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Midyear Meeting 2021: Religion and Environment (ONLINE)

Since circumstances have not evolved as positively as we had anticipated, it has been decided to organise this event ONLINE ONLY.

Teaching staff: Morning programme: Professor dr. Erik Borgman (TiU) and dr. John-Harmen Valk (LU). Afternoon programme: various contributors, see NGG website.
Course description: Religious leaders and institutions contribute significantly to the discourse about environmental questions such as climate change and the relation between human beings and other species. This year’s Midyear Meeting coincides with the Spring Meeting of NGG (Nederlands Genootschap voor Godsdienstwetenschappen) and discusses God – human – nature interaction as an emerging issue in the academic study of religion. The afternoon programme explores this theme in-depth from the perspectives of various religions. For more information, see the NGG website. In addition, NOSTER presents a workshop about Pope Francis’ influential encyclical Laudato Si’ preceding the conference. Anyone studying environmental questions in our fields will encounter this papal document. In other areas, too, official ecclesial documents find their way into the public and academic debates. But what is their status and impact within as well as outside the Roman Catholic Church, and how do theologians and scholars of religion read them? The morning programme of the Midyear Meeting 2021 explores these questions, for which Laudato Si’ will act as a case study. Professor Borgman and dr. Valk will elucidate the Pope’s theology of creation but will also demonstrate how the Pope reimagines the classical divide between the religious and the secular, enabling him to formulate an impactful theological response to pressing societal issues.
10:00-10:30 Virtual coffee/tea and welcome on zoom.
10:30-12:30 Morning session about Laudato Si’
12:30-13:30 Lunch break
13:30-18:00 NGG conference, see detailed programme at the NGG website
Course objectives: This event contributes to broadening your horizon and to community building.
Learning goals:
The participant is able to

  • Briefly explain the respective ways in which religions perceive God – human – nature interactions
  • Name some characteristics of the official ecclesial documents, particularly the genre of the papal encyclical
  • Reflect on the relation between the religious and the secular in Laudato Si’
  • Point out how he/she could address such a document within the context of his/her own discipline or research

Preparation: Please fill in the Preparation section on the PRA-Form provided directly below the ‘register’ button and submit this before 8 March 2021. This assignment includes reading excerpts from the encyclical and two newspaper articles illustrating its impact:

  • Francis. Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ of the Holy Father Francis on Care for Our Common Home (pp. 3-14, 45-74, 75-101). Vatican Press. May 24, 2015. Available here. [Note: table of contents found at end of document.] Two questions from the perspective of the study of religion that may be helpful in exploring this document are:
    – How might the turn to affect and embodiment in the study of religion resonate with and/or contribute to an interpretation of the Pope’s encyclical?
    – How should one think about the nature of “the secular” and “the religious” in light of the Pope’s encyclical?
  • Monbiot, George. “Why We Fight for the Living World: It’s about Love, and It’s Time We Said So.” The Guardian. June 16, 2015. Available here.
  • Goldenberg, Susan, and Sabrina Siddiqui. “Jeb Bush Joins Republican Backlash against Pope on Climate Change.” The Guardian. June 17, 2015. Available here.

Teaching methods: Lectures and discussion
Assessment methods: Active participation in the morning and afternoon programmes. In addition, participants fill in the PRA-form provided in the right-hand column: the preparation section is due before 8 March 2021 and the reflection section before 27 March 2021
Participation and registration: Open to all (Re)Ma students and PhD Candidates. A maximum number of 20 participants can register for this event. Once you have created a personal account on this website and have logged-in, you can register for the Midyear Meeting by clicking the green “Register for this item” button on the right before 8 March 2021. Please note that if due to unforeseen circumstances you are unable to attend, please inform the NOSTER office as soon as possible and before 8 March 2021 at the latest. If you fail to notify the NOSTER office of a cancellation you will be charged €25.
Costs: Participation is free for ReMA students and PhD candidates registered at NOSTER or at any other research school in the Humanities. For others, the fees are €50 For more information about membership and costs, click here (for ReMA students) or here (for PhD candidates).
Place: Zoom details will be given a day before the event.
Credits and workload: 0.5 EC, including participation, PRA-form, and preparatory readings.


  • 12 Mar 2021 9:30 18:00
    Radboud University, hosted on Zoom
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