This initiative aims to be an incubator for cutting-edge research and projects that operate at the intersection of Sustainability Studies and religion within pluralist, multireligious contexts.
In a time of a global pandemic, calamitous climate change, and unprecedented social unrest in search of justice, the need for research towards a sustainable future is of critical importance. The term “sustainability” refers to efforts that serve current human needs while also leaving a legacy of healthy ecosystems, strong global economies, as well as just and compassionate societies for future generations. In recent years, Sustainability Studies has become an academic field that is increasingly interdisciplinary, incorporating research from the STEM and design fields. However, Sustainability Studies has tended to bypass or ignore the knowledge systems embedded in the transformative power of religion, theology, spirituality, and the ethical resources unearthed in the world’s wisdom.
The GTU’s Sustainability 360 Initiative seeks to address this lacuna, bringing the academic study of religion and theology into conversation with other disciplines in the field of Sustainability Studies. Co-chaired by Dr. Rita D. Sherma, Director of the GTU’s Mira & Ajay Shingal Center for Dharma Studies and Chair of the Department of Theology & Ethics; and Dr. Devin Zuber, Associate Professor of American Studies, Religion, & Literature and Chair of the Department of Historical and Cultural Studies in Religion, Sustainability 360 aims to be an incubator for cutting-edge research and projects that operate at the intersection of Sustainability Studies and Religion within pluralist, multireligious, and intersectional contexts.
Since Fall 2016, the Sustainability 360 Initiative has sponsored numerous conferences, courses, lectures, publications, and workshops, and is in the process of developing a graduate certificate in Religion & Sustainability Studies.
News and Events
In this online event, Dr. Rita Sherma and Dr. Devin Phillip Zuber co-chairs of the GTU’s Sustainability 360 Initiative, reflect on how this current great disruption has pushed us to return to our roots, and to reengage and reread the texts we love that have so formatively shaped us. You can find both a video reflection and blog from them on our website after noon PST on April 17, 2020.
Scholarship in Action
As part of the GTU’s Spiritual Care and Ethical Leadership of our Times series, Sustainability 360 co-chairs Drs. Rita Sherma and Devin Zuber share reflections on the COVID-19 pandemic and the way that environmental classics such as Walden by Henry David Thoreau can provide stability by reminding us of our interconnectedness — with each other and with the natural world around us.
In April 2017, the GTU hosted a two-day conference exploring interreligious approaches to building sustainable societies. The event featured panel conversations and presentations from a host of renowned educators, including more than twenty scholars from across the GTU and its member schools and centers. Plenary speakers included internationally known scholar of ecology and religion Dr. Mary-Evelyn Tucker of Yale University, and Dr. Anantantand Rambachan of St. Olaf College.
Sustainable Societies: Interreligious Interdisciplinary Responses Rita D. Sherma and Purushottama Bilimoria, editors
Radical Immanence: A Hindu Liberative Ecotheology of the Divine Feminine, by Rita D. Sherma, Bloomsbury, 2020.
A Language of Things: Swedenborg and the American Environmental Imagination by Devin Zuber
Monograph with the University of Virginia Press, 2019.
“American Romanticism, Seeker Spirituality, and Environmentalism.” Chapter contribution to Handbook of American Romanticism. Edited by Phillip Löffler, Clemens Spahr, and Jan Stievermann. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2021.
“Can Beauty (still) Save the Planet? Eco-Aesthetics for the Anthropocene.” Chapter contribution to the exhibition catalogue Gestures to the Divine: Works by Hagit Cohen. Berkeley: Center for the Arts and Religion, 2018.
"Art and Enchantment in the Anthropocene / Kunst und Bezauberung in der Anthropozän." Co-written with Suzanne Schwarz Zuber; commissioned essay for the Berliner Festspiele 2017 on "The Unknown Cloud," an interactive artwork by Christer Lundahl & Martina Seitl. Berlin: Der Tagesspiegel, 2017.
"“Radical Correspondence”: Emerson, Swedenborg, and Environmental Poetics.” Chapter contribution to Emanuel Swedenborg: Exploring a World Memory. Commemorative proceedings of the 2010 UNESCO Swedenborg Symposium at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Stockholm: RSAS, 2013.
“Satanic Mills and Jerusalem Redeemed: William Blake’s Urban Ecopoetics.” Green Letters 10 (Winter 2008 / 2009). Edited by Rupert Hildeyard. Journal of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (United Kingdom). 39-49.