Focus Areas

Three connected areas of focus shape CRE’s approach: spirituality of nature, ecotheology, and environmental ethics.

Spirituality of Nature

A spirituality of nature holds that humans can discover a fuller relationship with God and with their true selves in profound contemplative experiences of nature. As priest and environmentalist Thomas Berry writes, “We bear the universe in our beings as the universe bears us in its being. The two have a total presence to each other and to that deeper mystery out of which both the universe and ourselves have emerged” (Berry, The Dream of the Earth, 130). Through cultivated mindful attention to the natural world, human beings can overcome the alienation from nature that is at the root of environmental and social crises.

CRE offerings related to spirituality of nature include our retreat for those wanting to facilitate contemplation of nature groups. Additionally, CRE offers our new Certificate Program in Contemplation and Care for Creation, the courses “God and Nature,” “Poetry, Nature, and Contemplation,” and “Opening the Book of Nature: Creation, Ecology, and Economy,” the “Opening the Book of Creation” and “Beauty by Design” retreats, and CRE’s pilot spiritual growth program, “Living in an Icon, Alive in the World.”


Ecotheology refers to a broad range of theologies that seek to clarify the relationships between God, humanity, and the nonhuman environment. Awareness of the urgency of environmental crises, often heightened by a sense that religion has too often been complicit in these crises, leads a wide variety of theologians to advance theological arguments for the importance of caring for creation. These efforts range from liberation and feminist theologies to agrarianism, Biblical theologies, and process theologies.

CRE offerings related to ecotheology include such courses as “Creation, Evolution, and God,” “Readings in Contemporary Ecotheology,” and “Opening the Book of Nature: Creation, Ecology, and Economy," as well as our Certificate Program in Contemplation and Care for Creation.

Environmental Ethics

The field of environmental ethics brings together philosophical and religious ethical commitments with practical environmental concerns, with careful consideration of the social, political, economic, and ecological implications of different moral responses. Environmental ethics is a broadly interdisciplinary inquiry requiring, in addition to philosophy and theology, attention to environmental sciences, public policy, social sciences, and humanities. Environmental ethics seeks to provide concrete guidance regarding how agents should act in response to environmental crises.

CRE offerings related to environmental ethics include such courses as “Environmental Ethics,” “Climate Ethics,” and “Environmental Policy and Law,” “Opening the Book of Nature: Creation, Ecology, and Economy,” as well as the “Beauty by Design” retreat and our Certificate Program in Contemplation and Care for Creation.