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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Divinity : Divinity

Postgraduate Course: Theology, Ecology, and Climate Change: Christian thought in a changing world (online) (DIVI11051)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Divinity CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course will interrogate current scientific data and political rhetoric around climate change through a multi-disciplinary lens. These perspectives will then
be set in conversation with current Christian ecotheology around questions of human responsibility, action potentials, and future hope.
Course description Academic Description:
One of the challenges of the climate change crisis is that it is a 'wicked problem' - every solution is defined by the perspective you take in looking at the problem, and every solution poses as many new problems as it solves. Proposed responses to climate change are often siloed into monodisciplinary approaches which fail to see obstacles that could be anticipated through another disciplinary lens. This course aims to analyse the multi-faceted problems climate change creates - scientific, social, and political - through a multi-disciplinary science and religion approach. The main interlocuter between the various human and natural sciences will be Christian ecotheology.

Outline Content:
The first part of the course will assess our current situation. This part of the course will engage with geology, climate data, and history to get perspective on our current climate moment within Earth's longer history of life. It will address questions like 'What are we trying to sustain?' 'What does it mean to 'save' the planet?' The second part of the course will investigate theology and the non-biological sciences of climate change. We will look at several non-biological sciences that are shaping the human response to climate change: psychology, economics, politics, and engineering. Students will explore what solutions have been proposed in each area, and then will theologically evaluate the proposed goals in light of the first part of the course. The third and final part of the course will look at possible theological responses to the possibility of unstoppable climate change. This part of the course will look at possible responses shaped by theology to the prospect of inevitable climate change. Themes include facing death and loss, creating radical hope and hospitality, and the possibilities of action.

Student Learning Experience:
The course will be taught through a weekly recorded lecture, for which essential reading will need to be completed. Students will be evaluated through a summative essay and an oral presentation to the online seminar, usually on a required reading. Online seminars will involve student presentations and class discussion of required reading and the lecture topic.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Course Start Date 15/01/2024
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 12, Online Activities 5, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 179 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 85 %, Practical Exam 15 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Essay: 85% 3000 words; Oral Presentation 15%
Feedback Students will have the chance to receive feedback on an essay plan and to submit a formative essay.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand the complexities involved in the cultural framing of climate change as a 'crisis'.
  2. Situate climate change responses within relevant natural and human sciences: geology, ecology, economics, politics, and geography.
  3. Interrogate the theological implications embedded in works on environment and climate change.
  4. Have working knowledge of contemporary Christian ecotheological approaches and be able to provide a critique of them in an oral presentation.
Reading List
Christopher Scotese, et. al., 'Phanerozoic paleotemperatures: The earth's changing climate during the last 540 million years', Earth-Science Reviews 215 (2021): 103503.
Lisa Sideris, Consecrating Science: Wonder, Knowledge and the Natural World. Oakland: University of California Press, 2017.
Paul Tyson, Theology and Climate Change. London: Routledge, 2021.
Bruno Latour, Facing Gaia: Eight Lectures on the New Climatic Regime. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2017.
Kate Raworth, Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist. Random House, 2017.
Pope Francis, Laudato Si': On care for our common home. Vatican, 2015.
Sally Weintrobe, Psychological Roots of the Climate Crisis. New York: Bloomsbury, 2021.
Richard Hobbs, Eric Higgs, & Carol Hall, eds., Novel Ecosystems: Intervening in the New Ecological World Order. Wiley-Blackwell, 2013.
Norman Wirzba, This Sacred Life: Humanity's Place in a Wounded World. Cambridge University Press, 2021.
Willis Jenkins, Ecologies of Grace: Environmental Ethics and Christian Theology. OUP, 2008.
Leonardo Boff, Cry Of The Earth, Cry Of The Poor. Maryknoll, Orbis 1997.
John Behr & Conor Cunninghman, eds. The Role of Death in Life. Cascade Books, 2015. Jonathan Lear, Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation. Harvard University, 2008.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills This course will contribute to the development of graduate attributes including, but not limited to:
- Thinking critically about complex and interrelated global issues
- Reflecting on where contributions to climate change and its solutions are most influential
- Courage to scrutinize popular claims and evaluate them against multidisciplinary approaches
KeywordsTheology,Climate Change,Eco-theology,ethics,science & religion
Course organiserDr Bethany Sollereder
Course secretaryMrs Suzanne Strath
Tel: (0131 6)517000
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