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Religion and social values for sustainability

Ives, Christopher D.; Kidwell, Jeremy


Assistant Professor

Jeremy Kidwell


Discourse on social values as they relate to environmental and sustainability issues has almost exclusively been conducted in a secular intellectual context. However, with a renewed emphasis on culture as defining and shaping links between people and nature, there has been an increasing level of scholarly attention to the role of religion and spirituality in defining and understanding social values. In this article we explore the intersection of religion and social values for sustainability. First, we consider this nexus as it has been explored in existing scholarship. We acknowledge a body of research that has suggested that many religions are broadly associated with self-transcendent values. However, the degree to which they are translated into pro-environmental attitudes and behaviour varies according to context. Second, we argue that while there is much potential support for human values for sustainability within religious traditions, it is essential that religion is seen as a complex, multi-scalar and multi-dimensional institutional phenomena. Consequently, analysis of the relationship between religion and social values must account for the context of narratives, histories and practices. Third, using this lens, we show how religious perspectives can contribute to operationalising theories of systemic change for sustainability. Finally, we outline key principles for further sustainability research seeking to advance knowledge on the relationship between religion and social values.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2019-09
Journal Sustainability Science
Print ISSN 1862-4065
Electronic ISSN 1862-4057
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 14
Issue 5
Pages 1355-1362
APA6 Citation Ives, C. D., & Kidwell, J. (2019). Religion and social values for sustainability. Sustainability Science, 14(5), 1355-1362.
Keywords Religion; Values; Narratives; Practices; Worldviews; Sustainability transformation
Publisher URL
Additional Information Received: 3 August 2018; Accepted: 11 January 2019; First Online: 19 February 2019


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