My teaching and research interests in Religious Studies fall within the broad field of "Religion and Science" with a special focus on "Religion and Ecology/Nature." The driving question of my interests and commitments to the field is: How do religious beliefs, insights, doctrines, and practices shape the material-physical worlds around us? This question assumes that some sort of "religious sentiment" is part of what it means to be a human being in the world. In other words, even if one considers oneself atheist or outside of any established religious tradition, as humans we still seek to value the world, to make sense of the world, and to ask questions about the meaning of life. These tasks have largely been left to "religions" in the recorded history of human beings. Thus, even if one does not adhere to or practice a given tradition, it is undeniable that these religions have shaped the cultures in which we live and the answers to these big questions in life. In my work, I analyze how answers to these "big questions" have shaped the human relationship with the rest of the natural world. In doing so, I see the human world-culture, thought, economics, ideas, etc.-as part of the rest of the natural world. Furthermore, I am interested in analyzing how these "big questions" are changed by forces such as global climate change and globalization. In the end, I understand these religious questions to be questions about ethics: how ought we to live responsibly as human beings vis. a vis. the rest of the natural world.
This work has been at the heart of my education. After being turned on to "Religion and Ecology" in a course at Hendrix College entitled "Religion, Animals, and the Earth" I went on to complete a Master of Theological Studies at Vanderbilt Divinity School. My thesis there, "The Illusion of the Isolated Self" propelled me into questions of how theological and philosophical anthropology shape human-earth understandings and relations. After completing my Master's, I worked on the Science and Religion Course Program at the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences. Also during this time, I began working for a group at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley called the Theological Roundtable on Ecological Ethics and Spirituality or TREES. All of this work became the basis of my dissertation at the Graduate Theological Union, "From Creatio ex Nihilo to Terra Nullius: The Colonial Mind and the Colonization of Creation." After the completion of my dissertation, and before joining the FIU faculty, I worked as a Program Associate for the Forum on Religion and Ecology.
These interests are also reflected in my book projects, articles and edited volumes including: Theology, Creation and Environmental Ethics (Routledge 2009) and Religion and Ecology: Developing a Planetary Ethic (2014). Currently, with the help of a Humboldt Fellowship, I am working on my third, single-authored book tentatively entitled Truth, Beauty and Goodness: Ernst Haeckel and Religious Naturalism.
Areas of Expertise
Religion and Science, Religion and Nature