On March 11, 2016 the Ecology, Spirituality, and Religion program hosted its first Religion and Ecology Summit at CIIS, a one-day conference which invited leaders of environmental organizations and public land managers into dialogue with faculty and students of religious studies, philosophy, and theology programs. Together, these scholar-practitioners explored the transformational possibilities of incorporating ecological concerns into religious education and integrated spiritual perspectives into environmental protection and activism. The conference became a catalyst for scholarly growth for those involved in the field of Religion and Ecology, and professional development for students and professionals in the Bay Area.
This conference drew from the rich intellectual and cultural resources of the San Francisco Bay Area. Students and faculty identified opportunities for interdisciplinary and cross-sector alliances that could enhance the effectiveness of both environmental organizing and higher education in religious studies and theology. The conference had three central goals:
- To initiate and nurture a regional conversation around the relationship of religious education, belief, and practice with environmental issues;
- To expand and strengthen the network of Bay Area American Academy of Religion (AAR) members interested in the field of Religion and Ecology; and
- To develop career pathways for graduate students studying Religion and Ecology.
The conference featured an opening keynote address by Mary Evelyn Tucker of the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale.
A second keynote speaker —mathematical cosmologist and CIIS faculty member Brian Thomas Swimme—gave closing remarks at the end of the day.
Funding for this conference was provided by the American Academy of Religion (AAR) Regional Development Grant and the Philosophy and Religion department at CIIS.