European Forum for the Study of Religion and the Environment

Religion in Dangerous Environmental-and-Climate Change

A transdisciplinary workshop in Trondheim (Norway), 9 -11 October 2008

Arranged by the “European Forum for the Study of Religion and the Environment” and the “Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research”, and hosted by the Faculty of Arts, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), and the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters (DKNVS)

The current scientific, political and public discussions about how to mitigate, and adapt to, impacts of global climate change are dominated by propositions for technological and economic problem solutions. However ecologically informed and sustainable some of the proposed strategies are, they are shaped by the limits of contemporary mechanistic and economy-oriented worldviews that tend to externalise nature. While the reductionist worldview played a dominant role both in creating regional material wealth and in causing the current dangerous environmental crises – of which global climate change is only the peak of the iceberg – it becomes more and more obvious that modern (industrialised) societies are in need of a cultural, or spiritual, reinstatement if the Earth is to take a sustainable path into the future.
Given the massive, worldwide problems that are to be expected under climate and environmental change; the fact that a large part of the world’s population is not (yet) subject to the technocratic worldview; and shortcomings of current strategies and policies, it is imperative to complement the existing technological and economically oriented problem solutions with alternative prespectives that integrate the entanglement of humans and their environment in their narratives.
The focus of this workshop is on what cultural predicaments contribute to global climate/environmental change, how religion in particular works in critical (catastrophic) processes of environmental change, how humans can live in and with the ongoing crisis, and what new orientations could take place.
Specific topics addressed are:
• How are “tipping points” in nature related to “tipping points” in culture?
• How can the study of values, visions, spiritualities and images of life contribute to a deeper understanding of the interplay of nature, culture and the environmental challenge obvious in global climate change?
• Do we need a renewed understanding of ritualisation in the context of global change, and how are aesthetics and ethics intertwined in religious practices with regard to the environment? How can aesthetic and artistic explorations of landscape change interact with scientific and religious views?
• What kind of culture/spirituality is powerful under global change (e.g. eco-spirituality as it appears in old and in new religious traditions and processes)?
•  How are indigenous cultures responding to environmental change?
• What can we learn from environmental history, with regard to our own European history of civilisation, modernisation and globalisation?

The workshop is arranged in a series of cooperation between the “European Forum for the Study of Religion and the Environment”, <> , and the “Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research”, <>  , and it is sponsored by the Faculty of Arts at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters (DKNVS). It will take place in Trondheim from October 9 (afternoon) to October 11 (noon), 2008. Five sessions will approach the theme in different sections. Contributions will be given by scholars from Climate Impact Science, Religious Studies, Theology, Cultural Studies, Environmental History, and Visual Arts.

The sessions will take place at the University´s main building and its “Globalrommet” on the 2nd floor (see map below). Participants need to book their lodgings, either by themselves or assisted by the workshop secretary (see the list of hotels below, please ask the reception to achieve the university price). The seminary cost incl. all meals (Thursday and Friday dinner and Saturday lunch) are 1200:-NOK (153:-€) . Trondheim, a medieval pilgrimage centre, can be approached by train (from Oslo, ca 7 hours) or flight (from Oslo, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, London, Stockholm, with SAS, KLM, Norwegian). A shuttle bus from the airport takes you directly to the hotels down town.

For more information and registration please contact:
Kari B. Berg, Department of Archaeology and Religious Studies,, phone +47-73 59 65 78 Please register at latest by 22 September.

Invited and confirmed speakers
Hardy Brix, painter, Århus, Denmark,
Davide Brocchi, social researcher, Institute Cultura21 e.V., Cologne
Dr. Dieter Gerten, PIK, Potsdam
Prof. Dr. Laurel Kearns, sociologist of religion, Drew University
Dr. David Kronlid, environmental ethics and pedagogy, Uppsala University
Dr. Timothy B. Leduc, Environmental Studies, York University, Canada
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Lucht, physicist, PIK, Potsdam
Prof. Dr. Michael Northcott, Edinburgh University
Dr. Anne Primavesi, Fellow of the Westar Institute and the Jesus Seminar, Santa Rosa, California and of the Lokahi Foundation, London
Dr. Stefan Skrimshire, theology/ethics,Lincoln College,Manchester University

Workshop Committee
Prof. Dr. Sigurd Bergmann, EFSRE, Trondheim
Dr. Dieter Gerten, PIK, Potsdam


Sigurd Bergmann, born in Germany and educated in Germany and in Sweden, works as professor in Religious Studies at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim. His previous studies have investigated the relationship between the image of God and the view of nature in late antiquity, the methodology of contextual theology, visual arts in the indigenous Arctic and Australia, as well as visual arts, architecture and religion. He has co-managed the research group on “Technical spaces of mobility” and chairs the “European Forum on the Study of Religion and Environment”. Ongoing projects explore the relation of space/place and religion. His main publications are Geist, der Natur befreit (Mainz 1995, Russian ed. Arkhangelsk 1999, rev. ed. Creation Set Free, Grand Rapids 2005), God in Context (Aldershot 2003), Architecture, Aesth/Ethics and Religion (ed.) (Frankfurt/M, London 2005), In the Beginning is the Icon (London 2008) and Spaces of Mobility (ed. with T.Sager and T.Hoff) ) (London 2008), Ethics of Mobilities (ed. with T.Sager) (Aldershot 2008), Theology in Built Environments (ed.) (Frankfurt/London 2008), Nature, Space & the Sacred (ed. wth P. Scott et alt) (Aldershot forthcoming).

Painter Hardy Brix draws his immense landscapes from remote regions. He goes to geographic extremes, and records his impressions from the end of the world, where high skies meet sea and land, without minor disturbances such as humans and their interference with nature. The canvas is a memory image, painted in peaceful Denmark, but crystallized by impressions from previous regular studies in Svalbard, Greenland and Antarctica. The workshop will present pictures from the Arctic as well as the artist’s reflection about the embodied aesthetical approach to environmental change. Cf.

Sociologist and journalist Davide Brocchi was born in Italy and lives in Cologne, Germany. He has founded the cultural network of “Attac” and the foundation “Cultura 21”, which he chairs beside of working for the Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR) and the University of Lüneburg. His work strongly emphasizes the cultural dimension of sustainabiltiy.

Geographer Dieter Gerten works as a hydrologist and ecologist in the Research Domain “Climate Impacts and Vulnerabilities” at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). His research is focused on quantitative assessments of global freshwater resources, the interconnections between vegetation and water, and the relation of hydrology and religion. He is also teaching courses on global water management and earth system analysis at the universities of Potsdam and Basel.

Laurel Kearns works as ass. professor of Sociology of Religion and Environmental Studies at Drew University, USA. She has recently (with C. Keller) edited Ecospirit: Religions and Philosophies for the Earth (New York: Fordham 2007) .

David Kronlid holds a doctoral degree in Ethics at the Department of Theology, Uppsala University, Sweden. He works as lecturer at Uppsala University´s facultuy for pedagogy and a national research fellow in a poject about “climate capabilities”. He has earlier worked as post-doc-fellow in the Trondheim based research programme on “Technical spaces of mobility”. His research interests are ecofeminism, environmental ethics, education for sustainable development and crossdisciplinary education and research on environment and development issues. Kronlid has published Ecofeminism and Environmental Ethics (Uppsala 2003) and Miljöetik i praktiken (Lund 2005).

Timothy B. Leduc holds a doctoral degree in Environmental Studies at York University, Canada, with his dissertation (2002) on The Climate Of Unknowing: Climate Change, Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, and Hermeticism. His research investigates the history of economics and religion, and the climate change discourse with regard to science, political economy, and cross-cultural challenges.

Wolfgang Lucht has been trained in solar system physics and is now a chair of the Research Domain “Climate Impacts and Vulnerabilities” at PIK, and as Professor of Biosphere Dynamics and Earth System Research at the Institute of Geoecology, University of Potsdam. A physicist turned geoecologist, his current work addresses the future of the biosphere, the effects of climate and land use change on global landscapes, the role of humans in the Earth’s environment, and Earth system analysis in general.

Michael Northcott is Professor of Ethics in the University of Edinburgh. His most recent book A Moral Climate: The Ethics of Global Warming (Orbis Books, 2007) reflects his multidisciplinary approach to environmental ethics which includes political economy as well as natural science, philosophy and theology. His current research on biodiversity conservation, and on policy responses to climate change is focused on the role of religious and cultural practices and traditions in the determination of environmental values and behaviours.

Theologian Anne Primavesi became a Research Fellow at the Centre for the Interdisciplinary Study of Religion at Birkbeck College, University of London, after holding a Research Fellowship in Environmental Theology at the University of Bristol. She is also a Fellow of the Westar Institute, Santa Rosa, California, founded in 1986 to advance religious literacy through the academic study of religion translated into a common idiom. The context for her theology has been the scientific worldview offered by James Lovelock’s Gaia theory. She has explored this systematically in Sacred Gaia: Holistic Theology and Earth System Science (London 2000), and in Gaia's Gift: Earth, Ourselves and God after Copernicus (London 2003). Her present research interests centre on how best to express our embodied relationships with and within the whole community of life on earth. Most recently she has published Gaia and Climate Change: A Theology of Gift Events (London: Routledge 2008).

Theologian Stefan Skrimshire works as a research fellow at the Lincoln Theological Institute, Manchester University, where he focuses on the philosophical bases for thinking about risk, security, crisis and other endist discourses in the light of recent political responses to climate change and global terrorism. His PhD thesis, Politics of Fear, Practices of Hope explored the function of apocalyptic rhetoric within the war on terror.

List of hotels

(Please, register as a participant of the NTNU workshop, which will give you the university rate for the room, see below. Please make your hotel booking early, as hotels can be overbooked.)

Hotel Quality Augustin
Kongensgate 26
NO-7011 Trondheim
TELEFON: +47 73 54 70 00
TELEFAX: +47 73 54 70 01
(single room 870:-NOK)

Hotel Rica Nidelven
Havnegt. 1-3
NO-7400 Trondheim
Tel.: +47 73 56 80 00
Fax: +47 73 56 80 01
(single room 965:-NOK)

Clarion Collection Hotel Bakeriet
Brattørgata 2
NO-7010 Trondheim
Tel.: (+47) 73991000
Fax: (+47) 73991001
E-mail: cc.
(single room 1190:-NOK)

Pensjonat Jarlen
Kongens gate 40
NO-7012 Trondheim
Tel: (+47) 73 51 32 18
Fax: (+47) 73 52 80 80
(single room 490:-NOK)

Informations about the city at:

A City Map (where the red arrow marks the University building at “Gløshaugen”)