Section VI: Re-imagining and Re-inventing the Wisdom Traditions (A)

Track 1:   Reimagining and Mobilizing Religious Traditions 
in Response to the Eco-crisis

Chris Ives, Bill Lesher, and Joseph Prabhu, chairs

This track will explore how religious traditions and the inter-religious movement (IRM) have responded, and can more effectively respond, to the eco-crisis confronting all of humanity.  

Following a lecture by Mary Elizabeth Moore in a joint session of Section VI, we will devote the first session of our track to a presentation by Joseph Prabhu, who will outline and critique the axial shift laid out by Karl Jaspers and then provide an overview of a second axial shift: the shifts in consciousness that have been shaping our contemporary world.   These shifts include the emergence of post-colonial, global consciousness; greater appreciation of religious pluralism and commitment to interreligious dialogue; new views of women and LGBTQIA people; and keener recognition of the depth of the ecological crisis. In key respects these shifts in consciousness have been occurring in the context of several mega shifts over the past few centuries: the Enlightenment as a turning point between ancient and modern worlds; increased domination by capitalism and transnational corporations in the reigning form of economic globalization; the rising power of Asia; and the growing severity of environmental problems.

 In our second and third sessions we will explore how individuals and institutions in specific religious traditions have been responding to the eco-crisis, the degree to which their responses have included interreligious collaboration, and the distinctive contributions each tradition can make to an interreligious response to the eco-crisis. The second session will focus on Hinduism and Buddhism, with presentations by Rita Sherma (Hinduism) and Chris Ives (Buddhism). The third session will focus on Judaism and Islam, with presentations by Mel Gottlieb (Judaism) and Ruqayya Khan (Islam).

 The fourth session will conclude our consideration of Abrahamic religious traditions with a presentation by Phil Clayton (Christianity). This will be followed by a presentation by Bill Lesher on the development of the IRM.

The fifth session will begin with a presentation by Rick Clugston on the Earth Charter, which in its formulation was influenced by the IRM and which as a framework can contribute to our conversation of how the IRM might best respond to the eco-crisis.

Having heard presentations on the current axial moment, on how five religious traditions have been responding to the eco-crisis, on the development of the IRM, and on the Earth Charter, the core working group, comprised mainly of action-oriented leaders of major organizations and initiatives in the IRM, will then turn to 1. getting more acquainted with each other, 2. gaining an overview of what the represented organizations have done and are planning to do in response to the eco-crisis, 3. assessing the current role of the interreligious community and the possibility of a greater role for the community to play in addressing the eco-crisis, and 4. generating a document that will describe how the IRM could make its most impactful response to the eco-crisis and outlining steps toward that goal.

Specifically, in the fifth, sixth, and seventh sessions we will turn our attention to four questions that are critical to the work of this track. Our discussions will be facilitated by participants, each of whom will begin by offering comments of their own in response to one of the four questions.

Session five:

  1. How engaged and effective has the IRM been in response to the eco-crisis?

(facilitation by Kusumita Pedersen)


Session six:

  1. At present, how critical is the role of the IRM in addressing the eco-crisis, and what unique and possibly indispensable resources can it bring to the issue?
  2. What would a fully mobilized interreligious response to the eco-crisis look like?

(facilitation by Rita Sherma)


Session seven:

  1. What is needed to stimulate a more urgent and robust response by the interreligious community to the eco-crisis?


In the seventh and eighth sessions, participants will take stock of our discussions in the preceding sessions and on that basis begin drafting a document that will outline what we envision the IRM can do in response to the eco-crisis. We will also discuss possible uses of the document to stimulate effective collaborative action on the part of the interreligious community. One other topic of discussion, in the eighth session, will be the possibility of a publication that could draw from our reflections across the eight sessions.


Schedule of this track’s eight sessions

  1. 2:00-3:30, Friday, June 5th
  2. 4:00-5:30, Friday, June 5th
  3. 11:00-12:30, Saturday, June 6th
  4. 2:00-3:30, Saturday, June 6th
  5. 4:00-5:30, Saturday, June 6th
  6. 11:00-12:30, Sunday, June 7th
  7. 2:00-3:30, Sunday, June 7th
  8. 4:00-5:30, Sunday, June 7th



Chris Ives


Bill Lesher


Joseph Prabhu


Core Working Group


  1. Neddy Astudillo GreenFaith      Confirmed    


  1. Phil Clayton Claremont School of Theology     Confirmed


  1. Rick Clugston Earth Charter                               Confirmed


  1. Allis Druffel Interfaith Power and Light           Confirmed      


  1. Mel Gottlieb Academy for Jewish Religion Confirmed


  1. Ruqayya Khan Claremont Graduate University   Confirmed


  1. Chris Peters 7th Generation Fund      Confirmed                              for Indigenous Peoples


  1. Kusumita Pedersen Parliament of World Religions     Confirmed


  1. Rita Sherma Claremont School of Theology     Confirmed