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How do religions contribute to a more sustainable world?

3rd theological conversation from the “Glauben und Wissen” series will take place live as part of the Open Humboldt Festival

Climate change and its ecological and social consequences, the exploitation of natural resources, and the extinction of animal and plant species – mankind is responsible for all of this. What significance do religions have in this context? Is the cultural mandate that is found in the Bible, to be fruitful and multiply, to fill and subdue the earth and to exercise dominion over the living creatures upon it, really to be understood in the sense of an exploitation of creation by humans? What role does the Qur’an ascribe to man as “khalifa”? When is the focus on preserving creation? How can environmentally ethical action be justified theologically? 

“Between domination and preservation – How do religions contribute to a more sustainable world?” is the title of the 3rd theological conversation on 17th August 2021. It is being held at the HU’s Campus Nord as part of the Open Humboldt Festival. 

Speakers and statements

Dr Philipp Öhlmann, head of the Religious Communities and Sustainable Development research programme, Faculty of Theology, HU

“The 2030 Agenda of the United Nations, with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals, marks a paradigm shift in international development policy: the distinction between “developing countries” and “developed countries” is done away with. This transformation towards sustainability requires a fundamental change in social, economic, political and cultural attitudes that involves all actors in society. Religious communities can make an important contribution here.”

Prof. Dr Katharina Pyschny, Professor of Biblical Theology, Institute for Catholic Theology, HU

“From a biblical perspective, man must take a protective and nurturing approach towards creation and all creatures, as the representative of God. How we can then succeed in preserving creation as a habitat in different periods, cultures and circumstances is something man must reflect on for himself.”

Mona Feise-Nasr, research assistant in the junior research group “Islamic Theology in Context. Science and Society”, Berlin Institute for Islamic Theology, HU

“The exploitation of the earth, the world around us and other people as cheap labour, aimed at maximising profits, represents an impoverished relationship with God. One can argue that environmentally ethical action is an imperative based on the Islamic understanding of the connection between God, man and the environment. Religions can only make a contribution towards achieving a sustainable world if people engage with their principles of environmental ethics and translate these into practical action.”

Dr Wolfram Stierle, head of the “Value-Based Development Policy Dialogue” specialist department at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and advisor to the Federal Government Commissioner for Worldwide Religious Freedom

“Religions have a great deal of potential for contributing to a more sustainable world by providing guidance for mankind and offering structures and networks for sustainable development.”

Hosted by: Hans-Christoph Keller, press spokesperson of the HU

More information about the event is also available on the HU’s social media channels: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn.

Where and when – how to take part

Date: Tuesday, 17th August 2021, 6 p.m. to 7.30 p.m., as part of the Open Humboldt Festival

Location: Campus Nord, Philippstr. 13, 10115 Berlin (follow signs to the main stage (“Hauptbühne”)

Click here to register on the event page

“Faith & Knowledge. Theological conversations at the HU”

The series of talks explores theological perspectives on current social issues. To do so, it brings the fields of theology at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin into dialogue with other disciplines and the public. The goal is an exchange between representatives from academia, practice and the public. So far, theological conversations have been held on the subjects of “Loneliness in the pandemic – What provides assurance?” (March 2021) and “Society in a state of upheaval – What does solidarity mean in a crisis?” (May 2021). 

More information about the "Faith & Knowledge" series can be found here


Hans-Christoph Keller
Press Spokesperson
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Tel.: +49 30 2093-12710