Conservation, Restoration, and Sustainability: A Call to Stewardship

This is the title of an upcoming symposium on November 8-10, free and open to the public at the Hinckley Center on campus at Brigham Young University. This symposium is devoted to exploring the interdisciplinary dimensions of environmental stewardship in literature and the arts, law, philosophy, science, and religion. We feature papers that critique, develop, and enhance conceptions of stewardship that are grounded in current scientific and cultural understanding of environmental problems. We will hear explorations of such problems as climate change, species extinction, human/animal relationships, food production, land and water use, air quality, and other environmental and resource problems of national and international consequence. We have called for presentations that also develop the underlying moral, ethical, cultural, or theological dimensions of such problems. In other words, we hope the papers will provide guidelines for solutions and the justifications and methods for motivating conservation, restoration, and the goal of long-term sustainability. The papers also reflect various religious, philosophical, and cultural perspectives. Confirmed keynote speakers include Margaret Palmer (Director of the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center and University of Maryland), Jonathan Foley (Institute on the Environment at the University of the Minnesota), and J. Baird Callicott (University of North Texas and co-editor of the Encyclopedia of Environmental Ethics and Philosophy). This symposium will address questions about:

Stewardship: What are the advantages and limitations of the idea of stewardship? To which texts, stories, cosmologies, and artistic traditions can we turn for inspiration? What are the underlying values and moral limits of environmental laws? What obstacles and opportunities are there for science to interface effectively with religion, public policy, and culture to promote better stewardship?

Conservation: What are the fundamental principles of conservation biology? What are the crises of conservation we face? How can we translate conservation biology and other relevant sciences more effectively into the languages of culture and religion, into human values?

Restoration: What are the challenges of ecological restoration? How do we know when restoration is necessary?  What successes can we point to? With the need of ecological restoration in mind, what kind of economy is a moral and efficacious one? What is religion’s relevance to restoration?

Sustainability: What are the fundamental principles of sustainability? What are the principles of intergenerational as well as intra-generational fairness? How can we meet the needs of present and future populations? What are the limits of resources we face and what role might faith, innovation, or modesty play in living within them?

I will be sure to offer some reflections on the conference. In the meantime, you can find the entire program at:

Review: First Principles and Ordinances: The Fourth Article of Faith in Light of the Temple by Samuel Brown
If Truth Were A Child
Mormonism, Cosmology, and Environmental Stewardship
Experience and Understanding