2021 Annual Conference – Practical Theology as Ecotheology
2021 Virtual Annual Conference
12th – 16th July 2021
Practical Theology as Ecotheology
In an era when scientists warn there is limited time left in which to reverse the most catastrophic effects of climate change, BIAPT 2021 will turn its attention to this most urgent of issues and to wide-ranging engagement with ecological thinking. How do we interpret and respond to our contemporary ecological crisis in the light of our diverse faith traditions? What theological resources, practices and convictions will enable us to respond most creatively and prophetically to planetary changes? What kinds of conversations between science and theology do we need to encourage and enable?
We are excited to have secured some excellent contributors for our 2021 conference, including:
Keynote speaker: Dr Seforosa Carroll,
Seforosa (Sef) is a Fiji born Rotuman who spent her formative years growing up in Lautoka, the Western side of Viti Levu in Fiji. These formative experiences continue to inform Sef’s theological reflections on interfaith and cross-cultural relationships, and gender and culture from a diasporic perspective of a migrant who calls Australia one of her homes. Sef graduated with a PhD in theology at Charles Sturt University in 2015. Sef is a Research Fellow of the Public and Contextual Theology Research Center (PaCT), Charles Sturt University, Australia and was formerly a visiting lecturer with the School of Theology, United Theological College Charles Sturt University in theology. Sef is a CTI Fellow and was a resident member of the 2017-2018 Inquiry into Religion and Migration at the Center of Theological Inquiry, Princeton. Sef will complete her time with UnitingWorld at the end of October where she worked as a theological researcher (climate and gender) and facilitating church partner relationships in Australia and the Pacific. Sef’s research interests are in the challengers of gender based violence, climate migration/displacement and justice, and religious pluralism/interfaith dialogue. Sef is a great believer in the powerful role theology can play in bringing about transformative change. Sef began a new role with the World Council of Churches based in Geneva on January 1 2020 as the Programme Executive for Mission from the Margins.
Climate Change, Faith and Theology in the Pacific (Oceania)
The Pacific, ‘the liquid continent’, is among a number of countries in the world on the forefront of climate change. For the low lying atoll communities of Tuvalu, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Tokelau and the Maldives time is already running out. The rising sea level, the ‘overflowing ocean’ (Pilkey, Linda Pilkey-Jarvis, & Pilkey, 2016) is drowning them out. Within the last five years Tonga, Vanuatu, Fiji and Samoa have experienced destructive category 4 and 5 cyclones. The effects of El Nino are currently being experienced in the highlands of PNG, parts of Vanuatu and Fiji. Many continue to die of hunger due to famine. It is expected that 4.37 million people in the Pacific are likely to be affected and at risk from drought (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs). The communities of the Pacific are already suffering the effects of climate change. The changes to the environment are having an impact on the spiritual and cultural lives of communities. The church and faith are critical pillars for Pacific Island communities and an important aspect of cultural identity. These pillars are now being challenged by the impact of climate change. This paper will consider the theological and spiritual implications of climate change as experienced by communities in the Pacific. The paper will consider how and why theology can either be transforming or disempowering mediators for change and therefore cannot be ignored in the conversations on climate change in the Pacific. The paper will explore the theological questions people are asking, the challenges communities are facing, and the role of theology and faith in building resilient communities.
Keynote speaker: Dr Hilary Marlow
Hilary is a Biblical scholar and a freelance researcher and writer on faith and the environment. She works part-time as Graduate Tutor and Director of Studies at Girton College, Cambridge, and teaches Old Testament in the Faculty of Divinity. Hilary has honours degrees in Social Sciences (University of Manchester) and Biblical Studies (King’s College London), and her 2007 PhD from the University of Cambridge was published as Biblical Prophets and Contemporary Environmental Ethics (Oxford 2009). Her primary research focus continues to be eco-critical readings of biblical texts, and she also incorporates insights from critical spatiality and new materialism into her work. She also speaks on faith and the environment to other faith groups (in particular Jewish and Muslim). Hilary is a member of the Editorial Committee of the Grove Books Biblical Series and a member of the Steering Group for the Society of Biblical Literature’s Ecological Hermeneutics Programme Unit. For many years she has been actively involved in the Christian conservation charity A Rocha and speaks regularly on environmental concerns to lay and specialist audiences.
Creation, Humanity and Hubris in the Old Testament
In the context of ever-worsening environmental degradation, scientists as well as religious leaders increasingly recognise the role of moral and spiritual values as drivers of people’s behaviour, and have drawn attention to the role of religion in moderating and transforming community attitudes towards nature. But the Western Christian tradition has come under criticism for legitimising the exploitative use of earth’s resources, based on an exclusive focus on Genesis 1 and misleading interpretations of it. This paper will explore a number of other ways in which the Old Testament can support a robust environmental theology and praxis. It will first consider some neglected aspects of creation theology rooted in the scriptures and in the insights of the church fathers. The paper will then explore humanity’s role within creation including biblical injunctions against hubris and injustice, before discussing some Old Testament ethical principles and their implications for ecotheological praxis.
Activist Responses to Climate and Ecological Crisis
Three panelists engaged with climate justice activism share reflections on their practice and its intersections with religion, including discussion of faith as a motivation for action, how aspects of Christian theology may be deployed for activism in problematic ways, and decolonising the climate movement.
Dr Anna Fisk is Lecturer in Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Glasgow, and an activist with Extinction Rebellion Scotland. As an academic, she writes and teaches on feminist theology and the intersection of religion with culture, weaving autobiography into her theological reflection and religious scholarship. As an activist, Anna is a member of Extinction Rebellion Scotland, who use non-violent direct action to pressure the Scottish and UK governments to act on climate emergency and ecological catastrophe.
layla-roxanne hill is a writer/curator-artist/
non-commodifiable collective liberation and is also active within the trade union movement, holding positions within the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) National and Scottish Executive Council(s) and Scottish TUC (STUC) Black Workers’ Committee. layla-roxanne has a forthcoming title with Zed Books, co-authored with Dr Francesca Sobande in 2021.
Zarina Ahmad’s work as Climate Change & Environmentalist, CEMVO Scotland, combines two important social justice issues: Equalities and Climate Change. She aims to change the landscape of the environmental sector with more engagement with diverse communities, raising the voice from the Ethnic Minority sector. Her expertise is behaviour change and community action, empowering the marginalised, primarily through connecting faith to the protection of the earth. Zarina is responsible for establishing many EM projects across Scotland, particularly in faith-based communities and inter-faith groups. She is a regular voice discussing environmental issues on both BBC Scotland and the community Radio Awaz. Zarina also delivers training specialising on Climate Change, Climate Leadership, Climate Justice, Eco Feminism, and Equalities & Diversity.
Dr Sam Tongue A poet and theologian, Sam is based in the Faculty of Theology at the University of Glasgow. He is a widely published poet with two pamphlet collections: Stitch (Tapsalteerie, 2018) and Hauling-Out (Eyewear, 2016) and his first full collection, Sacrifice Zones (Red Squirrel Press, February 2020). Sam is also project coordinator at the Scottish Poetry Library and regularly chairs and leads panels and workshops at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Sam holds a PhD in Religion, Literature, and Culture and lectures in ‘Theology Through Creative Practice’ at the University of Glasgow.
“My present academic and creative work questions whether humans are separate from the rest of creation; this idea is a major contributor to our multiple ecological crises. In part, ‘religion’ is to blame and theologies of human dominion or stewardship are extremely problematic; anthropogenic climate change is baked into these ideologies. At the Practical Theology as Ecotheology conference, I am looking forward to learning and reflecting with you on how theological and poetic alternatives may be found within the theologies that are available or that may be developed. During the present period of mass extinction, hope lies in whether these can be deployed for practical purposes, seeding radical political and social change.”
BIAPT is committed to helping those who might otherwise not feel able to attend our annual conference. We have 2 bursary schemes:
- Conference Bursaries may be applied for by any BIAPT member in financial need.
- BAME Bursaries may be applied for by BAME & BAME heritage BIAPT members.
NB: These schemes will not run in 2020.
For further details about our new BAME Bursary scheme, supported by the Susanna Wesley Foundation, please read on.
BIAPT is keen to facilitate Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students, scholars and practitioners, and those of BAME heritage, to participate and contribute to its Annual Conference. [We understand that some prefer to identify as African, African Caribbean, Asian, Majority World Christians or Christians from the Majority World, or of Majority World heritage.] We want to address the marginalisation of their voices, questions, experiences and perspectives and to become a space for deeper and broader theological conversation.
To that end, BIAPT is partnering with the Society for the Study of Theology (SST), and with the Susanna Wesley Foundation, to introduce a bursary scheme for BAME scholars, students and practitioners that will cover much of the cost of attending the conference. The scheme also involves partner organisations to whom successful applicants who are eligible members of those organisations can apply to top-up the bursary. We are still in the early stages of recruiting partner organisations. You can find a list of those who currently partner with us here. If you are BAME or someone of BAME heritage and would like to join us at the conference but the cost presents an obstacle to you doing so, please do apply. These funds are for those for whom the full conference cost would pose a financial difficulty.
There are a limited number of bursaries available, and bursaries will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. We anticipate that this scheme will be oversubscribed so we suggest you apply promptly and consider making an additional application for a BIAPT Conference Bursary in the event you are not successful in your BAME Bursary application.
The scheme works in two stages:
- Apply here for the BAME Bursary (NB Scheme is not yet open). Successful applicants will be awarded bursaries of at least £200 (supported by funding from the Susanna Wesley Foundation).
- If successful, and you are an eligible member of one of our partner organisations, you can apply to them to ‘top up’ the award by a further £100.
- Applicants who successfully applied for a BAME Bursary to attend the SST conference in the same calendar year will not be eligible to apply.
- If you are successful in your BIAPT BAME Bursary application, you will not also be awarded a BIAPT Conference Bursary.
- In order to receive a bursary, you must be a member of BIAPT. If you are not already a member, please follow this link.
We welcome 200 – 300 word abstracts for 20 minute papers, from a range of disciplines and religious and spiritual traditions and emerging themes in non-religion. To learn more please click on the link below
We welcome 200 – 300 word abstracts for workshops of 40 or 80 mins duration. To read more please click on the link below.
We are looking for a wide range of artistic exhibits to populate our conference virtual gallery. To learn more please click on the link below.