ENBELREL - Environment and Beliefs in Law and Religion

A cross-disciplinary project to connect research and teaching on environmental topics in departments of law and religion. Its goal is to amplify and connect discrete efforts across disciplines and geographical borders and create new networks for students across international institutions.

The participating partners are the Cadbury Centre for the Public Understanding of Religion (Birmingham), Environmental Law Center (Cologne), and SAGAS (Department of History, Archaeology, Geography, Art and Performance, Florence). Each partner will host a one-day symposium on environment and beliefs in law and religion.

Purpose and Significance

Research into environmental action intersects with research into beliefs and religious life at every level: global trans-national institutions, the state, cities, and local communities including universities. This religion-environment nexus plays out in different ways: it concerns local possibilities for mobilising action; it concerns religious groups who attempt to embody alternative social patterns (especially in relation to the environment); it concerns how citizens often base their decisions on beliefs more than on scientific data; and, crucially, it concerns how students articulate environmental concerns and engage them in relation to their university affiliations. We propose to investigate and compare three contrasting contexts in which beliefs and environment are researched: England, Germany, and Italy, and more specifically the EUniWell partners Birmingham, Cologne, Florence. We will address three guiding questions:

  1. How is the nexus of beliefs and environment institutionally conceived and researched in our three EUniWell locations?
  2. How, in particular, do students articulate and engage environmental concerns as members of their universities?
  3. What concrete steps can be taken to amplify and promote EUniWell partners’ research and foster collaboration between students in our universities?

This project aligns closely with the EUniwell overall objective to deliver “an integrated system-thinking approach to deliver a meaningful and sustainable step-change to the well-being of our institutions, staff, students and societies”.

Implementation Method and Timeline

We will hold three one-day symposia: in Birmingham, in Cologne, and in Florence. These symposia will gather local experts, researchers, and students across different disciplines, whose focus of study is the environment. The first event, in Birmingham, will be held in May 2022, with subsequent events in Cologne and Florence held in the Autumn of 2022 and the Spring of 2023.

Expected Outcomes

The three symposia will connect the disparate research and teaching portfolios of three leading European universities, to enable organisational transformation in Birmingham, Cologne, and Florence. As well as connecting the three institutions, they will more effectively connect the three institutions internally: research into the environment is often distributed across different disciplines, with research being presented at different conferences in-country and internationally. This project will form the basis for a more ambitious piece of cross-university research on environmental issues, to include other members of the EUniWell consortium.