TFF4390 – Religion and Ecology

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Course content

What is the relationship between religion and nature? What are the various ways in which religions have responded to the environmental crisis? What are the particular symbolic, mythic, ritual and ethical resources employed in our contemporary age (the age of the anthropocene) to develop ecological theologies (ecotheologies) and philosophies? Which critical potential does theology offer in relation to apocalyptic scenarios and religious activism? To what extent are ontological, ethical, and epistemological issues affected by ecological issues? And, finally, why should we care? 

In this course we explore the intersections and entanglements of religion and ecology and invite students to critically reflect upon the ways in which notions of being and becoming (broadly conceptualized) are informed by religious beliefs, ethics and practices, whilst also depending on ecological contexts (local and global) wherein environmental degradation manifests in multiple ways. In addition to focusing on religious worldviews and practices, we explore the philosophical perspective of deep ecology and investigate the ways in which this eco-centric paradigm has been taken up by religious and activist groups. Finally, the course discusses liturgical and spiritual responses to the ecological crisis (such as pilgrimage) and the emergence of ecological movements that have responded by means of engaging in forms of ritualized activism to bring about global transformation.

Learning outcome

• To develop students’ critical understanding of the role and relevance of religion in contemporary society 
• To provide students with an in-depth understanding of the relationship between religion and ecology 
• To provide students with the skills to engage critically and constructively in normative controversies from philosophical and theological perspectives
• To provide students with a thorough theoretical and methodological framework for analyzing the relationship between religion and ecology 
• To provide students with the ability to critically engage the various ways in which environmental challenges is a religious issue 
• To provide students with the competence to make a unique contribution to the field of religion and ecology


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

Students enrolled in other Master's Degree Programmes can, on application, be admitted to the course if this is cleared by their own study programme.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.


The classes are seminars and active participation is expected. The seminar consists of a total of thirty-two hours. These are divided into eight seminar sessions of four hours each during the course of the semester. During the four hour seminar there will be given short lectures to introduce new themes/subthemes and short student presentations of relevant texts. Priority is given to discussion, application and reflection exercises in relation to primary themes.

Mandatory requirements:
• For each seminar, each student is to prepare a 1 page reflection note engaging the primary theme for the seminar. A total of six reflection notes during the course of the semester.
• Presentation of research paper outline.


The portfolio should contain the following:
1. Reflection essay: Select one of the primary themes we have engaged with in our seminars and write a reflection essay 2000-2500 words.
2. Research paper 5000 Words.

Submit assignments in Inspera

You submit your assignment in the digital examination system Inspera. Read about how to submit your assignment.

Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

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Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.

Facts about this course






Autumn 2019


Autumn 2019

Teaching language