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Professor Receives Grant to Explore Faith-Based Environmental Activism

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Mark Clatterbuck with Swami Dayananda
Yogaville, Virginia: Mark Clatterbuck talks with Swami Dayananda, a leader of the grassroots opposition to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in Virginia. [Photo credit: Dave Parry]

Mark Clatterbuck, Associate Professor of Religion, was recently awarded a $30,000 Project Grant for Researchers through the Louisville Institute. The grant will support Clatterbuck’s book project exploring faith-based environmental activism taking place across the United States today.

At the grassroots level, US religious communities are increasingly taking their climate convictions to the streets. From prayer-vigil blockades to hymn-sings in front of bulldozers, people of faith are employing religiously inspired acts of civil disobedience to confront the devastating machinery of environmental exploitation. In many cases, Christian eco-defenders are organizing alongside non-Christian and indigenous allies who’ve long been working on the frontlines of climate justice in America.

These grassroots, religious efforts to protect the Earth are at the heart of Clatterbuck’s research. He plans to conduct fieldwork in close collaboration with faith leaders from six selected movements that span diverse religious traditions and geographical regions. They include Roman Catholic nuns fighting a gas pipeline in Pennsylvania, indigenous elders protecting a sacred mountain in Hawai’i, and African American Baptists partnering with Hindu yogis to stop construction of a gas-powered compressor station in Virginia.

A book featuring these case studies, supplemented by an open-access website for classroom use, will be the primary forms of dissemination for this research.