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Evan Berry

Associate Professor Department of Philosophy and Religion

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.

Degrees

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

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Office
CAS - Philosophy and Religion
Battelle Tompkins - 111
Mondays and Thursdays 12-2pm
Contact Info
(202) 885-2493 (Office)
(202) 885-1094 (Fax)

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For the Media
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See Also
Philosophy and Religion Dept

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

Lectures

  • “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 Expert

Area of Expertise: Environmental ethics, religion and environmental issues, environmental issues and popular culture, religion in American public life

Additional Information: Evan Berry
is assistant 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 ideas of nature in modern Western culture, particularly the religious roots of contemporary environmental discourse. Trained in both social scientific and theoretical methodologies, his current scholarship includes an ethnographic study of intentional communities in the Pacific Northwest, a critique of the philosophical assumptions of climate-change ethics, and a book project on the role of religious language in the birth of the American environmental movement.
 

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