October 31-November 2, 2014

Northwestern University, Evanston, IL


“Religion and the Natural Elements” aims to cultivate new ways of thinking about religion and the natural world. The conference will focus on religion’s intersections with aspects of nature, from the environment, climate, flora, and fauna, to human interactions with the natural, in the form of spirits, gods and goddesses, and miracles, exploring the relationships among ecosystems, religious practice, and religious thought.


Survivors of Super Typhoon Haiyan march ...Survivors of Super TyThe study of these intersections is not limited to any one methodology or discourse. Papers will explore the modes by which humans interact with the natural world in ritual practice, in religious text, and in theological inquiry. A striking example might be the financial and theological responses of international religious organizations to the devastation of Typhoon Hayian in the Philippines in 2013. Papers might also address contemporary and/or historical issues of environmental change, cosmology, bioethics, evolution, or natural symbolism, among other topics that contemplate the natural environment, lived religion, and religious reflection.


The intersections of religion and the natural world offer rich points of discussion for graduate students who approach religion from a number of different fields, including religious studies, theology, philosophy, anthropology, history, gender studies, political science, sociology, and psychology.

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A Graduate Student Conference at Northwestern University