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School of Environment and Natural Resources


Student essays on religion and environmental values published

Sep. 7, 2022
Cover of the student published book, "Emerging Perspectives on Religion and Environmental Values in America" with a forest in the background.

A new book published by The Ohio State University Pressbooks, Emerging Perspectives on Religion and Environmental Values in America is available and in use as a companion textbook for ENR 3470 - Religion and Environmental Values in America taught by Greg Hitzhusen, assistant professor of professional practice in the School of Environment and Natural Resources.

The book is a student-written collaboration of students, who were formerly enrolled in the course with each one of the chapters beginning as a term paper in the course.

“Working with these student authors has been the most enriching experience of my teaching career. Religion and Ecology is a very diverse and expansive field, so I always tell students that they’ll need to fill in the gaps of what we don’t cover in the course, and they’ve risen to that challenge. This book extends material from the course and also highlights some of the more interesting and emerging questions in the field," Hitzhusen said.

Currently comprised of 28 chapters (access the Table of Contents here), the book explores the numerous and diverse ways religious, spiritual, and philosophical beliefs permeate into environmental topics and compliments Dr. Hitzhusen’s class textbook, Religion and Environmental Values in America, which is also published through The Ohio State University Pressbooks.

Three students in the School of Environment and Natural Resources served as editors of the book, as well as chapter contributors. Learn more about the student editors.

"We’re grateful for support from Pressbooks at Ohio State – the book was actually published during the last day of class on Earth Day in April of 2022, amid a 'book release party' that served as a reunion for student authors from past classes. Mike Shiflet, Digital Publishing Coordinator, came to the publication party and as the students counted down the moment, clicked publish on his laptop to make the book officially part of the Pressbooks Digital Bookshelf at Ohio State. That was a cool way to launch the book.”

Engagement with the bookChapter 1 screenshot of Manifest Destiny: The American Ecological Crisis? by Georgia McLachlan with a photo of Georgia.

Since its publication in April, the students’ book has received over 2500 page views, and the chapter by student editor Georgia McLachlan has received nearly 2000 of its own page views. 

“Georgia’s chapter is noteworthy, because 1800 of its pageviews in the past year have come from readers of the main online textbook for the course (which has links to the new student book), making it the most viewed part of the original course textbook in the past year," Dr. Hitzhusen added.

"That just goes to show the importance of the voices and ideas of our students. This makes me even more excited to work with new student authors who are continually renewing the content of the course. I learn so much from them, and it’s wonderful to provide a way for their insights to reach a wider audience."

Emerging Perspectives on Religion and Environmental Values in America will continue to add new chapters on a rolling basis, and might lead to a “volume 2” edition in the future. Hitzhusen notes that this evolution of expression is a perfect fit for the field of religion and the environment.

“This is an emerging, diverse and dynamic field, and it intersects with a wide range of communities, ideas and issues. The main textbook for the course is intended to set a table for better dialogue about important topics like this, and especially in a time when political polarization can stifle or overshadow civil discourse on key issues, I’m thrilled to watch as my students demonstrate what thoughtful scholarship and dialogue can look like. It’s very inspiring to me as a teacher and as a citizen."

Greg Hitzhusen