East Asian Religions & Ecology

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  • MODULE 1: Course Introduction
  • MODULE 2: Overview of Contemporary Ecological Issues and Religious Environmentalism
    • This module explores historical and contemporary ecological challenges in China arising from industrialization and modernization. Because of these environmental pressures, various sectors of Chinese society, including the government, are promoting the concept of “ecological civilization”, which we highlight here. We then explore the intersections of religion and ecology and its promises for East Asia.
  • MODULE 3: Introduction and Overview: Confucianism and Ecology
    • We encounter key ideas of Confucianism regarding the interconnection of self, society, education, politics, nature, and the cosmos. We focus on the Analects of Confucius and other significant Confucian texts to explore their ecological dimensions.
  • MODULE 4: Confucianism and Ecology into the Present
    • After a period of suppression during the Cultural Revolution, Confucianism has revived in China and has important cultural and spiritual influences today. This is seen by many Chinese as valuable for grounding humans in communitarian social and ecological ethics for the common good. We conclude this module with an exploration of selected Confucian perspectives on food, animals, and biodiversity.
  • MODULE 5: Introduction and Overview: Daoism and Ecology
    • Daoism is a tradition with a rich sensibility regarding nature and the mutuality of human-Earth relations. We explore the ecological significance of the term Dao, or Way, as well as the idea of detachment and effortless action (wu-wei). We then reflect on Daoist practices that cultivate the inner landscape of the human in relation to the outer landscape of the natural world.
  • MODULE 6: Daoism and Ecology into the Present
    • We explore environmental ideas and practices embedded in schools of Daoism historically and at present. We examine the cultivation of esoteric practices in Daoism related to outer landscapes and the inner organs of the body, as well as contemporary issues of ecology and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).
  • MODULE 7: Buddhism and Ecology: The Interdependence of Reality
    • This module explores the basic teachings of Buddhism and their relevance to the environment. We discuss the life of the Buddha and his key insight regarding the interdependence of all reality. In particular, we explore the ecological significance embedded in the “three refuges” vow: Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. We then trace the spread of Buddhism across Asia and its diverse expressions in art and culture. We conclude with an examination of environmental teachings in various schools of Buddhism throughout East Asia.
  • MODULE 8: East Asian Buddhism: Engaged Ecological Leadership
    • We explore the emergence of the bodhisattva ideal in Mahayana Buddhism of practicing wisdom and compassion for all living beings. We then consider the ecological dimensions of engaged Buddhism within Mahayana and Vajrayana (Tibetan) traditions. Finally, we examine Buddhist teachings on sentient life in relation to food, animals, and biodiversity.
  • MODULE 9: Ecological Rituals in Japanese Shinto and Korean Shamanism
    • We begin with a description of Japanese Shinto teachings and rituals and illustrate their ecological and cosmological dimensions. Next, we examine Korean shamanism as ecstatic ritual practices for restoring well being and health to the human and natural communities. We consider how these primordial religious practices offer rich insights from a living Earth with ongoing relevance to contemporary ecological challenges.
  • MODULE 10: Course Conclusion