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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Divinity : Divinity

Postgraduate Course: Religion, the Environment and the Climate Crisis (DIVI11026)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Divinity CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course focuses on religious responses to the environment and the climate change crisis. Utilising sociological and historical analysis of a number of case studies, we explore how religions respond to environmental crisis at institutional and grassroots levels and the ongoing dynamic interplay between religion and society.
Course description Academic Description
This course focuses on religious responses to the environment and the climate change crisis. Utilising sociological and historical analysis of a number of case studies, we explore in depth how religions respond to environmental crisis at institutional and grassroots levels. In doing so we explore shifting relationships of power between individuals, communities and institutions, and the ongoing dynamic interplay between religion and society.

Syllabus/Outline Content:
The first half of the course considers the ways in which religious traditions conceptualise, frame and engage with environmental issues and the climate crisis. We focus on illustrative case studies from various traditions, to exemplify and critically examine how religions make sense of these issues.

The second half of the course focuses on practical responses to the climate crisis, using a series of case studies to explore the ways in which religious groups and individuals have sought to mobilise in response to environmental challenge. Through these, we will encounter a range of sociological and anthropological debates, issues and methodologies, including issues of power, gender, and the interplay between individuals, religious communities and religious institutions.

Student Learning Experience Information:
The course will be delivered through a weekly two-hour class. The first hour will be a student-led seminar that will engage with the readings assigned in and the case studies pertinent to the theme of that week. The second hour will be a lecture that focuses on the key theme of the upcoming week.

The final essay provides an opportunity for a more expansive engagement with primary and secondary sources.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students will be welcome to study the course.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Explore complex concepts and wide-ranging case studies related to religious approaches to the environment and the climate crisis, and link these to broader sociological theories and debates.
  2. Identify and articulate the significant course themes through engagement with secondary sources and scholarly debates, and relate these to global and local events.
  3. Engage critically with a range of media (including written literature, art, music, oral testimonies, videos, online and offline news sources, social media and livestreams, and accounts of protests and public debate), taking into account and evaluating alternative and conflicting points of view, and relating these to academic debates where appropriate.
  4. Work independently for the essays, engaging with primary and secondary sources, and showing high-level understanding of theoretical debates and a sophisticated ability to integrate complex nuances into the context of study.
  5. Construct lucid and critical arguments in their written and oral work, relating these to real world examples and issues.
Reading List
Indicative Bibliography:

Ahmad, A.N., 2019. 'Disaster cosmologies in comparative perspective: Islam, climate change and the 2010 floods in Pakistan's Southern Punjab', in Journal of Historical Sociology, Vol. 32, No. 3, pp.311-330.

Bauman, W.A., 2014. Religion and ecology, New York: Columbia University Press.

Beyer, P. 1992. 'The global environment as a religious issue: a sociological analysis', in Religion, vol. 22, pp. 1-19.

Beyer, P. 1994. 'Religious Environmentalism', in Religion and Globalization, London: Sage.

Bomberg, E. and Hague, A., 2018. 'Faith-based climate action in Christian congregations: mobilisation and spiritual resources', in Local Environment, Vol. 23 No. 5, pp. 582-596.

Castells, M., 'Occupy Wall Street: Harvesting the salt of the Earth', in Networks of Outrage and Hope: Social Movements in the Internet Age, Cambridge, Polity, pp. 156-217.

Deane-Drummond, C., 2017. A Primer in Ecotheology. Eugene OR: Cascade.

Thich Nhat Hanh, 2013. A Love Letter to the Earth. Berkeley CA: Parallax.

Gwyn, D., 2014. A Sustainable Life: Quaker Faith and Practice in the Renewal of Creation. Philadelphia, PA: QuakerPress.

Harris, I., 2000. 'Buddhism and ecology', in Contemporary Buddhist Ethics, ed. D. Keown, Richmond: Curzon.

Harvey, G., 2005. 'Eco-pagan Activism', in Animism: Respecting the Living World, London: Hurst, pp. 82-97.

Kidwell, J. et al., 2018. 'Christian climate care: slow change, modesty and eco-citizenship', in Geo: Geography and Environment, Vol. 5, No. 2, e00059.

Latour, B. 2017, Facing Gaia: Eight Lectures on the New Climatic Regime, Cambridge, Polity Press.

Morrison, M., Duncan, R. and Parton, K., 2015. 'Religion does matter for climate change attitudes and behaviour', in PLoSOne, Vol. 10, No. 8.

Murray, K., 2018. 'Social Justice and sustainability', in The Cambridge Companion to Quakerism, eds. Angell, S. and Dandelion, P., Cambridge, CUP.

Nita, M., 2016. Praying and Campaigning with Environmental Christians: Green Religion and the Climate Movement. New York, Palgrave Macmillan.

Ortner, S., 1974. 'Is female to male as nature is to culture?' In M. Z. Rosaldo and L. Lamphere (eds), Woman, culture, and society. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, pp. 68-87.

Rieger, J and Kwok, P-L. (2012) Occupy Religion: Theology of the Multitude, London: Rowman and Littlefield.

Sarao, K.T.S., 2019. 'The Buddhist Perspective on Sustainable Development', in Transition Strategies for Sustainable Community Systems. The Anthropocene: Politik-Economics-Society-Science, vol 26, ed. Springer, Cham.

Skrimshire, S (2014) Climate change and apocalyptic faith. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, Vol. 5 No. 2, pp. 233-246.

Smyth, I. and Walters, L., 2020. 'The Seas Are Rising and So Are We!' - A Conversation Between Two Women in Extinction Rebellion, in Gender & Development, Vol. 28 No. 3, pp. 617-635.

Taylor, B., 2009. Dark Green Religion: Nature Spirituality and the Planetary Future. Berkeley CA: University of California Press.

Van wieren, G., 2013. Restored to Earth: Christianity, Environmental Ethics, and Ecological Restoration, Washington DC: Georgetown University Press.

Welch, C., 2010. 'The Spirituality of, and at, Greenham Common Peace Camp'. Feminist Theology 18 (2): 230-248.

West, A., 1986. 'The Greenham Vigil: A women's theological initiative for peace', in New Blackfriars, Vol. 67, No. 789, pp. 125-137.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills - Curiosity for learning that makes a positive difference
- Passion to engage locally and globally
- Ability to think critically and reflectively, with a strong theoretical understanding of relevant issues
- Ability to independently construct rigorous and persuasive arguments
- Ability to communicate effectively, verbally and in writing
Keywordsreligion,spirituality,environmentalism,ecology,climate crisis,climate justice,sociology
Course organiserDr Claire Wanless
Course secretaryMs Amy MacKinnon
Tel: (0131 6)50 7227
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