- I am proposing to research religion and conflict resolution, specifically environmental conflict
- Because I want to find out what explains the intersection of religion and environmental conflict and its contribution to the international discussion, while analyzing the effects, both positive, negative, or neutral, of the contribution
- In order to help my reader understand whether/ why/ how religious can be a beneficial contributor to the current conversation involving environmental conflict.
Current conversation surrounding climate change and other environmental issues are in the forefront in the international community. The conflicts emerging as a result of environmental have added another layer to the already complex situation of environmental problems. The building urgency to act upon the degradation of the environmental both for intrinsic and instrumental value has forced international politics to convene. While much action is occurring between international organizations and governments there is question if religious communities and leaders also have a place in the conversation. Can the intersection between religion and environment lead to beneficial contribution?
Many religious leaders have spoken out about the importance of the environmental and the protection of it. For example, Pope Francis, the leading voice of the Catholic stance on the environment, wrote the “Encyclical Letter of the Holy Father on Care for Our Common Home”, which discusses the Catholic reasoning behind the protecting the environment. He expands the effects of environmental to include the “decline in the quality of human life and the breakdown in society” and issues like “global inequality.” Pope Francis advocates especially for grassroots methods of action stating that “existing world order process powerless to assume its responsibilities, local individuals and groups can make a real difference.” The Catholic voice of environmental issues is just one example of the many religious communities that are also conversing, yet these perspective are oftentimes less seen or considered in the international community. This creates an interesting question of whether or not religion should have a voice in the discussion of action to combat the effects of things like climate change and pollution and questions what the implications of such collaboration would be.
Even outside organizations are debating and learning the implications of both ignoring and including religious thought in environmental discussion. The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, a non-profit media organization, held the 2019 Conference: Beyond Religion and specifically had a panel called “Religion and the Environment” where they question “the potential for interfaith collaboration in the protection of our planet?” The importance of the interfaith perspective on this conflict is regarded as important by many, but could it also create a new understanding that had not be previously considered.
Previous cases of the successful intersection between religious beliefs and conflict resolution in environmental conflict have occurred and explain the relevance of the topic. For example, in a study called “The Defense of Maiquillahue Bay: Knowledge, Faith, and Identity in an Environmental Conflict” describes the example in 1998 of the prevention of the construction of a pipeline that would have severely polluted the region. With the support of the people, through discussions surrounding the impact of culture, religion, and science that the pipeline would have, the community was able to stop the creation of it. Another study considers the potential that incorporating sulha, an Arab conflict resolution process, would have regard environmental conflict. The study argues that creating a new perspective with the integration of both sustainable ideas and process with sulha would produce more effective results because it accounts for both religious and cultural aspects. Both articles consider the beneficial contribution of religion.
This research is not only timely because of current international politics urging governments to take action to combat the effects of climate change, which disproportionately affect developing countries, but it also calls into question the effectiveness of adding a new perspective of religion. Religious dialogue could possibly provide ideas and reasoning that secular institutions and organizations are unable to provide. There is question here if the current conversation about environmental conflict is lacking in the areas of religious and cultural considerations that have the potential change the approach to working toward solutions.
Possible research questions:
- What explains the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of religious dialogue in regard to environmental conflict?
- What explains the dynamic between the religion of indigenous groups in Bolivia and environmental conflict?
 “Laudato Si’ (24 May 2015) | Francis.” n.d. <http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html> (Accessed September 29, 2019).
 Ibid, 31, 33.
 Ibid, 131.
 “2019 Conference: Beyond Religion.” 2019. Pulitzer Center. March 8, 2019. https://pulitzercenter.org/2019-conference-beyond-religion (Accessed September 28, 2019).
 Skewes, Juan Carlos, and Debbie Guerra. “The Defense of Maiquillahue Bay: Knowledge, Faith, and Identity in an Environmental Conflict1.” Ethnology 43, no. 3 (Summer 2004): 217.
 Tarabeih, Hussein, Deborah Shmueli, and Rassem Khamaisi. “Towards the Implementation of sulha as a cultural peacemaking method for managing and resolving environmental conflicts among Arab Palestinians in Israel.” Journal of Peacebuilding & Development 5, no. 1 (2009): 50.
“Laudato Si’ (24 May 2015) | Francis.” n.d. Accessed September 29, 2019. http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html.
Tarabeih, Hussein, Deborah Shmueli, and Rassem Khamaisi. “Towards the Implementation of sulha as a cultural peacemaking method for managing and resolving environmental conflicts among Arab Palestinians in Israel.” Journal of Peacebuilding & Development 5, no. 1 (2009): 50-64.
Skewes, Juan Carlos, and Debbie Guerra. “The Defense of Maiquillahue Bay: Knowledge, Faith, and Identity in an Environmental Conflict1.” Ethnology 43, no. 3 (Summer 2004): 217– 31. doi:10.2307/3774063.
“2019 Conference: Beyond Religion.” 2019. Pulitzer Center. March 8, 2019. https://pulitzercenter.org/2019-conference-beyond-religion.