Religion and the Environment

Moving from Values to Impact

June 3, 2024
2:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. EDT
Location: Healy Hall Riggs Library Map

As the global climate crisis intensifies, the mobilization of faith communities around environmental issues is growing in importance. The religious and spiritual traditions that encompass more than 80% of humanity are a critical but underdeveloped resource in global efforts to combat climate change and promote environmental sustainability. To realize their full potential as drivers of positive change, religious communities will have to close the gap between values and impact in practice. What are positive examples of positive religious impact on environmental outcomes? What characteristics do they have in common? How might lessons drawn from local success stories be applied in national, regional, and transnational settings—and vice versa?

Georgetown University and the Qatar Foundation organized a conference to explore these questions, with a focus on Islamic, Christian, and interfaith initiatives. The gathering brought together scholars, activists, and religious leaders to explore positive examples of religious impact, their lessons, and how to build on them in practice.

This conference was part of a Georgetown University-Qatar Foundation project on the Global Environmental Challenge: Islamic and Christian Perspectives and builds on a series of workshops held in Doha in November 2023. The conference was co-sponsored by Georgetown University in Qatar; the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs; and The Earth Commons — Georgetown University's Institute for Environment & Sustainability.


2:00 - 2:10 p.m. EDT | Introduction and Welcome
Safwan Masri, Dean, Georgetown University in Qatar

2:10 - 3:30 p.m. EDT | Religious Impact on Environmental Outcomes: Ways Forward
Why have religious communities so far had limited impact on environmental outcomes as the national and international level? How can we build bridges between spiritual values, lived religion, and political mobilization around environmental agendas? What has religious engagement around the COP process taught us about obstacles to and opportunities for interfaith impact?
Willis Jenkins, University of Virginia
Fachruddin Mangunjaya, National University Jakarta
Laura Vargas, Interfaith Rainforest Initiative
David Saperstein, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Katherine Marshall, Georgetown University (moderator)

3:30 - 4:00 p.m. EDT | Coffee Break

4:00 - 5:30 p.m. EDT | Al Mizan: Historical Significance and Future Impact
What is the content and message of Al Mizan: A Covenant for the Earth, a milestone Islamic statement on the environment, and to what extent does it mark a new departure? How does its approach to ecological values compare with that of the papal encyclical Laudato Si? How might Al-Mizan contribute to greater interfaith impact on environmental issues into the future?
Odeh Al-Jayoussi, Arabian Gulf University, Bahrain
Sevim Kalyoncu, Green Muslims
Laurel Kearns, Drew University
Munjed Murad, United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities
Thomas Banchoff, Georgetown University (moderator)

5:30 - 6:30 p.m. EDT | Reception

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