert. The event is described in the ISSRNC's June 2006 newsletter, vol. 1, #2 with further details below. The quality and range of scholarship is clear from the final conference program.
Well attended, the 2006 conference provided the critical mass of scholars necessary to form a successful formal organization. The first Board of Directors were elected in September 2006. (See the ISSRNC's November 2006 newsletter, vol. 1, #3, for details about the election and future plans.). ISSRNC members hail from over two dozen nations, and officers were elected from Norway, France, the Netherlands, and the United States. With the election process complete, the Constitution and Bylaws governing the ISSRNC were formally established.
In October 2006 the ISSRNC appointed Dr. Terry Terhaar as part-time, Executive Director. The ISSRNC also received its official approval from the US Internal Revenue Service as a tax exempt charitable organization.
Remarkably, only fifteen months after the decision to establish the organization, the ISSRNC could boast of 116 members in good standing.
In 2007, building on this initial momentum, the ISSRNC determined that a second international conference "The Re-Enchantment of Nature across Disciplines: Critical Intersections of Science, Ethics, and Metaphysics,"would be held in Morelia, Mexico, during January 2008.. The Board of Directors established a strong team of scholars and institutions to host the event, negotiated an agreement to co-sponsor the conference with the Society for the Anthropology of Religion, and submitted grants in an effort to ensure financial assistance for under-funded scholars. Again, the final conference program was testimony of the event's quality. The Board of Directors also undertook a major website update to facilitate membership renewals and conference payments, and to offer enhanced membership services.
For further information about the ISSRNC’s formative years see its newsletters, and updates will be made available here and will appear in the ISSRNC’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
– An open invitation
was issued and disseminated widely, inviting scholars from diverse disciplines to a September planning meeting.
– An update
and detailed invitation to a planning meeting was provided to scholars who had expressed interest, who were encouraged to forward more widely the invitation.
– The planning meeting was held at Cocoa Beach, Florida, with Hurricane / Tropical Storm Ophelia spinning 85 miles off shore, providing exciting breaks for the participants. During the meeting twenty scholars from the United States and Europe agreed to establish the ISSRNC and on a process for moving forward, which included a consensus selection of an interim executive board to do so. Details about the meeting can be found in the ISSRNC newsletter (v. 1#1)
November – A listening and brainstorming session, organized by executive committee member Mark Wallace, was held at Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania, November 17-18, 2005, shortly before the nearby Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion. Similar connections were made at the American Anthropological Association's annual meeting.
December – The Interim Executive Committee refined and approved bylaws that would govern the ISSRNC during the interim period and after envisioned elections. Successful fundraising followed and plans were solidified for the inaugural conference. Outreach to members of other professional societies continued.
January – Bylaws and documents requesting designation as a 501(c)(3) charitable/educational organization were sent to the Internal Revenue Service.
February – Interim Executive Committee establishes time line and procedures for a September 2006 election.
– The inaugural conference was held at the University of Florida, drawing more than 150 participants from over two dozen countries. Details can be found in the ISSRNC Newsletter (v. 1, #2)
– Elections were held officially establishing the organization, its Board of Directors, and approving the Constitution and Bylaws
. Directors assumed responsibility for ISSRNC development. Details can be found in the ISSRNC Newsletter v. (1, #3)
October – Executive Director Dr. Terry Terhaar was hired (part-time); official approval was received from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service of the ISSRNC's 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.
December –The year ended with 116 members in good standing.
January – Plans were announced for a second ISSRNC conference in Morelia Mexico, January 2008.
March –The first issue of the ISSRNC-affiliated Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture was published.
May –The Society for the Anthropology of Religion agreed to co-sponsor the conference in Morelia, Mexico.
April - September
– Intensive work was undertaken to re-design religionandnature.com
, which hosts the ISSRNC. With the launch members and others could enjoy improved navigability and the efficiency of online conference and membership payments. The redesign also established a solid platform for future website development, including an envisioned member-only login domain, and a lively Forum section for news and information about the intersection of religion, nature, and culture.
January – Second International Conference of the ISSRNC, Morelia, Mexico.
July – The third international conference of ISSRNC, “Religion, Nature, and Progress,” was held at the University of Amsterdam.
December – The fourth international conference of ISSRNC, “Living on the Edge,” was held at the University of Western Australia in Perth, Australia.
October – ISSRNC co-sponsored a conference with Vatican Museums, “Religion, Nature, and Art,” held in Vatican City.
August – The fifth international conference of ISSRNC, “Nature and the Popular Imagination,” was held in Malibu, California at Pepperdine University.
From 2005-2006 the ISSRNC produced newsletters to keep scholars abreast on developments; found below, these now provide historical background on the formation of the ISSRNC.
ISSRNC announcements and news have moved to Facebook
; programs from previous conferences are on Academia.edu
Vol 1, #3, November 2006
(election special! — plus important information on future events and next steps in ISSRNC development)
Vol 1, #2, June 2006
(special on the inaugural meeting and future of the ISSRNC)
Vol 1, #1, October 2005
(special on the formation of the ISSRNC)
Vol 0, March 2005
(open invitation to participate in the ISSRNC initiative)
Earlier updates related to the formation of the ISSRNC:
September 2005 update
on developments subsequent to the September 2005 planning meeting at Cocoa Beach, Florida
June 2005 update
on developments prior to the September 2005 Cocoa Beach meeting.