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Forum on Religion and Ecology: Spotlights
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Forum on Religion and Ecology: Spotlights

Author: Sam Mickey

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A series of interviews from the Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology, focusing on people and organizations working at the confluence of religious and ecological perspectives. Interviews cover four main areas: 1) new and forthcoming publications, 2) engagement in practice, activism, and advocacy, 3) teaching and curriculum, and 4) perspectives from environmental humanities. Our Vision is a flourishing Earth community where religious and spiritual traditions join together for the shared wellbeing of ecosystems, life forms, and people on our common planetary home.You can watch the video recordings of this podcast here: https://fore.yale.edu/Resources/Multimedia/Video/FORE-Spotlights-Archive/
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This week's episode of the Forum on Religion and Ecology podcast features Norman Wirzba, PhD, the Gilbert T. Rowe Distinguished Professor of Theology at Duke University, and Senior Fellow at Duke's Kenan Institute for Ethics. He discusses his new book, This Sacred Life: Humanity's Place in a Wounded World (Cambridge University Press, 2021), which gives a deep philosophical and religious articulation of humanity's identity and vocation by rooting people in a symbiotic, meshwork world that is saturated with sacred gifts. We reflect on numerous topics, including the Anthropocene, transhumanism, food, faith, farming, creativity, and much more.
This is a clip from the episode of Spotlights  featuring Matthew David Segall, PhD, Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religion in the Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness program at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Reflecting on his new book, Physics of the World-Soul: Alfred North Whitehead’s Adventure in Cosmology (SacraSage Press, 2021), he describes the role of worldly divinity in Whitehead's cosmology. You can listen to the full episode here.
This episode of Spotlights features Matthew David Segall, PhD, Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religion in the Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness program at the California Institute of Integral Studies. He discusses his new book, Physics of the World-Soul: Alfred North Whitehead’s Adventure in Cosmology (SacraSage Press, 2021), describing the context and key concepts of Whitehead's process philosophy. We reflect on Whiteheadian contributions to debates on a variety of topics, including panpsychism, panentheism, environmental ethics, dialogue between science and religion, and the future of philosophy.
Welcome to a new season of Spotlights. This podcast began around a year ago, and since we’re starting our second year, this episode features our host, Sam Mickey, reflecting on the year and looking ahead toward the year to come. He talks about the aim, scope, and themes of the podcast, while also inviting suggestions for any new developments or potential interviewees. He also mentions the Religion and Ecology Early-Career Scholar reading group (REECS), which was launched on episode 17, featuring Russell Powell and Timothy Grieve-Carlson. For anyone interested in participating in that ongoing group, details can be found in the original episode here.Thanks to everyone for participating in this podcast as guests or audience members so far. If you would like to watch this podcast instead of listening to audio only, you can find an archive of videos for episodes here.
This week’s episode of Spotlights is a remix of two previous episodes, featuring guests who work at the intersection of Buddhism and ecology. First, we hear from Dekila Chungyalpa, Director of the Loka Initiative at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She discusses her personal journey into the world of Buddhist environmentalism. Then we hear from Chris Ives, PhD, Professor of Religious Studies at Stonehill College. He discusses his teaching and research in Buddhist environmental ethics, specifically with a view to Zen Buddhism. Links for their full episodes: Dekila Chungyalpa & Chris Ives. More information on Buddhism and ecology can be found at the Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology website.
This week’s episode of Spotlights is another short clip from our full episode with Dr. Todd LeVasseur, visiting assistant professor in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. We discuss the importance of integrating activism into academia in order to facilitate viable responses to the climate emergency. We reflect on this issue for academia in general and for the academic field and activist force of religion and ecology in particular.You can listen to the full episode here.
This week’s episode of Spotlights is a clip from our full episode with Dr. Todd LeVasseur, visiting assistant professor in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. Reflecting on his new book, Climate Change, Religion, and our Bodily Future, he discusses the profound importance of religious studies and academia getting climate change right. You can listen to the full episode here.
 This week’s episode features Dr. Todd LeVasseur, visiting assistant professor in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the College of Charleston in South Carolina, where he is also the director of the Sustainability Literacy Institute. We discuss his recently published book, Climate Change, Religion, and our Bodily Future (Rowman & Littlefield, 2021), including topics related to posthumanism, queer ecologies, ecological animisms, indigenous knowledges, material feminisms, deep adaptation, and more. We also discuss “A (Tough) Love Letter to Religious Studies,” which he wrote for Religion Dispatches in February 2021.You can find more information about religion and climate change at the Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology website. 
This week’s episode of Spotlights is another short clip from our episode featuring Rabbi Laura Duhan Kaplan, PhD, Director of Inter-religious Studies and Professor of Jewish Studies at Vancouver School of Theology in British Columbia, Canada. In this clip, Rabbi Laura talks about the symbolic meaning of donkeys in the Bible as well as the question of animal agency or personhood, reflecting on her book, Mouth of the Donkey: Re-imagining Biblical Animals (Wipf & Stock, 2021). Listen to the full episode here or watch it here.
This week’s episode of Spotlights is a short clip from our episode featuring Rabbi Laura Duhan Kaplan, PhD, Director of Inter-religious Studies and Professor of Jewish Studies at Vancouver School of Theology in British Columbia, Canada. Reflecting on her book, Mouth of the Donkey: Re-imagining Biblical Animals (Wipf & Stock, 2021), she discusses questions of anthropocentrism, the ethical treatment of animals, and the order of creation. Listen to the full episode here or watch it here.
This week’s episode of Spotlights features Rabbi Laura Duhan Kaplan, PhD, Director of Inter-religious Studies and Professor of Jewish Studies at Vancouver School of Theology in British Columbia, Canada. She discusses her professional and personal engagement in the intersection of religion and ecology, with particular attention to her newly released book, Mouth of the Donkey: Re-imagining Biblical Animals (Wipf & Stock, 2021). She provides a fresh, insightful, and accessible interpretation of humans, sheep, corvids, locusts, donkeys, and many more animals in the Hebrew Bible. More information on Judaism and ecology can be found on the Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology website.
This week's episode is a remix of previous interviews with guests who have written books that explore religious perspectives on climate change. First, we hear from Andreas Karelas, executive director of RE-volv — a nonprofit organization that empowers communities to invest in solar energy — and author of Climate Courage: How Tackling Climate Change Can Build Community, Transform the Economy, and Bridge the Political Divide in America (Beacon Press, 2020). The next guest is David Haberman, Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University Bloomington, and author of Understanding Climate Change Through Religious Lifeworlds (Indiana University Press, 2021). Third, we hear from Robin Globus Veldman, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Texas A&M University, and author of The Gospel of Climate Skepticism: Why Evangelical Christians Oppose Action on Climate Change (UC Press, 2019).Links to each guest's full episode:Andreas Karelas: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1269704/episodes/6367405David Haberman: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1269704/episodes/8573558Robin Veldman: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1269704/episodes/8487135More information on religion and climate change is available at the Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology website.
This week's episode of Spotlights features clips from three scholars of Hinduism and ecology, each of whom has a recently published book on that topic. First, we hear from Vijaya Nagarajan, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies and in the Program of Environmental Studies at the University of San Francisco. She talks about her book, Feeding a Thousand Souls: Women, Ritual and Ecology in India — An Exploration of the Kōlam (Oxford University Press, 2018). Second, we hear from David Haberman, PhD, Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University Bloomington. He discusses his latest book, Loving Stones: Making the Impossible Possible in the Worship of Mount Govardhan (Oxford University Press, 2020). Finally, we hear from Christopher Key Chapple, PhD, Doshi Professor of Indic and Comparative Theology and founding Director of the Master of Arts in Yoga Studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. He discusses his newest book, Living Landscapes: Meditations on the Elements in Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain Yogas (SUNY Press, 2020).Links to full episodes for each guest can be found below:Vijaya Nagarajan: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1269704/episodes/7118623 David Haberman: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1269704/episodes/8614509 Christopher Key Chapple: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1269704/episodes/7970014 More resources are available on the Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology website.
This week’s episode of Spotlights features clips from three of our previous episodes, with guests describing their work with environmental justice. First, we hear from Carl Anthony, co-founder and co-director (with Dr. Paloma Pavel) of Breakthrough Communities, an organization dedicated to building multiracial leadership for sustainable communities in California & the nation. He discusses his work with environmental justice, including some reflections on his book, The Earth, the City, and the Hidden Narrative of Race. Next, we hear from Paloma Pavel, PhD., President of Earth House Center and visiting faculty at the University of California, Davis. She discusses her path toward environmental justice. Finally, we hear from Rev. Dr. Christopher Carter, an assistant professor and the assistant chair of the Theology and Religious Studies department at the University of San Diego, in San Diego, California. He discusses his work with the field of religion and ecology, with particular attention to the ways in which ecological spaces impact black, Indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC).You can listen to the full interviews:Carl Anthony: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1269704/episodes/8175030Paloma Pavel: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1269704/episodes/8182744Christopher Carter: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1269704/episodes/5824717
Critical theory and critical race theory are in the news a lot lately. In this episode of Spotlights, we feature clips from two of our previous episodes that address what these theories are, why they are important, and what they have to do with ideas and practices in the environmental humanities. First, we hear from Celina Osuna, PhD, Assistant Director of the Desert Humanities Initiative at Arizona State University's Institute for Humanities Research. She talks about critical theory, the power of language, and the challenges of avoiding gatekeeping and inaccessible jargon. Then we hear from Tyler Tully, doctoral candidate in religious studies at the University of Oxford. Tyler talks specifically about the importance of critical race theory for studies of religion and ecology.For full episodes:Celina Osuna's episode is available here. Tyler Tully's episode is available here.You can watch this episode here: https://youtu.be/gjk018AQ9Ac
This week's episode of Spotlights is about the theory and practice of environmental learning, featuring clips from three of our previous interviewees, Mitchell Thomashow, Jason Brown, and Kimberly Carfore. They present several ideas and practices for environmental learning, including some tips for how to bring ecological awareness into online education.Details and links for each interviewee's episode:1. Mitchell Thomashow, PhD, renowned educator and author of several books, including his most recent, To Know the World: A New Vision for Environmental Learning.2. Jason Brown, PhD, lecturer in the Humanities and the School of Resource and Environmental Management at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada.3. Kimberly Carfore, PhD, Adjunct Professor in the Environmental Studies program and Theology & Religious Studies department at the University of San Francisco.
This is the second part of a two-part interview with writer, artist, and scholar Celina Osuna, PhD. We get into more details about deserts, discussing some ideas, events, films, and books that define desert humanities. Celina also reflects on the role deserts play in the border politics between Mexico and the southwestern United States, the unsustainable water use in Arizona, and the importance of understanding deserts not as a homogeneous void but as complex life-sustaining places. You can listen to the first part of this interview here.For more information:Desert Humanities Initiative https://ihr.asu.edu/desert-humanitiesCelina Osuna's contact info: Twitter: @celina_osuna_Email: Celina.Osuna [at] asu.edu
This week is the first part of a two-part interview with writer, artist, and scholar Celina Osuna, PhD. We talk about her perspective on desert humanities, including her writing and research as well as her work as Assistant Director of the Desert Humanities Initiative at Arizona State University's Institute for Humanities Research. We also discuss the meaning of critical theory and its role in the humanities. She brings in examples from philosophy, literature, art, and music to think with the human and more-than-human entanglements of desert places.Contact information:Twitter: @celina_osuna_Email: Celina.Osuna [at] asu.edu
This week’s episode of Spotlights is the second part of a two-part interview with Susannah Crockford, PhD, author of Ripples of the Universe: Spirituality in Sedona, Arizona (University of Chicago Press, 2021), which explores intersections of religion, politics, race, class, and nature in Sedona, Arizona. We talk more about her book and its direct relevance to current events in United States politics, including the intersection of new age spirituality and conspiracy theories, as seen in people like Jake Angeli (QAnon Shaman).You can watch this episode here.
This week’s episode of Spotlights features Susannah Crockford, PhD, author of the exciting new book, Ripples of the Universe: Spirituality in Sedona, Arizona (University of Chicago Press, 2021), which explores intersections of religion, politics, race, class, and nature in Sedona, Arizona. Discussing the book, we touch on a wide range of topics, including new age cosmology, millenarianism, food, vortexes, aliens, conspiracy theories, the landscape and culture of Sedona, and much more. This is the first part of a two-part interview.
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