CSoC International Conference Abstract – 9-11 January 2023:
CSoC at BGU has chosen "Religion and the Natural Environment" as its annual theme for the 2022-2023 academic year, and as the subject of an international conference, acknowledging its current global relevance for researchers in the humanities and social sciences, political activists, and the general public.
We wish to address this topic across boundaries between religious beliefs and spiritual traditions, from a variety of disciplines and perspectives, privileging comparative approaches. Over the course of the proposed conference, we hope to discuss in depth perceptions of the natural environment as reflected in scriptures, mythology, religious law, mysticism, theology and ethics, as well as attitudes towards the natural environment and natural elements such as water, as performed in religious rituals and magic practices. We will also address the impact of religion on the treatment of animals, plants and land, and non-anthropocentric themes in religious thought – monotheistic and other. Finally, we will devote our attention to environmentalism within contemporary religious traditions and communities. Here we expect the contribution of some members of the newly established interdisciplinary School of Sustainability and Climate Change at BGU, who will undoubtedly raise different perspectives and insights. We will address this theme, as well as inter-religious cooperation around environmental issues also during a fieldtrip we are planning, which will include either meetings with members of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies or site visits along the Jordan River with EcoPeace Middle East.
We envision the workshop as a highpoint in a year-long engagement with religion and the natural environment. It will be preceded and complemented by weekly seminars which convene either in-person at BGU, or via zoom to enable the participation of renown scholars from distant locations. It is our hope that this particular setting will enhance the effect of our research and facilitate the creation of an inter-generational and international community of interested scholars. To the best of our knowledge this will be the first conference to address such an assemblage of issues pertaining to religious perspectives of nature and ecology, and to engage scholars from the humanities and social sciences in discussion with environmental scientists.