ICS Calendar Title: Christianity and the Ecological Crisis

ICS Course Code: ICSD 130509 W13

Instructor: TBD

Term and Year: Winter 2013

Last Updated: July 17, 2012


1. Course Description

2. Reading Schedule

3. Course Requirements

4. Description and Weighting of Elements to be Evaluated

5. Required Readings

6. Additional  Readings

1. Course Description

This course explores the intersection between a biblical view of creation and the current response (or lack thereof) to the threats and opportunities posed by our current ecological crisis.  In doing so, the course will seek to enrich the student’s understanding of this crisis, including the various ideological factors that have contributed to its emergence.


Christian culture is often criticized for its perceived silence concerning (and even its contribution to) the global ecological crisis.  We will study the work of thinkers who desire to address this perceived gap in Christian practice and reflection.  In doing so, we will consider the normative question concerning the role a robust environmental ethic should play in a Christian’s walk of faith.


We will also explore the reasons why Christianity in the West has not been more concerned about the earth’s health, and with this critical discernment in hand, move on to think anew about what God’s love for the world might mean for Christians living in the midst of an ecological crisis.  What (perhaps neglected) resources might there yet be within the diverse pockets of the Christian tradition that can help Christians respond appropriately to ecological concerns?  What other reflective resources are being made available through new theological reflections on such movements as neo-agrarianism and ecofeminism?

2. Reading Schedule









21 Jan

Christianity: Friend or Foe?


Lynn White, “The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis”;  Clive Ponting, “Ways of Thought”; “Interview: Richard Land”




28 Jan

Economy and Ecology


Carter and Gale, “Lumberjacks in Lebanon”; Jared Diamond, “Easter’s End”



4 Feb

Science and Progress


Goudzwaard, Vander Vennen, and Van Heemst, “In the Shadows of Progress” & “Myth, Ideology, and Idolatry”




11 Feb

Christianity and the Gift of Creation


Wendell Berry, “Christianity and the Survival of Creation” & “The Gift of Good Land”



A telephone conference call will be arranged for a suitable time during Week 4.




18 Feb

For the Beauty of the Earth I


Introduction-Ch. 2




25 Feb

For the Beauty of the Earth



Chs. 3-4




3 Mar

For the Beauty of the Earth III


Chs. 5-6




10 Mar

For the Beauty of the Earth IV


Chs. 7-8




17 Mar

The Paradise of God I


Introduction-Ch. 1




24 Mar

The Paradise of God II


Ch. 2



A telephone conference call will be arranged for a suitable time during Week 10.




31 Mar

The Paradise of God III


Chs. 3-4




7 Apr

The Paradise of God IV


Ch. 5-Conclusion




14 Apr




Wendell Berry, “The Way of Ignorance” & “The Burden of the Gospels”



5 May: Email Assignment 2 as an attachment in Word or Rich Text format


3. Course Requirements

Online discussion forum

Essay paper

4. Description and Weighting of Elements to be Evaluated

Online discussion forum: 30%

2,000 words (10-12 postings of approximately 200 words each)

Essay paper: 70%

Length: 3,000-4,000 words

5. Required Readings

Bouma-Prediger, Stephen. 2001. For the Beauty of the Earth: A Christian Vision for Creation Care. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

Wirzba, Norman. 2003. The Paradise of God: Renewing Religion in an Ecological Age. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

6. Additional Readings

Berry, Wendell. 1992. Christianity and the Survival of Creation. In Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community: Eight Essays. New York: Pantheon: 93-116.

         . 2002. The Gift of Good Land. In The Art of the Commonplace. Ed. Norman Wirzba. Emeryville, CA: Shoemaker & Hoard: 293-304.

         . 2005. The Way of Ignorance & The Burden of the Gospels. In The Way of Ignorance and Other Essays. Emeryville, CA: Shoemaker & Hoard: 53-67; 127-137.

Carter, Vernon Gill, and Tom Dale. 1996. Lumberjacks in Lebanon. In Living with the Earth: An Introduction to Environmental Philosophy. Ed. Kent A. Peacock (Toronto: Harcourt, 1996): 95-99.

Diamond, Jared. 1996. Easter’s End. In Living with the Earth: An Introduction to Environmental Philosophy. Ed. Kent A. Peacock (Toronto: Harcourt, 1996): 65-78.

Goudzwaard, Bob, Mark Vander Vennen, and David Van Heemst. 2007. In the Shadows of Progress & Myth, Ideology, and Idolatry. Chs. 1 & 2 of Hope in Troubled Times: A New Vision for Confronting Global Crises. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic: 15-45.

Land, Richard. 2006. Interview. In Religion and Ethics Newsweekly: An Online Companion to the Weekly Television News Program. www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/week1012/interview.html

Ponting, Clive. 1991. Ways of Thought. In A Green History of the World: The Environment and the Collapse of Great Civilizations. New York: Penguin Books: 141-160.

White, Lynn. 1967. The Historical Roots of our Ecological Crisis. In Science 155 (1967): 1203-1207.

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