Nature in the balance: can we put a value on the environment, and should we?
What is the value of non-human nature? Does it only have value if it is useful to humans? In the early 2000s the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment popularized a concept known as Ecosystem Services, defined as ‘the benefits people obtain from ecosystems’. Four categories of services were included: supporting; provisioning; regulating; and cultural. The Ecosystem Services framework has become the dominant thinking in nature conservation, but is highly anthropocentric, focusing on value to humans. Moreover, it encourages attempts to put monetary value on various aspects of the environment, to incentivise conservation.
But are there other ways to protect nature? Does our environment have intrinsic value, and how is it valuable to God? In this conference we investigate different views on valuing nature. We will begin by carefully explaining the Ecosystem Services concept. We will then explore the theological and ethical implications of this idea, and whether other frameworks might be preferable. In our seminars we will explore some of the practical outworking of environmental ethics and theology in more detail. This conference will be of interest to Christians and others who have an interest in nature conservation and the environment. It is intended to deepen our thinking as we respond to the present environmental crisis.
Dr. Darren Evans “Ecosystem Services: managing nature for human benefit.”
Prof. Richard Bauckham “Why do other creatures matter?”
Rev. Dave Bookless “Biblical Wisdom for Nature Conservation.”
Dr. Eline van Asperen, Dr. Richard Gunton "Beyond ecosystem services: A framework for valuing the invaluable."
Rev. George Otieno, Prof. Andrew Basden "Greening our theology - in church and at home."
Dr. Deepa Senapathi, Dr. Martin Kaonga "Ecosystem functions, reflecting on the vision of Psalm 104."
Dr. Yoseph Araya, Dr. David Hanson "Discussing motives for conservation with our neighbours."
Dr. Sam Ewell "Overhearing the Gospel according to permaculture: a modest proposal for finding our place in God's good world"
Biographies of Speakers and Seminar Givers
Dr. Darren Evans is a Reader in Ecology and Conservation at Newcastle University. His research focusses on the impacts of environmental change on complex species-interactions (ecological networks) and ecosystem functioning. He is currently studying the consequences of altered network structure on fungi, plant and animal populations, mainly within forests and agro-ecosystems. He is a Senior Editor of the journal Animal Conservation, a Council member of the British Ornithologists’ Union, Vice-chair of the British Ecological Society’s Policy Committee and a member of A Rocha International’s Conservation Science Advisory Council.
Prof. Richard Bauckham is a biblical scholar and theologian. Until 2007 he was Professor of New Testament Studies at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. Since then he has been living in Cambridge, engaged in research and writing. His books include Jesus and the Eyewitnesses (2006), God Crucified (1998), The Theology of the Book of Revelation (1993), Bible and Ecology (2010), Living with Other Creatures (2011) and The Bible in the Contemporary World (2015).
Rev. Dave Bookless is Director of Theology for A Rocha International, a CMS Mission-Partner and a member of the Church of England’s Environment Working Group. He writes, blogs and speaks widely on the bible and creation and is completing a Cambridge PhD on the value of non-human creatures.
Dr. Yoseph Araya is a plant ecologist and academic at The Open University, UK. Yoseph is keen about communicating science to the public as well as the role of citizen scientists in research and practical action. He is enthusiastic about the positive role faith-based communities contribute towards addressing local and global challenges of the environment. Twitter: @YNAraya
Prof. Andrew Basden is Professor of human factors and philosophy in information systems in the Salford University Business School. A longstanding member of the Green Party, he has supervised PhD students from many countries and published numerous papers, books and book chapters on subjects ranging from environmental sustainability to procrastination. www.kgsvr.net/
Dr. Sam Ewell is an MA Tutor at ForMission College. He is a U.S. national and permanent resident of Brazil, where he lived from 2003-2010 with his wife and three children. Since 2010, the Ewells have resided in Birmingham, where he completed his doctoral research on Christian mission from the perspective of Ivan Illich. Sam’s teaching role in the ForMission MA flows out of his role as a community minister with the Newbigin House based in the Winson Green parish, where he combines community ministry with regenerative urban agriculture to cultivate discipleship, community resilience, and neighbourhood transformation.
Dr. Richard Gunton is a researcher in ecology and nature conservation at the University of Leeds and a participant in a project on philosophical implications of holistic biology. He has undertaken research in forest, savanna and arable ecology in South Africa, Australia and France. He is coordinator of a student-focused initiative called Church Scientific Leeds as well as the Faith-in-Scholarship working group on ecosystem services. www.linkedin.com/in/richardgunton
Dr David Hanson is the Secretary of the Trustees of Thinking Faith Network and formerly General Secretary of the International Association for Reformed Faith and Action. His work as a consultant surgeon included senior lectureship at the University of Leeds.
Dr. Martin Kaonga is the Director of the Cambridge Centre for Environment and its Principal Consultant in environment and sustainable development. He has 32 years of experience working in Africa, Asia-Pacific and America, focusing on biodiversity, biogeochemical cycles, sustainable land use and environmental accounting. He is interested in faith - science issues. Martin previously held senior teaching, consulting and management positions in several organizations including the University of Zambia and the United Nations. www.cc-e.org/our-expertise/
Rev. George Otieno is an Anglican priest from Tanzania who has studied the impacts of mining on human well-being as part of a concern about ecological degradation. He has taught Christian ecology at Msalato theological college of St John's University, Tanzania and is particularly interested in anthropology, ecological justice and local wisdom. He is currently studying for a PhD at Leeds Trinity University, looking at religion, mission and ecology.
Dr. Deepa Senapathi is an ecologist and former knowledge-exchange fellow at the University of Reading with a keen interest in the impacts of environmental change. She has worked on assessing impacts of climate change and land-use change on species of extreme conservation concern in India, Mauritius and the UK. She has appeared on BBC Horizon and on ITV news speaking about how environmental change exacerbates declines in pollinator species impacting crop production and food security. Twitter: @deepasena
Dr. Eline van Asperen is a postdoctoral researcher in palaeoecology with Durham University and Liverpool John Moores University. She studies the interactions between animals, plants and fungi during the climatic fluctuations of the ice ages. She is also a Faith-in- Scholarship Fellow, supporting Christian postgraduate students in thinking through the role of their faith in their academic studies, and is involved in the FISWES project. www.thinkfaith.net/fisch/fellows
The John Ray Initiative (JRI) is an educational charity with a vision to bring together scientific and Christian understandings of the environment in a way that can be widely communicated and lead to effective action.
ForMission Events are also sponsors of this conference.
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Trains can be caught from Birmingham New Street to Longbridge train station which is situated on the same road as the College
Some trains (e.g. the Cardiff to Nottingham line) stop at University station, and you may find it easier changing there than at New Street if you have that option.
If you are driving, please do see the map on this page to gain directions. There is parking on site at the cost of £3 for the day.