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DIV 7083 Changing Climates:
Religion, Ethics, Ecology, and Economics
(3-credit hour travel seminar to the Oregon Extension School)

oregonmester posterCourse Dates: June 12-19, 2022

Cost: Transport to Medford, OR (US$500)

Local transportation, food, and board provided by course sponsors CTPML and Wendland-Cook. Financial support for travel to Oregon is available upon request.

Application Deadline: March 21, 2022

Please submit a 250-word essay on your interest in the course, and include a 3-page CV/resume by the deadline. Send all application materials and/or questions about the course to Dr. Laine Walters Young at


Course Description

A basic economic perspective is essential to the project, as 71 percent of global CO2 emissions are produced by 100 large corporations. Moreover, alternatives are emerging where people are engaging in sustainable agriculture around the world (often led by women and minority communities), cooperative businesses, and other forms of sustainable living. What are the theological and ethical resources that might guide such projects, and how do theology and ethics shape up differently when they engage the developing alternatives?

Conducted on the campus of the Oregon Extension School, the class will have access to ecological resources with the ability to study how humans impact the environment even in remote parts of the country, what possibilities there are to live sustainably on the land, and how Christian and other religious traditions have been able to create more sound relationships with the earth, in conversation with alternative religious expressions.

This class brings together theological, ethical, and economic perspectives in an examination of what has contributed to our current ecological crisis. There is some agreement in these fields that we are living in the “Anthropocene,” an age that is determined by humanity after the end of the “Holocene." Others have argued that we find ourselves in the "Capitalocene."

How can we better understand humanity’s role in environmental degradation and climate change, and how is humanity changing under those conditions? How are the fates of humanity and the planet connected? The goal of this analysis is to identify how the problems might be addressed and what alternatives are available to us.


  • Graham Reside, Executive Director, Cal Turner Program in Moral Leadership for the Professions and associate professor of ethics at Vanderbilt University
  • Joerg Rieger, Distinguished Professor of Theology, Director of the Wendland-Cook Program in Religion and Justice at Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt Co-sponsors: Cal Turner Program for Moral Leadership in the Professions and Wendland Cook Program in Religion and Justice

Applicable Divinity Concentrations

  • Religion and Economic Justice: Direct relationship to the topic.
  • Spirituality and Social Activism: Our hosts in Oregon maintain spiritual practices and participants will be invited to take part in some of these practices.

Faculty are willing to work with students to apply this course as credit to degrees earned outside of divinity.

Reading List

  • T. Wilson Dickinson, The Green Good News: Christ’s Path to Sustainable and Joyful Life (Oregon: Cascade Books, 2019).
  • Philip Jenkins, Climate, Catastrophe, and Faith: How Changes in Climate Drive Religious Upheaval (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021).
  • Naomi Klein, On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal, New York: Simon and Schuster, 2019.
  • Joerg Rieger, Theology in the Capitalocene: Ecology, Identity, Class, and Solidarity (Minneapolis: Fortress Press August 2022, forthcoming).
  • Kelsey Ryan-Simkins and Elaine Nogueira-Godsey. “Tangible Actions Toward Solidarity: An Ecofeminist Analysis of Women's Participation in Food Justice.” Forthcoming (PDF copies available).
  • George Zachariah, Alternatives Unincorporated: Earth Ethics from the Grassroots, Cross Cultural Theologies (London: Equinox: 2011). Wendland-Cook Interventions Wendland-Cook webinars