Show cover of Forum on Religion and Ecology: Spotlights

Forum on Religion and Ecology: Spotlights

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:


4.21 Bruno Latour, If We Lose The Earth, We Lose Our Souls
This episode features our host, Sam Mickey, discussing the new posthumous publication from the French philosopher Bruno Latour, If We Lose The Earth, We Lose Our Souls, in which Latour calls upon Christians to join the struggle to avert a climate catastrophe. It's a short text that examines connections between cosmology, ecology, and Catholicism, including discussion of Pope Francis, incarnation, redemption, apocalypse, preaching, the problem of anthropocentrism, and more.
30:57 6/10/24
4.20 Timothy Morton, Hell: In Search of a Christian Ecology
This episode features Timothy Morton, PhD, Rita Shea Guffey Chair in English at Rice University and author of several books on ecological thought. We discuss their new book, Hell: In Search of a Christian Ecology (Columbia University Press, 2024). Escaping global warming hell, this revelatory book shows, requires a radical, mystical marriage of Christianity and biology — the biosphere and the body of Christ — that awakens a future beyond the master-slave binary underlying racism, sexism, classism, and speciesism. We discuss the personal, poetic, political, and spiritual dimensions of this passionate, erudite, and playful book.
70:33 5/27/24
4.19 Saving the Elwha River's Legacy Forests with Missy Lahren
This episode features Missy Lahren, PhD, Chair of Board of Directors at Earth Law Center. Along with her work as a public interest lawyer, she is also a producer and writer. We discuss the many facets of her work, focusing in particular on her recent film, Last Stand: Saving the Elwha River's Legacy Forests. It premiered publicly at EarthX in Dallas on April 24, 2024. We had a chance to talk on the day of the premiere. Here is a short summary of the film from the Earth Law Center. "When a large, ecologically sensitive legacy forest in the heart of the Elwha River Watershed in Washington state was identified for harvest, the Earth Law Center, Keystone Species Alliance, and Center for Whale Research began using all legal means possible against the Washington State Department of Natural Resources in an attempt to halt the impending clear-cut. Through breathtaking cinematography and intimate interviews, witness the profound beauty and ecological significance of the watershed, as well as the dire consequences of unchecked deforestation."You can watch the film on Earth Law Center's YouTube channel Visit their Elwha Legacy Forests page to read more about the critical ongoing campaign to save these irreplaceable forests. 
48:24 5/6/24
4.18 Sara Jolena Wolcott of Sequoia Samanvaya
This episode features Sara Jolena Wolcott, an ecotheologian, minister, healer, ceremonialist, consultant, singer, and founder of Sequoia Samanvaya—an organization dedicated to harmonizing with ancient wisdom. She is also the host of The ReMembering And ReEnchanting Podcast. We discuss some of the many facets of her interdisciplinary but also cross-sector work. She addresses the crucial role that origin stories play in cosmovisions, and why it is so important for the climate leadership and religious leadership to take them seriously. She also focuses on decolonization as a critical and often-missing piece from ecospiritual discussions. She discusses her time at Union Theological Seminary, including her experience volunteering for a climate Justice conference hosted by the Center for Earth Ethics, led by Karenna Gore.She has ongoing courses and boutique offerings for academics, spiritual/religious leaders, environmentalists, investors, and others who are being called forth to live courageously in these times of interconnectivity. These include a ReMembering Course, an Origin Stories course, and Circular Calendar courses. Listeners might also enjoy reading Sara Jolena's published work, including articles about circular time - The Deer at the End of the World and the Goddess of the Dawn and Reckonings with Time(s); her M.Div. thesis ReMembering the Story of the Anthropocene Age; and the From the Darkness. 
55:47 4/22/24
4.17 Bioneers 2024 in Review, with Kimberly Carfore
In this episode, Kimberly Carfore returns to the podcast to talk about this year's Bioneers conference, which was held in Berkeley, California on March 28-30. Bioneers is a nonprofit environmental advocacy organization based in New Mexico and California. Founded in 1990 by Kenny Ausubel and Nina Simons, Bioneers (a neologism for "biological pioneers") focuses on the value and wisdom of the natural world, emphasizing that responses to problems must be in harmony with the design of natural systems. The conference is broadly interdisciplinary and cross-sector, with academics, artists, activists, entrepreneurs, and social innovators meeting to address the pressing challenges facing life on Earth. Kim discusses her experience at the conference, focusing especially on some of the speakers who presented at the Indigenous Forum.
64:53 4/8/24
4.16 Energy and Change, with Clayton Crockett
This episode features Clayton Crockett, PhD, Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion and the Director of the interdisciplinary Religious Studies program at the University of Central Arkansas. He has authored or edited a number of books at the intersection of theology, philosophy, science, and politics, including Religion, Politics and the Earth (with Jeffrey Robbins); The Future of Continental Philosophy of Religion; Derrida After the End of Writing; and Radical Political Theology. We discuss his most recent book, Energy and Change: A New Materialist Cosmotheology (Columbia University Press, 2022), which develops a concept of energy as both physical and spiritual, integrating understandings of energy from a wide range of sources, such as thermodynamics, ecology, new materialist philosophy, political economy, Chinese traditions, Amerindian traditions, Vodou, process theology, and more.
67:08 3/25/24
4.15 Climate Chaplaincy with Rabbi Ora Nitkin-Kaner
This episode features Rabbi Ora Nitkin-Kaner, Reconstructionist rabbi and interdenominational climate change chaplain based in New Haven, Connecticut. As a rabbi, meditation teacher, climate change chaplain, and educator, she founded Exploring Apocalypse to extend her pastoral care work to help individuals and groups navigate the complexities of living in a time of climate emergency. We talk about her work, the emotional and spiritual impacts of climate change, intergenerational trauma, the intertwinement of climate change with social, cultural, and political issues, and paths toward hope.
58:24 3/11/24
4.14 Integration and Synthesis with Craig Patterson
This episodes features Craig Patterson, a long-time activist and advocate weaving together multiple perspectives to address contemporary environmental issues. We talk about his commitment to integration and synthesis, seeking alliances and unity amidst difference. Some points of integration we discuss include science and spirituality, East and West, and theory and practice. He shares his formative experience in Auroville, the experimental city grounded in the integral thinking of the Indian philosopher and yogi Sri Aurobindo. He also talks about his dedication to issues of forestry in Oregon, where environmental science, policy, and management converge.
55:33 2/26/24
4.13 Chantal Forbes & Charlie Forbes on the Field & Force of Religion & Ecology
This episode of the FORE podcast features Chantal Forbes, PhD, and her partner Charlie Forbes. Chantal is a transdisciplinary scholar, storyteller, and educator at the intersection of ecology, spirituality, and culture. She is a visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Randolph-Macon College and Adjunct Faculty at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Charlie is a cultural ecologist who employs a mixed-media approach to the study of ecology, spirituality, and religion. He currently serves as the program coordinator for the Ecology, Spirituality, and Religion program at the California Institute of Integral Studies. We had a wonderful and wide-ranging conversation about the field and force of religion and ecology, touching on topics like interfaith/interreligious perspectives, Indigenous lifeways, decolonization, ethnographic and community-based methods, nonprofit management, and more.
63:07 2/12/24
4.12 Degrowth, Faith, and the Future, with Chad Baron
This episode features Chad Baron, co-founder of a new organization, Degrowth California. Degrowth is a hotly contested and frequently misunderstood movement among advocates of environmental sustainability and social justice. We discuss degrowth and its relationship to faith, particularly in light of Chad’s graduate work at the intersection of degrowth and Catholic Social Teaching. Some of the topics we touch on include the ways that degrowth differs from green growth and from austerity, differences between degrowth in different countries in the Global North and Global South, and connections between degrowth and Catholicism, from early Christianity to Catholic Social Teaching and Pope Francis. You can learn more about Degrowth California here: 
56:02 1/29/24
4.11 Music, Faith, and Ecological Crisis, with Mark Porter
This episode features Mark Porter, PhD, research associate at the University of Erfurt, in Germany. With a background in ethnomusicology, his current work focuses on Christian musical innovation and changing ecological relationships, based at his university’s department for theology and religious studies. We discuss his work at the intersection of music, religion and ecology, particularly in light of his forthcoming book, For the Warming of the Earth: Music, Faith, and Ecological Crisis (due out in June 2024 with SCM Press). Some of the topics covered include climate albums, music and acts of protest, song festivals, ecological Requiems, and the future of ecomusicology. You can learn more about his work on his website:
57:31 1/15/24
4.10 Year in Review and Preview, with Kimberly Carfore
Tis the season for reflecting on the past year and the year to come. Kimberly Carfore, PhD, came on the podcast to do just that, particularly in light of her role as the co-chair of the Religion and Ecology unit for the American Academy of Religion (AAR). We talk about some of the main topics and trends covered by the unit in this past year's AAR, and we discuss what's coming for this year's AAR, including more focus on decolonization and environmental justice, more consideration of questions about violence and nonviolence, more attention to activism and advocacy, and more research into the varieties of sentience in animals, plants, fungi, and more. Drawing on the field and force of religion and ecology, the Religion and Ecology unit is helping connect all areas of religious studies to the urgent and inspiring work of engaging with ecological issues.
52:19 1/1/24
4.9 Ecology, Spirituality, and Religion at 10 Years, with Elizabeth Allison, PhD
This episode features Elizabeth Allison, PhD, Professor of Ecology and Religion at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in San Francisco, where she founded and chairs the graduate program in Ecology, Spirituality, and Religion (ESR).  This year is the 10th anniversary of the program, so it was the perfect opportunity to reflect on ESR's past, present, and future. We discuss a wide variety of topics, including the relationship between religion and spirituality, environmental humanities, online and in-person teaching, transdisciplinary education, contemplative practice, and more. We also discuss the Religion & Ecology Summit series of annual conferences that ESR hosts. The 6th annual Summit will take place April 8-11 in 2024, with the theme of Queer Ecologies and Religions. 
44:48 12/11/23
4.8 Meditations on Creation with Kate Rigby
This episode features Kate Rigby, PhD, Alexander von Humboldt Professor of Environmental Humanities at the University of Cologne. We talk about her many contributions to environmental humanities and ecocriticism. Some of the topics we cover include her work with European Romanticism, decolonization, and the enduring legacy of the ecofeminist philosophy of Val Plumwood. We also discuss her most recent book, Meditations on Creation in an Era of Extinction (Orbis Books, 2023), where she reflects on the challenges of extinction through theological interpretations of the Biblical account of creation. She draws on an ancient genre of theological writing about the days of creation, the hexameron.
64:59 11/27/23
4.7 Theopoetics and Planetary Politics with O'Neil Van Horn
Welcome O'neil Van Horn, PhD to Spotlights. He's an Assistant Professor of Theology at Xavier University. We discuss the difference between theology and theopoetics, the ethical and political challenges of our current planetary situation, grounds for hope in these trying times, and the legacy of postmodern philosophers like Gilles Deleuze and Jacques Derrida. Along the way, we talk about his book, On the Ground: Terrestrial Theopoetics and Planetary Politics (Fordham University Press, 2023).
57:16 11/7/23
4.6 Laudate Deum review, with Christiana Zenner
Christiana Zenner, PhD, returns to the podcast (see episode 4.3) for a discussion about Laudate Deum, the Apostolic Exhortation that Pope Francis recently issued as an update to his 2015 encyclical, Laudato Si': On Care for Our Common Home. We talk about some of the similarities and differences between the encyclical and the new exhortation. Some of the main themes include Pope Francis' use of scientific argumentation to refute climate denial, his critique of the United States as the world's leading carbon emitter per capita, his critique of what he calls the "technocratic paradigm" currently dominant around the globe (especially in the Global North), and his call for a global politics of multilateralism to address the climate crisis. We also discuss the usual absence of women from citations in these sorts of documents, which is remedied in Laudate Deum with a very strange reference to a well-known feminist scholar of science studies, Donna Haraway, who grew up Catholic but has taken highly critical stances toward Catholicism throughout her career. National Catholic Reporter featured an interview profile of Haraway in response to the citation, which you can find here.
49:34 10/23/23
4.5 Will W. Adams & Nature-Psyche-Spirit
This episode features Will W. Adams, PhD, an ecopsychologist, psychotherapist, and meditation teacher who serves as a psychology professor at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We talk about many perspectives that he integrates into his ecopsychological work, including transpersonal psychology, phenomenology, Christian mysticism, and Buddhism. We touch on many themes, from hope to heartbreak, including the heartbreaking realities of mountaintop removal. All of these compelling ideas and topics are part of his book, A Wild and Sacred Call: Nature–Psyche–Spirit (SUNY Press, 2023).
59:03 10/16/23
4.4 Blair Nelsen and Waterspirit
This episode features Blair Nelsen, Executive Director of Waterspirit, a spiritual ecology nonprofit that informs, inspires, and empowers people of all beliefs to deepen their consciousness of the sacredness of water and the interdependence of all Earth’s systems. We discuss her journey in the world of spiritual ecology and nonprofit management, with particular attention to water issues. Reenchanting our relationship with water opens up possibilities for responding to environmental crises with gratitude, hope, and regenerative activism. Go to to learn more.
56:01 10/2/23
4.3 Christiana Zenner on Theology, Ethics, and Freshwater Crises
Welcome Christiana Zenner, PhD  onto the podcast, Associate Professor of Theology, Science and Ethics in the Department of Theology at Fordham University. She is a deeply interdisciplinary scholar and teacher, so we cover a lot of exciting topics, including her research into emerging and established fresh water ethics, religious ecologies, the Anthropocene, the ecological turn in Catholic social teaching (including Laudato Si', the ecological encyclical from Pope Francis), the tensions between the degrowth movement and ecomodernist advocates of green growth, our shared hope in the youth and their energy for communication and community organizing, citational politics, bingo games, and a whole lot more. Her book Just Water: Theology, Ethics, and Global Fresh Water Crises is on its second edition with Orbis Books (2018).
58:02 9/18/23
4.2 Wilderness, Morality, and Value, with Joshua Duclos
This episode of Spotlights features Joshua Duclos, PhD, Instructor of Humanities and Philosophy at St. Paul's School in New Hampshire. We talk about his book, Wilderness, Morality, and Value (Lexington Books, 2022), where he rethinks the ethical implications of wilderness in light of the complex conditions of life in the Anthropocene. We discuss issues around anthropocentrism, intrinsic value in nature, the religious significance of wilderness, and some of the moral conflicts that arise when the value of wilderness is juxtaposed with concerns for animal suffering. There are no easy answers when it comes to understanding wilderness, conservation, and animal welfare, but there are many ways to deepen our understanding of the questions involved in those issues. 
60:30 9/4/23
4.1 Heather Eaton on Religion, Ecology, Gender, and Nonviolence
This is the inaugural episode of the fourth year of the Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology podcast. This episode features a prominent contributor to the field, Heather Eaton, PhD, professor of conflict studies in the faculty of human sciences at Saint Paul University, Ottawa, Canada. We talk about her numerous interdisciplinary contributions to the field of religion and ecology, including her engagement with the intellectual legacy of Thomas Berry (a teacher of hers), the enduring relevance of ecofeminism, the philosophy of new materialism, the role of nonviolence in facilitating social change, and the political problem posed by religious nationalism, and more.
56:00 8/21/23
3.25 Reviewing Karen Armstrong's Sacred Nature
In this episode of Spotlights, Sam Mickey reviews the newest book by the renowned scholar of comparative religion, Karen Armstrong, Sacred Nature: Restoring Our Ancient Bond with the Natural World (2022). It's an accessible and inspiring exploration of some of the ways that religious myths, practices, and disciplines can facilitate aesthetic and ethical appreciation of the natural world. The book also has some limitations, which compel further reflection on some of the main issues addressed by the field and force of religion and ecology. This is the final episode of the third season of the podcast. We'll be back with more episodes in a few weeks. 
25:37 7/31/23
3.24 Freya Mathews and the Dao of Civilization
This episode of Spotlights features Freya Mathews, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Environmental Philosophy at Latrobe University, and author of several books, including The Ecological Self (1991, reissued with new intro in 2021), For Love of Matter: A Contemporary Panpsychism (2003), Reinhabiting Reality: Towards a Recovery of Culture (2005),  and her new book, The Dao of Civilization: a Letter to China (2023). We discuss her personal and professional path toward metaphysics, conservation ethics, and ecological civilization, with special attention to the unique role that Indigenous and Daoist principles can play in contemporary global society. This episode begins with a few verses from a poem, “Let the Mountain be your Temple,” by Freya Matthews.
56:36 7/17/23
3.23 Sigurd Bergmann and Transdisciplinary Eco-Theology
This episode of Spotlights features Sigurd Bergmann, PhD, professor emeritus in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and founding contributor to the European Forum for the Study of Religion and the Environment. He discusses his transdisciplinary approach to eco-theology and the study of religion and ecology, taking a global perspective and crossing disciplinary fields of art, architecture, ethics, religion, and the environment. He also discusses some of his many books, including Weather, Religion and Climate Change (2021), Religion, Materialism and Ecology (2023, edited with Kate Rigby and Peter Manley Scott), and Sweden’s Pandemic Experiment (2023, edited with Martin Lindström), which is available to download free (open access) from the publisher's website here.
57:13 7/3/23
3.22 Extractivism and Petro-theology, with Terra Schwerin Rowe
This episode of Spotlights features Terra Schwerin Rowe, PhD, Associate Professor in the Philosophy and Religion Department at the University of North Texas. We discuss her most recent book, Of Modern Extraction: Experiments in Critical Petro-theology (Bloomsbury, 2022), where she draws on energy humanities in an intersectional-feminist analysis of extractivism, exploring material and discursive intersections of oil, religion, white supremacy, colonialism, and capitalism. A key take-away is that US citizens have not only made economic, technological, and infrastructural investments in oil, they've also made theological investments in oil that still inform 21st-century high energy culture. Consequently, in the pursuit of alternative energy imaginaries and more just energy cultures, these spiritual-theological investments will also need critical analysis and creative re-interpretation.
53:30 6/19/23
3.21 Ecological Existentialism with Sam Mickey
This episode of Spotlights features our host, Sam Mickey, discussing ecological existentialism, particularly in light of his book on the topic, Coexistentialism and the Unbearable Intimacy of Ecological Emergency (Lexington Books, 2016). Ecological existentialism (also called coexistentialism) extends insights from existential philosophy about meaning-making amid the paradoxes, absurdities, and uncertainties of mortal existence, applying those insights to living and dying in a time of mass extinction.  Coexistentialism finds productive alliances and tensions amidst many areas of inquiry, including ecocriticism, ecological humanities, object-oriented ontology, feminism, phenomenology, deconstruction, new materialism, and more.
28:31 6/5/23
3.20 Beatrice Marovich and Sister Death
This episode of Spotlights features writer and scholar Beatrice Marovich, PhD, associate professor of theological studies at Hanover college. We talk a little about her path into theology through engagements with literature and journalism. Then we discuss her new book, Sister Death: Political Theologies for Living and Dying (Columbia University Press, 2023), diving into theological, philosophical, political, cultural, and ecological implications of the way we think, feel, and act about death and its relationship to life. The figure of Sister Death comes from St. Francis of Assisi, and the book engages with and beyond that image of death as a relative, challenging assumptions about death as the enemy of life and opening up new ways of cultivating accepting and meaningful relations with death.  
54:41 5/22/23
3.19 Reflections on Metamodernism
This week’s episode of Spotlights focuses on metamodernism—an emerging cultural movement that recovers sincerity and big picture thinking following the postmodern focus on irony and skepticism. Our host Sam Mickey provides some context for thinking about metamodernism, especially as it relates to postmodernism. He notes how postmodern theory already includes metamodern ideas in several ways, both in constructive postmodernism (e.g., Alfred North Whitehead) and deconstructive postmodernism (e.g., Jacques Derrida). While there is much to praise about metamodernism, it is important not to perpetuate confused misreadings of postmodernism. Furthermore, it is important to continue attending to the postcolonial and postindustrial conditions that postmodern theory addresses. 
26:28 5/8/23
3.18 Joerg Rieger, Theology in the Capitalocene
This episode of Spotlights features Joerg Rieger, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Theology and the Cal Turner Chancellor’s Chair of Wesleyan Studies at Vanderbilt University. He is also the founding director of the Wendland-Cook Program in Religion and Justice. We discuss his latest book, Theology in the Capitalocene: Ecology, Identity, Class, and Solidarity (Fortress Press, 2022), which explores the implications of the Anthropocene through theological inquiries into ecology, labor, capitalism, and intersectionality. We touch on topics of personal and planetary agency, new materialism, deep solidarity, the tension between transcendence and immanence, reparations, and the power of worker co-ops.
56:01 4/24/23
3.17 Interfaith Environmentalism with Gopal Patel
This episode of Spotlights features Gopal D. Patel, a faith-based environmental activist, campaigner, and consultant. He is co-Founder and Director of Bhumi Global, an international Hindu faith-inspired NGO that works to promote environmental care. He is also a senior advisor for the Center for Earth Ethics, co-chair of the United Nations Multi-faith Advisory Council, and an advisor to the World Wildlife Fund Beliefs and Values Programme. We discuss his personal experience of Hinduism, his background with multi-faith dialogue, and the challenges and opportunities facing religious environmentalism around the world, including some ways that religious environmentalism can facilitate constructive responses to climate grief and eco-anxiety.
50:16 4/10/23

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