You are here

Creation Justice 2021: exploring the ethics & spirituality of the environmental crisis

26 January 2021

Dr Ruth Valerio, Director of Global Advocacy and Influencing for Tearfund, has kicked off this term’s Chapel programme ‘Creation Justice 2021’ which will see speakers from a range of religious and secular perspectives discussing the ethical and spiritual aspects of the environmental crisis.

The Revd Katherine Price, the Chaplain, says the idea of an environmental theme for Hilary 2021 started off as a sermon series to brighten the grey Hilary term evenings. This was back before COVID, when Evensong was competing with dozens of other ways to occupy a Sunday night! But it caught the imagination of the Provost, who saw the opportunity to expand it beyond the Chapel and tie it in to wider projects across the College involving students, staff and Fellows.

The College is in a unique position. It’s not only an academic institution, bringing together scholars and students from across the humanities and science disciplines. It’s also a place of worship and of creative excellence, and a community where we live and work together. The question of how we live sustainably is therefore not just an academic one. It’s a question facing each of us as individuals, and also the College as an institution, as it makes choices about its resources and responsibilities. The Provost is particularly keen to use the College’s unique capacity to bring together different people and perspectives to inform and influence our approach to these big questions.

The programme was of course planned long before we knew how different life would be at the start of 2021. That sadly meant cutting back on some of our favourite plans: in particular, we’d hoped it would coincide with a planned series of ‘curated meals’, combining the College’s famed hospitality with a celebration of sustainable eating. But we are excited to be bringing to the College – or at least to a screen near you! – a diverse range of speakers including Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg of Masorti Judaism UK, Catholic theologian and evolutionary biologist Dr Celia Deane-Drummond, and psychologist of religion Dr Adam Baimel. The shift online also gives us the chance to welcome Old Members and friends from across the world.

The environmental emergency may seem like yesterday’s crisis in light of the current pandemic. But, as Ruth Valerio pointed out in the live discussion session on Sunday, the current crisis has taught us that we are able to work together and make big changes to the way we live, when we see it’s really necessary.

The Chaplain says, “The environmental crisis is not just a scientific problem, it’s a human problem. It’s about how we live and how we motivate ourselves to change, when simply presenting the facts clearly isn’t enough.”

Ruth’s sermon can be viewed on YouTube now and details of the full programme can be found on our Creation Justice 2021 webpage. To be notified of new videos, and to register for live events, please register your interest for Creation Justice 2021 here.