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Balancing Critique and Commitment: A Synthetic Approach to Teaching Religion and the Environment

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Abstract

Courses about religion and the environment should work toward a synthesis of critical thinking – teaching students to examine and question the interplay of environmental degradation, religious traditions, and new religious movements – and advocacy – helping students to embrace, articulate, and refine their own environmentalist commitments, in religious terms when appropriate. To meet these goals, teachers of religion and the environment can learn from literature on balancing faith and critical analysis in other religion courses. This literature will help us to clarify the goals of our courses, critically examine the environmental movement with our students, and remain trustworthy to those who do not share environmentalist commitments. See a companion essay in this issue of the journal (Jennifer R. Ayres, “Learning on the Ground”) and a response to both of these essays (Forrest Clingerman, “Pedagogy as a Field Guide to the Ecology of the Classroom”) also published in this issue of the journal.

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