There is a need for broader literacy and deeper knowledge of the world’s religions and their ecological contributions. This course is designed as a gateway to the rich ecological dimensions of the Christian religious tradition. We delve into unique contributions from Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant Christianity, exploring views on and relationship with the natural world. We additionally highlight the relationship between Christianity and environmental justice, evangelical approaches to “creation care”, and Christian teachings on biodiversity, climate change, and the relationship between human, Earth, and cosmos.
Christianity & Ecology
Christianity & EcologyYale University
About this Course
Completion of Introduction to Religions and Ecology
Skills you will gain
Completion of Introduction to Religions and Ecology
For more than 300 years, Yale University has inspired the minds that inspire the world. Based in New Haven, Connecticut, Yale brings people and ideas together for positive impact around the globe. A research university that focuses on students and encourages learning as an essential way of life, Yale is a place for connection, creativity, and innovation among cultures and across disciplines.
Syllabus - What you will learn from this course
MODULE 1: Course Introduction
MODULE 2: Introduction to Religion and Ecology
We begin by situating Christianity within the study of Religion and Ecology. We explore topics such as creation, incarnation, and sacraments as an entry into Christianity and Ecology. We introduce the emergence of eco-theology as a shift in theological thinking that relates the teachings of Christianity to our contemporary ecological and climate related challenges.
MODULE 3: Overview of Christianity and Ecological Responses
We reflect on historical questions embedded in the study of Christianity and Ecology. How do our contemporary environmental challenges and questions relate to the earlier formation and development of Christianity? Foremost among these questions are ideas of stewardship and care for the Earth along with doctrinal issues regarding incarnation, especially as this theme relates to the historical figure of Christ, and the Cosmic Christ prominent in John’s Gospel and several of Paul’s Epistles.
MODULE 4: Sacramental Christianity: Earth as Sacred Icon
We focus on Orthodox Christianity and ecology under the leadership of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, first among the religious leaders of the Greek Orthodox Church. We follow the symposium he organized on the Adriatic Sea, which like all of his eight symposia focused on water issues. This conference brought together scientists, civil servants, journalists, and religious spokespersons to consider ecology, politics, and spirituality as a basis for more integrated environmental solutions.
MODULE 5: Christian Integral Ecology: “Cry of the Earth; Cry of the Poor”
We focus on Catholic theology and ecojustice under the leadership of Pope Francis, especially with attention to his encyclical letter, Laudato Si’: On Care for our Common Home (2015). The influence of this encyclical is widespread, including responses from other religions and transformative action led by the Laudato Si’ Movement. Through the lens of “integral ecology,” this document expands understandings of social justice to incorporate ecosystems and all forms of life.
MODULE 6: Embodied Christianity: Ecotheology in Practice
We focus on the impact of the Protestant Reformation movements in Christianity, especially with regard to their positions on the natural world as God’s creation. In the 16th Century, the Reformation opened new theological directions and institutional formations that have shaped human-Earth relations into the present. Christianity began to be guided by a broader community-church leadership as reformers engaged scripture and the natural world.
MODULE 7: “Integral Liberation”: Christian Ecojustice Engagement
We explore topics of significance for contemporary Christianity, namely environmental justice and the roles of women in Christianity and ecology. Building on Christian concepts of social justice, ecojustice has emerged in response to disproportionate environmental harms faced by marginalized communities. This integration of environmental and social issues affirms the writings, practices, and experiences of women in Christianity worldwide.
MODULE 8: Food, Animals, Biodiversity, and Climate Change
We explore emerging Christian perspectives regarding food, agriculture, animals, and biodiversity. We place this in the context of a “communion of subjects” affirming the profound interconnection of all life. We highlight emerging theological ethics and engaged religious action in response to the climate emergency.
MODULE 9: Christianity and Cosmology
How might Christianity flourish in relation to scientific insights about evolution? In this module, the first section focuses on the influence of Thomas Berry and a New Story. This evolutionary story is a context for human flourishing, an orientation for Christianity, and an inspiration for other religious traditions in a planetary era. The second section focuses on forms of worship that emphasize the sacred relationship between Human, Earth, and Cosmos.
MODULE 10: Course Conclusion
Frequently Asked Questions
When will I have access to the lectures and assignments?
Access to lectures and assignments depends on your type of enrollment. If you take a course in audit mode, you will be able to see most course materials for free. To access graded assignments and to earn a Certificate, you will need to purchase the Certificate experience, during or after your audit. If you don't see the audit option:
The course may not offer an audit option. You can try a Free Trial instead, or apply for Financial Aid.
The course may offer 'Full Course, No Certificate' instead. This option lets you see all course materials, submit required assessments, and get a final grade. This also means that you will not be able to purchase a Certificate experience.
What will I get if I purchase the Certificate?
When you purchase a Certificate you get access to all course materials, including graded assignments. Upon completing the course, your electronic Certificate will be added to your Accomplishments page - from there, you can print your Certificate or add it to your LinkedIn profile. If you only want to read and view the course content, you can audit the course for free.
Is financial aid available?
Yes. In select learning programs, you can apply for financial aid or a scholarship if you can’t afford the enrollment fee. If fin aid or scholarship is available for your learning program selection, you’ll find a link to apply on the description page.
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