CIIS President Wexler's February Newsletter Message
One of the greatest and most devastating illusions of our time is that we are separate from nature. In a world where products and services are readily replenished and technology pulls our gaze down rather than up or out, it can be easy to overlook our connection to the natural world, and even to our immediate environment.
The reality is that we are a planetary ecosystem-a vast and intricate community of living things. And while we as human beings have evolved as leaders of this community, mounting evidence shows that systemic denial, distraction, and distortion are thwarting us from succeeding at this task.
CIIS stands alongside other leaders and activists who recognize that climate change and biodiversity loss are indicative of a crisis of values and consciousness. And that if we are to address and transform this conflict in a sustainable way, we must, as individuals and groups, grow together in resilience and work to put justice into action.
To this end, I'm proud to announce that CIIS will be sponsoring two dynamic events on environmental sustainability. On March 15, 2019, we will convene the fourth annual Religion and Ecology Summit, hosted by the Ecology, Spirituality, and Religion program. The Summit builds on the work of theologian Thomas Berry who, as early as the 1970s, recognized the challenging dynamics of modernity and the environment. Speakers include an array of CIIS faculty and alums, as well as notable scholars in the field of religion and ecology including Mary Evelyn Tucker and Matthew Fox.
Additionally, on May 30 and 31, we will host the fifth annual Conference of the World-Ecology Research Network. This year's theme is "Planetary Utopia, Capitalist Dystopias: Justice, Nature & the Liberation of Life." The conference is sponsored by the Department of Anthropology and Social Change. Participants at each of these events will have the opportunity to engage with leading intellectuals and activists who are working to address the planetary crisis and rethinking possibilities for the future.
In this year of extreme weather, the effects of environmental degradation on everyday life have been vividly clear. We invite you to connect with others who are studying the issues, envisioning new possibilities, and engaging with change. In community we are better able to find the resilience to address problems of this scope. Please join us for both of these important events.