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Evan Berry Associate Professor Department of Philosophy and Religion

PhD, Religious Studies, University of California Santa Barbara; MA Religious Studies, University of California Santa Barbara; BA, Religion, The Colorado College

Evan Berry is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion and Co-Director of the Ethics, Peace, and Global Affairs master's program. His research examines the relationship between religion and the public sphere in contemporary societies, with special attention to environmental issues and international relations. By mapping the uneven, unsystematic, and extraordinarily diverse range of religious responses to climate change and other global environmental challenges, Berry’s research explores the way that religious ideas, practices, and forms of political authority are constructed and enacted in response to evolving historical conditions. From this perspective, climate change provides a complex but coherent way to understand the ever-shifting, necessarily local, yet decidedly global instantiations of religion in the modern world. Berry has written a number of journal articles on these themes, though they are most fully taken up in Devoted to Nature: The Religious Roots of American Environmentalism (University of California Press, 2015), which traces the influence of Christian theology on the environmental movement in the United States. In collaboration with American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies, Berry is the primary investigator of a Henry Luce Foundation funded project on “Religion and Climate Change in Cross-Regional Comparison.” This multi-year initiative advances research about religion and climate change in subtropical mountain regions (Andes and Himalayas), small island nations (South Pacific and Caribbean), and rapidly urbanizing regions of the developing world (South Asia and South America). Berry recently spent a year in residency at the State Department’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs as the American Academy of Religion’s (AAR) inaugural Religion and International Relations Fellow. He serves as the co-chair of the AAR’s Religion and Ecology Group and as the Secretary of the International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature, and Culture.
See Also
Philosophy and Religion Dept
For the Media
To request an interview for a news story, call AU Communications at 202-885-5950 or submit a request.

Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities

Research Interests

Professor Berry’s scholarship focuses on the interplay between religion and nature in modern western culture. Trained in both the sociology of religion and the philosophy of religion, his most recent research, part of an interdisciplinary collaboration called Ecotopia Revisited, was an ethnographic study of intentional communities in the Pacific Northwest. Such communities give expression to the rich connectivity between American spiritualities and ecological yearnings for a green future. This religious substratum beneath American ideas about and practices towards nature provides the basis for his ongoing academic research.

Selected Publications

  • “Religion, Nature and Daily Life,” in Religion in the Practice of Daily Life, Richard Hecht and Vincent Biondo, eds. (Greenwood) 2009
  • “Great Chain of Being” and “Puget Sound,” in The Encyclopedia of American Environmental History, Kathleen Brosnan, ed. (Facts on File) 2009
  • “Epilogue,” Death and Religion in a Changing World, K. Garces-Foley, ed. (M.E. Sharpe) 2005 
  • “Wilson, Edward O.” and “Religion and Environmental Concern: The Challenge for Social Science” (with James Proctor), in The Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature, Bron Taylor, ed. (New York: Continuum Press) 2005


  • “Seeking and Dwelling in Ecotopia: Spirituality and Community in the Pacific Northwest,” Understanding Sustainability: Perspectives from the Humanities, May 2009
  • “The Road to Nature: Automobile Pilgrimage and Nature Spirituality,” American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, November 2007
  • “Sacred Histories and Prophetic Spaces: Civil Religion in Museums of the American West,” American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, November 2006
  • “Origins and Adaptations of Secularization Theory in the American Context” (with Masen Uliss), International Society for Intellectual History Conference, April 2005
  • “Historical Issues in Religion and Ecology,” American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, November 2004
  • “Interrogating the Relationship among Religiosity, Spirituality, and Environmentalism,” Association for the Sociology of Religion Annual Meeting, August  2004
  • “Dimensions of the Sacred: Secular Worldviews, Place, and Environmentalism,” Religious Studies: What’s the Point? Lancaster, U.K., December 2003
  • “Interpreting Environmentalist Usage of ‘the Other’,” American Academy of Religion, Western Regional Meeting, March 2003

Honors, Awards, and Fellowships

  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, Lewis and Clark College, 2008
  • Mendell Endowed Graduate Fellowship, Capps Center for the Study of Religion and Public Life, 2007
  • Erasmus Institute Graduate Fellowship, 2005

AU Experts

Area of Expertise

religion and international affairs, climate change and society, environmental ethics, religion and environmental issues, religion in American politics, globalization and cultural change

Additional Information

Evan Berry is associate professor of philosophy and religion at American University and co-director of the Ethics, Peace, and Global Affairs master's program. His research focuses on the intersection of culture and environmental issues, especially where religious ideas, practices, and institutions inform how communities respond to environmental issues. He has a decade of experience as a researcher and as a policymaker on issues related to religion in public life. His recent book, Devoted to Nature: the religious roots of American environmentalism examines the history of environmental movements in the 20th century. His current research concentrates on the impact of religion on public policy issues of international significance, especially climate change, humanitarian aid, and sustainable development.

For the Media

To request an interview for a news story, call AU Communications at 202-885-5950 or submit a request.

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