Altering the Nature of the World: Decentralising Humanity

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Wednesday 27 March

6.00pm for a 6.30pm start

Room 9, West Downs Quarter, University of Winchester, Romsey Road, Hampshire SO22 5HT

‘Only within the moment of time represented by the present century has one species - man - acquired significant power to alter the nature of the world’. These words were written by the ecologist Rachel Carson, remembered as the woman who pioneered the environmental movement through her book Silent Spring published in 1962. Carson presented an ecological view in which humans should not be superior to other life forms but rather as an equal partner with the multiple systems connecting the natural world. Although written with reference to the twentieth century it remains clear in the age of the Anthropocene that human beings are still altering the nature of the world, and not always with the best interests of our ecological systems at heart. Reflecting the necessity for human beings to reduce their negative impact on the natural world, the Institute for Theological Partnerships would like to focus in on what we can do as concerned individuals and communities, and why we should all do something. We have, as Carson states, the power to alter the nature of the world, but for the better.

That we live at a time of impending ecological crisis is no longer in doubt. However, questions remain about the extent to which worldview has contributed to the problem or may even present its solution. The emerging interdisciplinary field of Ecology and Spirituality attempts to provide answers, while examining the multifarious ways in which religion and spirituality impact upon our relationships with the wider, ‘other-than-human’ world. In this presentation I will outline the key developments in the field and suggest possible avenues for future research. I will also ask what our entry into the ‘anthropocene’ means for the Study of Religion more generally.

Dr Andy Letcher is a Senior Lecturer at Schumacher College, specialising in the intersection of science, religion and spirituality. He has a D.Phil in Ecology from the University of Oxford, and a PhD in the Study of Religion from what was then King Alfred’s College, Winchester. After a spell as an environmental activist during the 90’s, especially during the anti-roads protests, he moved across to the humanities, completing a PhD at King Alfred’s College Winchester. He is an expert on contemporary alternative spiritualities, especially modern Paganism, neo-shamanism and psychedelic spiritualities. A writer known for his critical approach, he is the author of Shroom: A Cultural History of the Magic Mushroom and a range of academic papers on subjects as diverse as fairies, animism, folklore, bardism and Druidry. He wrote the companion volume to The English Magic Tarot. A folk musician, he plays English bagpipes and Dark Age lyre, and for ten years fronted psych-folk band, ‘Telling the Bees’.

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Institute for Theological Partnerships

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