"Care for the soil and the soul needs to be extended to include care for society." Satish Kumar
The significant problems we face cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them. -Albert Einstein
"What we most need to do is to hear within us the sounds of the Earth crying." Thich Nhat Hanh
"Creation is the primary and most perfect revelation of the Divine." Thomas Aquinas
"The Earth is alive, we live in and through her, and as we are in her keeping, so is she in ours." Pir Zia Inayat Khan
"The greening of the self involves a combining of the mystical with the pragmatic, transcending separateness, alienation, and fragmentation." Joanna Macy

Science, Ecology and Faith Speaker Series

Hosted by ICEC, and sponsored by the Temple of Understanding, these speaker or panel events will be held monthly in partnership with other NGOs and UN Agencies. The focus is broadly on climate change and sustainable development and the important role of the interfaith community as a catalyst for change. Unless otherwise noted, these events are held at The Church Center for the United Nations, 10th Floor, 777 UN Plaza / 777 First Avenue at 44th Street, New York, NY 10017.  RSVPS are welcome to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


This spring series is co-sponsored by the United Nations Committee of Religious NGOs and the CoNGO Committee on Sustainable Development.

Upcoming Speakers:

April 18, 2013 -  1:30- 3:30

A session with Ian Dunlop and Tapio Kanninen, Global Survivability:  The Need for Drastic Environmental Action

Ian Dunlop, Australian Energy Expert, is a Centre for Policy Development Fellow and a contributing author to their recent publication, More than Luck: Ideas Australia Needs Now. He was formerly a senior international oil, gas and coal industry executive, with over 30 years as an engineer and senior executive at Royal Dutch Shell Group. He chaired the Australian Coal Association in 1987-88, chaired the Australian Greenhouse Office Experts Group on Emissions Trading from 1998-2000 and was CEO of the Australian Institute of Company Directors from 1997-2000. He is Chairman of Safe Climate Australia, Deputy Convenor of the Australian Association for the Study of Peak Oil and a Member of the Club of Rome.

Tapio Kanninen, the author of Crisis of Global Sustainability (2013), is Senior Fellow and Co-Director of the Project on Sustainable Global Governance , at the Graduate Center of The City University of New York. He was Chief of the Policy Planning Unit in the UN Dept of Political Affairs (1998-2005) and Head of the Secretariat of Kofi Annan’s five Summits with Regional Organizations.

May 1, 2013 - 1:00- 2:30

Trebbe Johnson, Aphrodite at the Landfill

Aphrodite at the Landfill is a rousing call to readers to turn their attention to the kinds of places most people would rather forget: the clearcut forests, paved wetlands, fracked farms, and polluted rivers that once were beautiful and meaningful and now are under assault. Yet when the places we love are damaged, we humans hurt too. And it is by reconciling with the wounded places in our midst in bold, creative ways that we forge a new definition of activism. Part I, “The Environment Isn’t Here Yet,” explores five subtle cultural assumptions about how we ought to react to a broken, toxic, or ugly environment and why these concepts get in the way of our living the “sustainable” life on Earth that we all supposedly aspire to. Part II, “Beauty as Earth Activism,” unveils attitudes and practices that shift thinking and remake traditional environmentalism into a new field where existential action, play, spectacle, and the church social meet.

Trebbe Johnson is the author of The World Is a Waiting Lover (2005, with a foreword by Thomas Moore) and has published many articles and essays about the relationship between people and their places in Sierra, Orion, Spirituality and Health, The Nation, and other magazines. She is a consulting editor and frequent contributor to Parabola. Trebbe is the founder and director of Radical Joy for Hard Times, a non-profit organization devoted to finding and making beauty in wounded places.

Past Events:

Dr. Chung Hyun Kyung, Eco-feminism and Earth Spiritualities
April 10, 2013 -  1:00 - 2:30

Professor Chung Hyun Kyung, Associate Professor of Ecumenical Studies at Union Theological Seminary, is a lay theologian of the Presbyterian Church of Korea, and a dharma teacher at the Kwan Eum Zen School in New York City. She defines herself as a “salimist” (Korean Eco-feminist) from the Korean word “salim,” which means “making things alive.” In this talk, she will discuss theological resources for ecological transformation from multi ple perspectives. Professor Chung's teaching and research interests include feminist and eco-feminist theologies and spiritualities from Asia, Africa and Latin America; Christian-Buddhist dialogue; Zen meditation; approaches to disease and healing in varied religious backgrounds; mysticism and revolutionary social change; Goddesses and women’s liberation in Asia; interfaith peacemaking and more. Her theology synthesizes the wisdom of the worldwide people’s movements, spiritual legacies of Asian religious traditions, critical academic analysis, and the world of the arts.

Piper Dumont, Director of The Edible Churchyard at Union Theological Seminary Edible Churchyards: Faith Communities and Urban Food Justice
February 20, 2013


The Edible Churchyard is Union Theological Seminary’s initiative to re-imagine churchyards and rooftops as gardens to revitalize communities, reclaim food-based knowledge, and nourish the land a nd our bodies. It connects environmental concerns with Union’s legac y of community justice and leadership development. http://www.ediblechurchyard.org/


Director Piper Dumont will discuss the ongoing development of the Edible Churchyard, including interfaith collaborations in the Harlem neighborhood. Piper is an educator and agrarian who cultivates connections with land and people. Her doctoral work at Columbia University analyzes food education through families, communities, and popular culture. She is part of a movement developing models of community-based ecological and food justice as they convert the built environment into growing spaces.


Simon Cohen, Founder of Global Tolerance: Communications with Conscience To Survive or Thrive? The Future of Environmental PR and Communications
January 30, 2013

Global Tolerance (www.globaltolerance.com) is a leading international communications agency that only works with people committed to positive social change. Founder and Managing Director Simon Cohen will offer insights into the role of PR and media communications in social change efforts, particularly concerning the environmental crisis. Global Tolerance has worked extensively fostering interfaith understanding, and only does “communications with conscience.” He will address questions such as:

• What are the prevailing models for communicating the environmental crisis and are they working? Is the concept of crisis even helpful?

• What are the roles of media and PR in avoiding or addressing the environmental crisis?

• What unique roles do faith and interfaith communities have?

• What new communication models are needed for promoting environmental change?

• What media strategies are there for promoting public awareness, including obstacles and potential tipping points?

Dharma Talk by Korean Buddhist Seon Master Jinje
World Peace and the Ecological Crisis: A Buddhist Wisdom
Response by the Reverend Fletcher Harper
October 4, 2012

Seon Master Jinje, Supreme Patriarch of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, will speak on "World Peace and the Ecological Crisis: A Buddhist Wisdom," with a response by the Reverend Fletcher Harper, Executive Director of GreenFaith. A light lunch will be provided. The program is co-sponsored by The Interfaith Center of New York and the Temple of Understanding. It is part of the ongoing programs of the Interfaith Consortium for an Ecological Civilization, coordinated by the Temple of Understanding.

Master Jinje Sunim was born in 1934 and entered monastic life at the age of nineteen. He received Dharma transmission from Master Haynggok in 1967. In 2011 he was appointed the Supreme Patriarch of the Jogye Order, Korea's largest Buddhist group and part of the tradition centering on meditation known as Ganhwa Seon in Korea, Ch'an in China and Zen in Japan and the West.

The Reverend Fletcher Harper is an Episcopal priest and the Executive Director of GreenFaith. He is an award-winning spiritual writer and nationally recognized preacher on the environment.

Chris Philpott , Speaker, Educator, Activist and Author
Green Spirituality
September 10, 2012

The Temple of Understanding, in conjunction with the NY Office of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), are sponsoring this event. Chris Philpott’s involvement as educator activist in the green movement goes back 30 years. He is a campaign organizer, a participant in local and national environmental issues as wide ranging as climate change and recycling, as well as an initiator in biodiversity projects with children, local grow-your-own, local exchange trading or LETS, the local Transition Town as well as meditation, inter-faith and green spirituality groups. Research for his book Green Spirituality (http://www.greenspirituality.org/) took 13 years and included visits to the UN’s World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg and a countrywide tour of India where he spent time with 130 spiritual leaders from Hindu, Jain, Sikh, Muslim, Christian and Buddhist traditions whose wise words are woven throughout the book.