[F&ES 779b] / 2015-2016

Religion, Ecology and Cosmology

Credits: 3

Spring 2016: Time and location TBA


For many years science, engineering, policy, law, and economics alone were considered indispensable for understanding and resolving environmental problems. We now have abundant knowledge from these disciplines about environmental issues, but still not sufficient will to engage in long-term change for the flourishing of the Earth community. Thus, there is a growing realization that religion, spirituality, ethics, and values can make important contributions, in collaboration with science, to address complex ecological issues. We will examine those contributions, acknowledging both the problems and promise of religions.This course in religion, ecology, and cosmology involves an exploration of the world's religions within the horizon of interdependent life and the cosmos.  In particular, it investigates the symbolic and lived expressions of this interconnection in diverse religious texts, ethics, and practices arising from relations of humans with the universe and the Earth community. The course also draws on the narratives of science for an understanding of the dynamic processes of the universe, Earth, life, and ecosystems.In the first part of the course, we will explore ecological perspectives from Indigenous traditions, Christianity, and Confucianism. In the second part of the course we will survey environmental ethics leading to an emerging global ethics. In the final section, we turn to the interdisciplinary scientific story of the unfolding universe as a cosmological narrative orienting new human-Earth relations.  This scientific narrative has continuity and discontinuity with earlier religious cosmologies and their views of nature.