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Religion, sustainability are focus of humanities talk

July 01, 2011

Bron Taylor, a professor of religion and nature at the University of Florida will deliver a talk titled "Religion, Spirituality, and the Quest for Environmental Sustainability" at 7 p.m., July 5 at the Flagstaff Public Library, 300 W. Aspen Ave.

Taylor’s lecture, which is free and open to the public, is the third in a 4-week series sponsored by the Institute for Humanities Research at Arizona State University in cooperation with Northern Arizona University. The lecture series examines the historical, literary, religious, philosophical, and cultural dimensions of sustainability and is part of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) summer institute, “Reframing the Land Ethic: The Humanities and Sustainability,” which brings an interdisciplinary focus to a popular but little understood topic: sustainability.

The lecture series builds on a 2009 NEH institute on Aldo Leopold, who was a founding voice of environmental ethics. Some scholars find the seeds of sustainability in “The Land Ethic,” a chapter of Leopold’s “A Sand County Almanac” (1949), which describes a relationship to nature that re-imagines society’s responsibilities to current and future generations. Leopold's vision was informed by the humanities, especially “the wisdom,” he wrote, afforded by history, philosophy, religion, and literature. “Reframing the Land Ethic” argues that at its root, sustainability is a humanistic concept.

Taylor studies the conservation of the earth’s biological diversity and how human culture might evolve rapidly enough to reverse today’s intensifying environmental and social crises and suffering. His most recent book, “Dark Green Religion: Nature, Spirituality and the Planetary Future,” examines spiritual practices of North American that hold nature as sacred and have, in many cases, replaced traditional religions.

The Institute for Humanities Research in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences was established in 2005. It has taken the lead in promoting excellence and innovation in humanities scholarship by contributing to scholarly research that addresses socially significant issues and engaging the community. More information is available at or 480-965-3000.

Kirsten Keane,
Institute for Humanities Research