Religion and the Environment: How Faith Communities are Caring for Our Common Home in Columbus and Beyond

 

The Ohio State University Center for the Study of Religion presents

Religions of the World Past and Present 2019-2020 Community Lecture Series featuring

Gregory E. Hitzhusen

Assistant Professor of Professional Practice

Religion and the Environment: How Faith Communities are Caring for Our Common Home in Columbus and Beyond

ABSTRACT: Faith communities in Ohio and beyond have been working in support of environmental sustainability, and some of the best examples of this nationwide have happened right here in central Ohio. From engagement in food security and food justice issues to addressing climate change and caring for the ecological integrity of religiously owned land, helpful models of creation care have been fostered in faith communities. One recent example is the Facilities Office of the Columbus Diocese, which recently won AEP Ohio's 2019 Energy Efficiency Champion Award for wide-scale projects in diocesan schools and churches that are now saving over $700,000 dollars per year in energy costs, with significant carbon emissions reductions. Other examples include the award-winning food security and racial equity work centered around Seminary Hill Farm at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio, and the vision for environmental justice of Ohio Interfaith Power and Light. Data about the widespread sustainability efforts of faith communities have been hard for scholars to capture, but Dr. Hitzhusen and many collaborators are developing an online database and clearinghouse that highlights the work of local faith communities and makes resources and tools for sustainability in local communities more accessible. Pope Francis's 2015 environmental encyclical, Laudato Si', called for a global ecological conversion of mind and heart, bolstered by action, and this lecture will highlight how local faith communities are creatively fulfilling that call, with links to resources that can help communities and individuals engage more deeply.

Dr. Greg Hitzhusen is Assistant Professor of Professional Practice of Religion, Ecology and Sustainability in the School of Environment and Natural Resources at Ohio State. His forthcoming online book: Religion and Environmental Values in America explores the many facets of faith community engagement in sustainability. He was the founding executive director and later board chair of Ohio Interfaith Power and Light, and previously worked as Land Stewardship Specialist for the Eco-Justice Programs of the National Council of Churches and as an Associate for the National Religious Partnership for the Environment. In addition to his statewide sustainability work with faith communities, he is currently consulting with the Creation Care Team of the Catholic Diocese of Columbus to support sustainability efforts in the diocese's 105 churches and 53 schools.


This lecture is co-sponsored by the Center for the Study of Religion and the School of Environment and Natural Resources at The Ohio State University and the Office of Social Concerns of the Catholic Diocese of Columbus.