The Root.ED Center

For Religion, Spirituality, Science and Sustainability

Project Overview

The climate crisis will force our collective cultural evolution, either through ill-planned, reactive measures or through an intentional paradigm shift informed by cultural and scientific literacy. Science alone cannot effectively address the crisis, which requires broad support to create new civilizational patterns, and even with new technological solutions, we may repeat our past mistakes if we have not interrogated the worldviews and values that have brought us here. The Root.ED Center for Religion, Spirituality, Science, and Sustainability aims to be a field-leading interdisciplinary educational hub for cultivating energized, humble, and hopeful climate leadership that asks, “What should humankind preserve from our past as we recognize with humility the blindspots that created climate change? What must we transform to survive and flourish in the short and long-term futures? How can religions such as Christianity, Islam, and indigenous lifeways motivate cultural transformation and lend meaning and hope?” Workshops will create cohorts of academics, practitioner experts, and community leaders drawn from diverse backgrounds to collaborate on research and projects shared widely to provide inspiration, resources, and strategies that build societal and ecological resilience.

Project Description

Transforming human civilization so that we not only survive the climate crisis, but also flourish with purpose, will require unprecedented global cooperation, widespread scientific and cultural/religious literacy, profound theological reflection, and enduring hope. The Root.ED Center for Religion, Spirituality, Science, and Sustainability aspires to become a hub for cultivating climate leadership dedicated to exploring and implementing the paradigm shifts necessary for facing the climate crisis resiliently, equitably, and meaningfully. While the climate crisis is daunting, we take the approach that Local+Local+Local=Global, such that when we connect and energize the many individual efforts working towards a sustainable future, a global movement emerges that makes civilizational scale change possible. We bring diverse international climate leaders into a growing community that cultivates their leadership skills, supports them in their climate grief and anxiety, instills hope, amplifies their impacts, generates imaginative collaborative research and strategies, and communicates their insights with a public audience in order to educate, inspire, and embolden further change.

This three-year project will establish the Root.ED Center as a learning and leadership community generating field-leading research and public education that explores what we should preserve and transform from the past as we chart a resilient, equitable, and meaningful future. Our approach is innovative in its research design, interdisciplinary and inter-sector collaborations, and support of leaders in both their research and spiritual/inner lives. Each year, the Center will hold 8 remote workshops with a cohort of 14 participants each, including scholars from a wide array of disciplines (particularly the natural and human sciences, religious studies, and theology), practitioner experts, and leaders from religious, civic, and activist organizations. At least one workshop will focus on youth leaders. In person conferences in year two and in year three will include a cohort of 35 participants each. Over three years, the twenty-six cohorts will bring a total of 400+ Root.ED climate leaders into a growing community that aims to foster a sense of belonging, intellectual excitement, practical support, resource sharing, hope, and common purpose.

Our facilitators guide each cohort through four phases of research. First, an opening workshop sparks inventive research through encouraging deep listening, creative collaboration, clear communication that overcomes disciplinary jargon, and learning with humility. We explore catalyzing questions such as: How can we implement new technologies while not repeating the past blindspots of the worldviews that created the climate crisis? What role can apocalyptic religions and theologies play in hindering or motivating environmental care? What can high carbon producing societies learn from indigenous lifeways about sustainability, and how is this best facilitated given the trauma of colonialism? How can eco-theology, especially in large religions such as Christianity and Islam, motivate the scale of change necessary for a resilient future? Next, comes the project support phase that nurtures unfolding projects. Then, in the cohort sharing phase, creators share their projects and obtain feedback.

Finally, in the public education phase, teams publish a form of their outcomes in our Root.ED Digital Resource Hub as Research and Scholarship, Practivism Projects, and/or Inspiration and Reflection. We plan for this digital space to host collaborative, rigorous research (i.e. scholarly abstracts, articles, books) as well as multi-modal public education (i.e. blogs, videos, project maps, organizational plans, art, poetry, or children’s books), creating an inviting site for scholarship, public education, inspiration, and theological reflection that helps others create more resilient lives filled with purpose.