IVM and the Faculty of Religion and Theology announce 2018 Senior Fellow in Ethics of the Anthropocene

Professor Ernst M. Conradie from the University of the Western Cape in South Africa has been appointed as Senior Fellow in the Ethics of the Anthropocene Program for 2018.

01/18/2018 | 12:22 PM

His term at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam will run for two periods in May and June 2018 and November 2018 to January 2019. The Ethics of the Anthropocene Fellowship is a collaborative initiative of the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM) and the Faculty of Theology. It is intended to foster research projects at the interface of ethics, religion and global environmental change. Annual fellowships are awarded alternately to an established Senior scholar and to two or three promising PhD-Candidates who are in the process of specializing in this burgeoning field.

Ernst M. Conradie is Senior Professor in the Department of Religion and Theology at the University of the Western Cape where he teaches systematic theology and ethics. His most recent monographs are The Earth in God’s Economy: Creation, Salvation and Consum¬mation in Eco¬logical Perspective (LIT Verlag, 2015) and Redeeming Sin? Social Diagnostics amid Ecological Destruction (Lexington Books, 2017).

He has read numerous papers at national and international conferences and obtained scholarships and invitations for periods of research in various places throughout the US, the UK and the European continent. He has registered several major collaborative research projects, including ones on Christianity and Ecological theology (1995-2005, 2006-), Ecology and Eschatology (1996-2000), Anthropology and ecology (2000-2005), The Earth in God’s Economy (2006-2014), Ecumenical Studies and Social Ethics (2012-2015), Redeeming Sin: Hamartiology, Ecology and Social Diagnostics (2014-), and Food Contestation (2015-).

Conradie was the convener of the steering committee for an international research project entitled “Christian Faith and the Earth” (2007-2013). He is a co-editor of the journal Scriptura and the secretary of the editorial board of the series Studies in Ethics and Theology (published by Bible Media). He is the current Chairperson of the Theological Society of South Africa. In 2015 he was elected as a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa.

He has been awarded the Andrew Murray prize for theological publications in Afrikaans twice, namely for Waar op dees aarde vind mens God? (awarded in 2007) and for Lewend en Kragtig? In gesprek oor God se handelinge (awarded in 2013). He obtained the UWC Vice-Chancellor’s Distinguished Award for Research in the Human and Social Sciences in 2012 and holds a prestigious rating as “Internationally acclaimed researcher” (B1) from the National Research Foundation (2012). His publications, including more than 150 refereed articles and essays in edited volumes, are mostly in the intersection between ecological theology, systematic theology and ecumenical theology.

About the Fellowship
The novel concept of an ‘Anthropocene’ has been proposed to denote the present epoch in planetary history, following up the earlier Holocene, as a new geological era now largely defined by the extent and direction of human activities with a profound global impact on the earth’s ecosystems. Importantly, the concept of an ‘Anthropocene’ places humankind fully at the centre of planetary evolution, as the main driving force on planet earth. These conceptual developments, however, raise fundamental normative questions with profound relevance for religion and ethics and for the principles that will guide the governance of the earth system. To study these important questions, VU Amsterdam has installed a special program for senior and junior researchers, the VU Fellowship in the Ethics of the Anthropocene. 

About this Year’s Project
Professor Conradie’s project is entitled “Whose Anthropocene – What Diagnosis?”. He observes that there is something odd about the recent interest in the Anthropocene. Many would suggest that it demon¬strates the ecological impact of anthropocentrism as an ideological disposition that has become predomi¬nant at least since the rise of modernity and is epitomized by industrialized capitalism. Yet, the very term also seems to express such anthropocentrism: the human species is able to influence even geological systems. Moreover, discourse on the Anthropocene, also in the humanities, is heavily dominated by scholars from the global North. This raises the question what concerns and interests are at stake here? Whose Anthropo¬cene is it really? More specifically, what diagnosis of what is wrong in the world is assumed in discourse on the Anthropocene in the fields of philosophy, ethics, religious studies and theology? Is the problem really anthropocentrism – or perhaps consumerist greed, domination in the name of difference, alienation, folly or simply a lack of responsibility (sloth)? These questions will be explored with reference to a notion of Christian sin-talk as a form of social diagnostics.