Greening Faith: Between Theory and Practice

Wednesday, January 11, 2017 4:10:00 PM - Wednesday, January 11, 2017 5:30:00 PM
Rm.149(basement), Earth Sciences Building, 5 Bancroft Ave.
Environment Seminar

TANHUM YOREH, Assistant Professor, School of the Environment, University of Toronto

ABSTRACT:Religious teachings have been used to justify both domination and protection of the environment. Depending on their behavioral agenda, people have used various readings of religious texts to justify opposing ideas and consequently different practice. Translating religious theories, traditions and values into practice is always challenging. Today, with the pressing environmental concerns of climate change, species extinction and polluted ecosystems, making at least some use of religious approaches to the environment takes on more urgency. The three major Abrahamic faiths, for example, strongly admonish wastefulness. This position is consistent with modern environmental goals and in theory could set up a framework that promotes environmental protection. Yet, among observant communities the concept of limiting wastefulness has not been put into full practice in ways an environmentalist might expect. Empirical evidence suggests that observant communities are no more or less wasteful than any other communities when controlling for socioeconomic status. This seminar presentation will discuss why this might be the case and also address the following questions: Is there such a thing as a faith based environmental value? What, if anything, can be done to align faith based values with environmental ones? This seminar will relate to environmental worldviews broadly, and will focus on examples taken mainly from within the Jewish traditions. 

BRIEF BIO:Dr. Tanhum Yoreh is an Assistant Professor at the School of the Environment at U of T. He obtained his PhD in Humanities focusing on Religion and Environment from York University in 2014. He was the recipient of a Spalding Trust Award in 2015 for post-doctoral interfaith research. Dr. Yoreh has taught at Leo Baeck College in London, the Faculty of Divinity at the University of Cambridge, and the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations at U of T. He is interested in faith based wisdom as it pertains to the environment and in understanding how this wisdom is translated from theory into practice.