View the Chautauqua Institution Lecture series "Journey of the Universe". Scroll to mark 19:20 to view my talk.
Hear my interview on Rachel Carson's Silent Spring at WFHB here.
Find my complete cv here.
Associate Professor, Department of Religious Studies
Director, Consortium for the Study of Religion, Ethics and Society (CSRES)
Sycamore Hall, Rm. 227
Ph.D., Indiana University, 2000
- Religion and Nature
- Environmental and Animal Ethics
- Science and Religion
- Evolution controversies
- Religion and Bioethics
- Environmental History and Literature
I received my Ph.D. from Indiana University in 2000. Before coming (back) to IU, I taught for a year at Pace University in New York City and for three years at McGill University in Montreal. I came back to Indiana’s Religious Studies Department both because of the strong interdisciplinary profile of the program, and because of the natural beauty of IU and Bloomington.
In the broadest sense, I am interested in the value and ethical significance of natural processes. My areas of research include environmental ethics, and the science-religion interface, including evolution controversies past and present. Much of my research focuses on conflict and compatibility between scientific (particularly Darwinian) and religious interpretations of nature and natural processes. My first book Environmental Ethics, Ecological Theology, and Natural Selection (Columbia, 2003) critiques the tendency of Christian environmental ethics, or “ecological theology,” to misconstrue or ignore Darwinian theory, and examines the problems this creates for developing a realistic ethic toward nature and animals.
My more recent research has focused on Rachel Carson, whose book Silent Spring (1962) arguably marks the beginning of the environmental movement in America and abroad. I have also written about the religious and moral dimensions of what Carson called a "sense of wonder" for nature, and the role of empathy and wonder in Carson’s writings on the sea. I co-edited (with philosopher and nature writer Kathleen Dean Moore) a volume of interdisciplinary essays on Carson's life and work, titled Rachel Carson: Legacy and Challenge (SUNY, 2008). My current research centers on two projects. The first pertains to the role of wonder and enchantment in (and with) science, nature, and religion, and the variety of ways in which scientific narratives, particularly those involving evolution, are being "re-enchanted" and recast as mythopoeic stories with moral content. A second project examines nature-study movements for children, from the 19th century to the present, and the way in which scientific and religious perspectives have given, and are giving, impetus to these initiatives.
I am actively involved in IU’s Individualized Major Program and have taught in the Human Biology Program.
- Fellow, Rachel Carson Center for Environmental Studies, Munich, Germany. July-Dec., 2010
- Co-applicant, “Virtuous Empathy,” Grant from University of Chicago, funded by the John Templeton Foundation, 2010. Richard Miller, PI.
- New Frontiers in the Arts and Humanities Grant 2010. Project: “Nature-Study and the Empathic Imagination 1900-Present.”
- New Frontiers Exploration Fellowship 2010
- Participant, Interdisciplinary Faculty Workshop on Empathy (sponsored by IU's Institute for Advanced Study and Poynter Center) 2009-2010
- Trustees Teaching Award, Indiana University, 2008
- Active Learning Grant, Indiana University, 2008
- Global Citizenship Course Development Grant (Course: "Religion, Ethics, and the Global Environmental Crisis") 2007
- Indiana University Summer Faculty Research Fellowship, 2006
- Fellow, Center for the Study of Religion, Princeton University (Darwin and Religion Project), 2000-2001
- Templeton Foundation Science and Religion Course Competition Prize, 1999-2000
- Indiana University College of Arts and Sciences Dissertation Year Fellowship, 1999-2000
- Religious Studies Departmental Dissertation Fellowship, 1999
Courses Recently Taught
- COLL-C 103 Pleasure, Pain, and Peak Oil
- HUBI(Human Biology)-B 300 Living Downstream
- REL-R 202 Religion and Animals
- REL-D 340 Religion and Bioethics
- REL-D 350 Religion, Ethics and the Environment
- REL-D 430 Evolution and Ethics
Rachel Carson: Legacy and Challenge (SUNY Press, 2008)
Environmental Ethics, Ecological Theology, and Natural Selection (Columbia University Press, 2003)
Articles and Book Chapters
“On Letting a Thousand Flowers Bloom: Religious Scholarship in a Time of Crisis,” in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion (Roundtable on Climate Destabilization), Vol 83, No. 2, June 2015.
“Forbidden Fruit: Wonder, Religious Narrative, and the Quest for the Atomic Bomb,” in Celia Deane-Drummond, Sigurd Bergmann, and Bronislaw Szerszynski, eds., Technofutures and the Sacred: Transdisciplinary Perspectives. eds. (Ashgate, 2015).
“Contested Wonder: Biological Reductionism and Children’s Nature Study,” in the Journal of Religion and Society, Supplement Series 11 (2015).
"Science as Sacred Myth? Ecospirituality in the Anthropocene Age,” in R. Rozzi et al (eds.), Linking Ecology and Ethics for a Changing World: Values, Philosophy, and Action. Springer (Dordrecht: 2013)
"I See You: Interspecies Empathy and Avatar,” Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature, and Culture. 4.4. (2010) 457-477.
"Fact and Fiction, Fear and Wonder: The Legacy of Rachel Carson.” 2009 (2008) Soundings: An Interdisciplinary Journal 91 (3-4) 2 (actual publication date Aug. 2009)
“The Secular and Religious Sources of Rachel Carson’s Sense of Wonder.” In Rachel Carson: Legacy and Challenge, Lisa H. Sideris and Kathleen Dean Moore, eds. SUNY, 2008.
“Evolving Environmentalism: Ecotheology in Creation/Evolution Controversies.” Worldviews: Environment, Culture, Religion. 11(1). Mar 2007.
“Religion and the Meaning of Ecology,” The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Ecology, Roger Gottlieb, ed., Oxford UP, 2006.
“Religion and Environmentalism in America,” Faith In America,[Three Volumes], Charles Lippy, ed., Greenwood Press, 2006.
“Writing Straight With Crooked Lines: Holmes Rolston’s Eco-Theology and Theodicy,” Nature, Value, and Duty: Life on Earth with Holmes Rolston, III, Christopher Preston and Wayne Ouderkirk, eds. Springer Press, 2006.
“Intelligent Design, Science Education, and Public Reason.” Poynter Center White Paper. Robert A. Crouch, Richard B. Miller, Lisa H. Sideris. Poynter Center for the Study of Ethics and American Institutions, Indiana University. 2006.
“Environmental Ethics, Ecological Theology, and Natural Selection” Environmental Stewardship: Critical Perspectives, Past and Present, R.J. Berry, ed., T&T Clark International, 2006
“The Ecological Body” [on Rachel Carson]. Soundings: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 85 (4-5), 2003
“One Step Up, Two Steps Back: Ethics, Aesthetics, and Savagery in Darwin’s Evolutionary Theory.” Soundings: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 84(3-4), 2002
“Roots of Concern with Nonhuman Animals in Biomedical Ethics,” bioethics issue of Journal of the Institute for Laboratory Animal Research, 40(1), 1999 (with David H. Smith, and Charles McCarthy)
"Silent Spring still resonates in our discourse .”Bloomington Herald Times guest column, November 28, 2012.
Feature in Catalyst newsletter