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Cambridge Interfaith Programme

 

A joint academic summer school for advocates, policymakers, practitioners and faith leaders  

Cambridge, 1–5 July 2024

Co-convened by:  
LSE Religion & Global Society 
& the Cambridge Interfaith Programme

  • Can faith contribute to climate solutions where policy is not enough? 
  • How do religious perspectives shape our relationship with the Earth and our crisis response? 
  • How are religious communities building resilience in the face of climate change? 
  • What transformations are needed to tackle the climate emergency? 
  • Can religious insights inform decision-making in governance? 
  • How can religion, ecology, and economics interact in a sustainable way? 

The 2024 Summer School offers a collaborative learning experience drawing on scholarship and practice. Together we will identify, analyse and interrogate tools and resources for religiously-informed climate advocacy and action. The 5-day schedule combines lectures, workshops, case studies, field trips and networking opportunities.

Themes: what we will cover

In partnership between academics and practitioners, we will explore: 

Eco-theologies 

How human, nature and divine are connected in different beliefs—and consequences of these connections.  Here we will consider perspectives from a range of religions and systems of belief, including traditions with worldwide influence and localised practices. 

Vulnerability and resilience

How religious communities are coping with environmental challenges and risks.  Researchers will share case studies from communities already experiencing harsh conditions as a result of climate change, in Africa and the Middle East. We will also consider how European actors are seeking to prepare for foreseeable futures. 

Social movement and adaptation

How faith may (or may not) drive eco-friendly behaviour. Bringing together insights from political psychology with research into activist movements, we will think about the most promising and inviting paths for action and how these speak to religious imaginations (and vice versa).

Economic & ecological systems

How green and faith-based economics interact with sustainability. Mining scriptures and religious teachings in participatory dialogue, we will consider when and how faith-based perspectives have offered and offer different approaches to economics, and how these may speak to 21st-century climates. We aim to hear about climate justice and other transformational endeavours. 

The learning process: what to expect

The Religion and Climate Futures Academic Summer School foregrounds the experience, imagination & activity of faith communities in climate-related discourses and processes. In addition to opening up new knowledge and theoretical insights, the curriculum is designed to incorporate varied approaches that may help participants create similar conversations and engagement after the Summer School concludes. 

There will be some conventional learning and teaching (lectures, seminars). There will also be storytelling, interactive sessions, and plentiful opportunities for conversation. Additionally, we will arrange one-to-one and peer-to-peer mentoring to support project-based work, ahead of the final day’s presentations.

Co-productive and skills-oriented

Our time together will involve thinking and doing. Convenors will draw on academic research and practitioner wisdom, encouraging participants to share their own experience and expertise in a co-productive environment. Activities will introduce innovative tools and strategies to bring religion and climate into productive dialogue. 

Beyond the seminar room

We will take a tour of Europe’s first Eco-Mosque and experience Scriptural Reasoning, try ethnography on a riverside field trip, and (optionally) chat with filmmakers and other creatives aiming to influence public behaviour through imaginative engagement. The itinerary includes time for impromptu exchange among participants and with daily guest speakers, while enabling those with domestic responsibilities to fit key learning into commuter-friendly core hours (10—4pm, daily). 

Preparation and networking

Key readings and materials (video, podcasts, etc.) will be circulated ahead of time. We will also coordinate online programming to facilitate ongoing engagement with the themes and one another. 

Suitability: Is this for you?

The Religion and Climate Futures Academic Summer School is suitable for a wide range of participants. We aim to recruit people from a mix of religious, professional, and academic backgrounds.

The curriculum will be directly relevant to:

  • climate professionals seeking to work or engage with religious stakeholders;
  • religious leaders and activists keen to identify fruitful initiatives and opportunities; and
  • students and recent graduates wanting to deepen their academic understanding of the intersection between religion and climate change. 

Requirements

We take an inclusive approach and there are no set qualifications required to participate in this Summer School. Participants will need a strong understanding of written and spoken English, and we may ask for evidence of this in your application.

Places are limited. In the selection process, we will be looking for evidence of a genuine interest in the subject matter plus a commitment to apply your learning in a professional, community, or personal context. We recognise that some applicants will have stronger ideas about what this might mean in practice. When the application process opens, we will provide some guidance on this.

This is a fee-based programme. However, thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Templeton Religion Trust, we will be offering bursaries to cover a proportion of fees for those who demonstrate a genuine need. More information on this will be provided.

Outcomes

Our aim is that by the end of the Summer School, participants will be equipped to:

  • Critically evaluate how religious imaginations and the activities of faith communities are shaping and shaped by environmental politics;
  • Select and apply tools and strategies to engage religious literacies and enhance attention to religion in climate-oriented discourse;
  • Devise realistic responses to challenges faced in different professional, academic and personal contexts.

On the final day, participants will focus on devising practical solutions to chosen challenges, with mentor and peer support. In the closing session, you will share this work with an invited stakeholder audience—for feedback and encouragement. Our goal is that no one leaves without a plan—whether for a personal endeavour, or a collective commitment.

Participants will receive a certificate of attendance upon completion.

There is no credit available for the Academic Summer School. However, participants may request a letter of reference that can be shared with your employer and/or place of study.

About the convenors: LSE & CIP

The Religion and Climate Futures Summer School is a joint initiative:  

The London School of Economics & Political Science:
Religion and Global Society research unit

The Religion and Global Society (RGS) research unit at the LSE Faith Centre conducts, coordinates and promotes religion-related social science research. RGS’s Global Religious Pluralities project (funded by the Templeton Religion Trust) seeks to produce new paradigms of thinking and engagement at the intersection of religion and critical global challenges.

Learn more about RGS (via www.lse.ac.uk/rgs). 

The University of Cambridge:
Cambridge Interfaith Programme

The Cambridge Interfaith Programme is a research catalyst at the University of Cambridge. Established in 2002 to advance understanding between the so-called Abrahamic religions, CIP now provides a meeting point for researchers of religion in all disciplines and those who seek their know-how. The Summer School is part of CIP’s Religion and Global Challenges Initiative

As experts in religious studies, the convenors welcome contributions from other fields and perspectives. 

How do I apply?

The application process will open in March 2024 and full information will be provided at that point. The convenors also plan to host an online information session in May 2024. 

Request an email notification when the application process opens (via Microsoft Forms).

Practicalities

Venue

The main place of study will be the Faculty of Divinity, West Road, Cambridge. This is wheelchair accessible.

Field trips will be mostly undertaken on foot (weather-permitting). We are completing accessibility assessments for routes and venues and will take into account any advance information about individual needs.

Schedule

Core learning will take place between 10am and 4pm each day, with the final session (5 July) ending by 6pm.

There will be a range of optional add-on activities in the late afternoon and/or evening.

What is included?

In addition to tuition and mentoring, participants will also get a daily buffet-style lunch suitable for vegetarians and vegans, and refreshments at breaktimes. Additional dietary requirements will be catered on request.

A limited number of residential places are available, with bed & breakfast-style accommodation at Wolfson College (a 12-minute walk from the Faculty of Divinity). Participants may also organise their own accommodation, and/or commute daily. 

Registration fees 

Detailed fee information will be provided when applications open. (Fees will become payable when places are offered. No payment is necessary at the time of application.)

The Summer School is open to international participants. The University of Cambridge will provide support with visa applications if necessary (subject to the offer of a place).

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