Lisa Sideris, Indiana University
“Contested Wonder: Environmental Ethics and the New Cosmology”
November 18, Forum Room, 3:30-5 pm
Dr. Sideris will discuss the role of wonder in contemporary environmental discourse, specifically in the New Story/Universe Story/Epic of Evolution/Big History forms of science-based ecospirituality that have emerged in recent decades. She asks if these "new myths" will engender the environmental values and ethics they seek to cultivate.
Dr. Sideris is an Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Director of the Consortium for the Study of Religion, Ethics, and Society at Indiana University. Her research focuses on environmental ethics and on the compatibility and conflict between religious and scientific interpretations of nature and natural processes. Her first book, Environmental Ethics, Ecological Theory, and Natural Selection (Columbia UP, 2003), critiques the tendency of Christian environmental ethics to ignore or distort evolutionary theory and examines the problems this creates in developing a realistic ethic toward nature. Her recent work has looked at the moral and religious dimensions of what Rachel Carson called a “sense of wonder” for nature. In the first strand of this research, she discusses how scientific narratives of nature, especially those concerning evolution, are being “re-enchanted” and recast as mythopoetic stories with moral content. In the second, she examines that way in which scientific and religious perspectives have inspired nature study movements for children from the 19th century to the present. For Dr. Sideris’ webpage, please click here.