Section 6: TRACK 6

Reimagining and Mobilizing Religious Traditions in Response to the Eco-Crisis

← Return to Seizing an AlternativeSection VI

Track 6: Reimagining and Mobilizing Religious Traditions in Response to the Ecological Crisis

We will primarily explore interreligious mobilization in response to the contemporary global eco-crisis. After delineating recent shifts in socio-religious consciousness, we will identify ecological resources in at least five religions and examine interreligious responses. We will consider what further reorientation and action are needed in response to the crisis.

Track Heads

Chris Ives


Christopher Ives teaches in the area of Asian Religions and in his scholarship he focuses on modern Zen ethics. In 2009 he published Imperial-Way Zen, a book on Buddhist social ethics in light of Zen nationalism, especially as treated by Buddhist ethicist Ichikawa Hakugen (1902-86). Currently he is engaged in research on Zen approaches to nature and Buddhist environmental ethics.

His other publications include Zen Awakening and Society (1992); a translation of philosopher Nishida Kitaro’s An Inquiry into the Good (co-translated with Abe Masao, 1990); a translation of Hisamatsu Shin’ichi’s Critical Sermons of the Zen Tradition (co-translated with Tokiwa Gishin, 2002); The Emptying God (co-edited with John B. Cobb, Jr., 1990); and Divine Emptiness and Historical Fullness (edited volume, 1995).

He has also published numerous book chapters and articles in The Journal of Buddhist Ethics, The Eastern Buddhist, The Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, and elsewhere. He serves on the editorial board of The Journal of Buddhist Ethics.

Bill Lesher

Interfaith Activist and Religious Leader

Bill Lesher has a long and distinguished career in promoting global interreligious dialogue. Before becoming an interfaith activist, he spent 20 years as president of Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, where he helped establish the Chicago Center for Religion and Science. As a Chicago religious leader, he was active in the centennial celebration of the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 1993 and has been closely connected ever since. He served as an ambassador for the Council in preparation for the 1999 Parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, was convener of the 2004 Parliament in Barcelona, Spain, and stepped down as chair at the end of 2009 Melbourne Parliament. Along the way, Bill Lesher has been an adviser, trustee, consultant, and chair to numerous international educational, ecumenical, interfaith, and human rights organizations.

Joseph Prabhu

Professor at California State University at Los Angeles

Joseph Prabhu is Professor of Philosophy and Religion at California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA). He is active as both a scholar and a peace activist. He has edited The Intercultural Challenge of Raimon Panikkar (Orbis Books, 1996 ) and co-edited the two-volume Indian Ethics: Classical Traditions and Contemporary Challenges (Ashgate Publishing Co, 2007 and 2015 Oxford University Press, India). He has three books in process, “Liberating Gandhi: Community, Empire and a Culture of Peace,” due out in 2015, and “Hegel, India and the Dark Face of Modernity.,” and “Human Rights in Cross-Cultural Perspective,” due out in 2016. He has been a Senior Fellow of the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard University and of the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago. He has also been co-editor of Re-Vision from 1995-2003 and a contributing editor of Zygon. He is the past President of the international Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy, 2008-2010, and the Program Chair for the Melbourne Parliament of the World’s Religions, 2009. Among his many awards are the Outstanding Professor Award of CSULA for 2004-2005 and the Lifetime Achievement Award from Soka Gakkai, USA and a Commendation from the Southern California Committee of the Parliament of the World’s Religions.

He serves on the Board of Trustees and the Executive Committee of the Council of a Parliament of the World’s Religions. He was the Program Chair for the 2009 Melbourne Parliament. He serves as well on the Advisory Board of the Toda Institute for Peace Research associated with Soka Gakkai International. He is also the Co- Chair of the Southern California Committee of a Parliament of the World’s Religions, and on the Special Advisory Committee of the American Academy of Religions. In addition, he serves on a panel of experts advising the UN High Commission for Human Rights and the International Security Forum based in Geneva.

He has lectured and taught at more than fifty universities either as visiting professor or as guest lecturer in Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe and the United States.

Suggested Resources

Links to Section-related books and media for pre-conference preparation include:

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