Stephen Scharper

Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, U of T Mississauga and School of the Environment.


1) School of the Environment: Room 2103, 33 Willcocks St., tel: 416-978-7433; fax: 416-978-3884; email:
2) Dept. of Anthropology, U of T Mississauga: Rm. HS 350, 3359 Mississauga Rd. N., North Building, Mississauga, Ont. L5L 1C8; tel: 905-569-5795; fax: 905-828-3837.

B.A. Hons., Toronto; M.A. (Theology), Toronto; Ph.D. (Religious Studies), McGill.

Research Interests:

Environmental ethics, environmental worldviews, liberation theology and ecology, religions and environmentalism, ecological worldviews.

Research Projects:
Water: From Resource to Elemental Foundation of Life with Tim Leduc (Environmental Studies, York University). Investigates the importance for environ-mental thought and policy of reflecting on water not just as a precious resource, but as a vital element, foundational to all life.

Cosmological Underpinnings of Urban Sustainability. This research has explored some of the cosmological and spiritual presuppositions that lie behind the integration of urban ecological thought and planning, involving the work of wildlife biologist Aldo Leopold and cultural historian and Passionist priest Thomas Berry.

Religion and Ecology: Exploring the Interconnection of Liberationist and Ecological Theologies (recently completed SSHRC project).   This research was on the integration of liberation theology and newer religious approaches to environmental questions, such as the new cosmology of Thomas Berry. It attempted to probe differences and confluences between social justice approaches and more spiritual, worldview based environmental approaches. While much of the religious conversation around ecology has entailed ontological, doctrinal, and cosmological or "worldview" questions, there have also been religious responses that take issues of class, race, gender, poverty, and justice seriously. Indeed, many tensions have surfaced and continue to exist between these two broadly outlined ecological approaches. Thus, the question emerged whether the ecological contributions of the world's religions are chiefly in the realm of worldviews, doctrine, and cosmology, or in the realm of a political and economic critique. 
   This research probed this question by focusing on one of the most challenging religious developments of the past thirty years - that of the theology of liberation, a theology that takes poverty, and increasingly, ecological destruction, seriously. Early formulations of the theology of liberation, through its use of the social sciences and critique of structural economic and political systems such as developmentalism and modernization, yields an approach where questions of worldview and cosmology potentially unite with social, economic, and political critiques, leading to a possible integration of social, religious, and ecological concerns instructive for religious ecological engagement.

Recent Publications:
Scharper, S. B. and H. Cunningham. Lifeform, livelihood and lifeway: reflections on urban and planetary futures. In D. Nonini (ed). The Future of Cities,  Blackwell Publishers. (Forthcoming.)

Scharper, S. B.  2013. For Earth's Sake: Toward a Compassionate Ecology. Toronto: Novalis. 224 pages.

Scharper, S. B. 2012. From community to communion: the natural city in biotic and cosmological perspective. In The Natural City: Re-envisioning the Built Environment (see above), pages 89-103.

Stefanovic, I.L. and S.B. Scharper (eds.) 2012.  The Natural City: Re-Envisioning the Built Environment. University of Toronto Press. 356 pages. 

Scharper, S.B. 2011. The power and the glory: a spiritual connection with energy can save us in many ways. Alternatives 5: 10-13.