Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) - Projektnummer 387572851
Stewards of Creation and Children of Mother-Earth Bodhisattva: A Comparative Analysis of Religious Environmentalist Ethics and Action among Religion-Specific Groups and their Interreligious Networks in Germany
Anthropogenic climate change and planetary resource depletion are major crises facing humanity today. Given these problems’ global scope, ever more people seek to contribute to their solutions, including religious actors. The incorporation of environmental sustainability into religious discourse and practice raises important scholarly questions about how these issues are both transforming religious teachings and practices, and creating new interreligious exchanges. Despite much excellent research on these topics, only one study has thus far considered an aspect of religiously-motivated environmentalism in Germany. Yet Germany offers a rich field of study for this topic, due to its Green politics, the multiple attempts of the federal government to promote nature conservation and sustainability through religious communities, and Germany’s anxiety about having become a land of immigration. Against this backdrop, this study uses document analysis, semi-structured interviews and participant observation to examine religion-specific environmentalist groups that interact in various interreligious initiatives. This project seeks first to contribute to our understanding of the larger cultural, social and political forces that contribute to environmentalism as a dynamic factor of religious transformation within Germany. It then studies how the exchange of ideas in environmentalist-focused interreligious networking modifies the teachings and practices in the specific religions involved. Finally, by focusing on interreligious environmentalist dialog and the initiatives of individuals to create a sustainable society, the project considers the potentials and limitations for religious environmentalism’s contributions to civil society more generally.