Sustainable Societies Conference II - Visions for a Viable Future: In a Time of COVID & Climate Calamity

Friday, March 19th 2021, 10:00am to 6:00pm
Online Event, 2400 Ridge Rd Berkeley, CA 94709

Visions for a Viable Future: In a Time of COVID and Climate Calamity

In the face of the global COVID-19 pandemic and climate calamity, when the linked injustices of economic, social, and environmental inequity are on the rise, what answers can our religious traditions provide? These are the questions we’ll be exploring at Sustainable Societies Conference II.

Please see the schedule below, and click the image to download the Conference Program:

10:00 – 10:15 AM

Rita D. Sherma


Visions for a Viable Tomorrow
10:20 AM – 12:45 PM

Devin P. Zuber & Rita D. Sherma | Presiders
Matthew R. Hartman | Administrator


PLENARY SESSION A | Visions for a Viable Tomorrow: Imagining Planetary Vitality
Plenary Session ‘A’ focuses on alternatives to the current grand narrative(s) that solidify and sustain the global structures of commerce and culture that encourage climate denial and move us closer to catastrophic change. Beyond utility and dominion, what are the alternative stories of/about the Earth? What are the embedded/embodied languages that allow the ecosphere to speak to us, and that can lead to a realignment of human relationships with the more-than-human world?

Rita D. Sherma | Center for Dharma Studies, GTU
Whitney Bauman | Florida International University
Devin P. Zuber | Center for Swedenborgian Studies, GTU
Bron Taylor | University of Florida

PLENARY SESSION B | Visions for a Viable Tomorrow: The Arc of Justice
Plenary Session ‘B’ is predicated on the conviction that social, economic, restorative, and environmental justice cannot and should not be divorced from the revitalization and reclamation of terrain for preservation and conservation. Human ecology and the protection and renewal of ecosystems can and need to work in tandem to avoid the injustices associated with the history of the conservation movement. Climate justice must be integrative justice.

Valerie Miles-Tribble | Berkeley School of Theology, GTU
John Grim | Forum on Religion and Ecology, Yale University
Cynthia Moe-Lobeda | Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Church Divinity School of the Pacific, GTU

Healing from a Pandemic: Ecopsychology & Ecospirituality
1:30 – 3:00 PM

Devin P. Zuber | Presider
Matthew R. Hartman | Administrator
The complex series of crises we face today is convened by a causal substratum. The economic, social, political, and technological factors that comprise this substratum are well-known and often addressed. Yet, there are deeper causal levels that often lie unacknowledged and these elements are rooted in the moral, spiritual, and perspectival dimensions of the human experience. Does a particular perspective view the human ‘Other,’ and more-than-human world as sentient, alive, and intrinsically valuable or does it not? This is a critical question and its answer is often based on factors conditioned by worldviews and epistemologies. Healing and restoration for the planetary community rests on the reflections and resolutions that engage this depth dimension of the psychological and spiritual life. A lack of awareness of this dimension inhibits an integrative and comprehensive approach to the linked challenges of zoonotic viral pandemics, climate change, ecological degradation, and environmental, social, and economic inequities. This panel applies wide-angle lenses to the need to reassess the psychological and spiritual roots of the present linked crises and foregrounds solutions from ecopsychological and ecospiritual thought and practice.


Peter Kahn | University of Washington
Patrick Beldio | Marymount University
Debashish Banerji | California Institute of Integral Studies
Cogen Bohanec | Center for Dharma Studies, GTU
Craig Chalquist | California Institute of Integral Studies

The Ethics & Justice of Ecological Consciousness: Local & Global Perspectives
3:30 – 6:00 PM

Rita D. Sherma | Presider
Matthew R. Hartman | Administrator
Ecological worldviews, religious traditions, and the ethics of indigenous cultural philosophies contain complex networks of moral and ethical expectations for individual behavior that acknowledge the importance of communitarian responsibility. Such foregrounding of responsibility integrates and transcends singular independent rights of individuals. The presentations on this panel examine the extent to which realization of one’s embeddedness in the larger human and planetary community alters behaviors and contains the potential for action towards just, compassionate, and ethical relationships with human ‘others,’ and the more-than-human world. How are these implemented in local and global contexts?


Elizabeth Allison | California Institute for Integral Studies
Stephanie Kaza | University of Vermont
Christopher Key Chapple | Loyola Marymount University
Munir Jiwa | Center for Islamic Studies, GTU
Emily Silverman | Graduate Theological Union
Cecilia Titizano | University of San Francisco

This event is online only