Upcoming Events

Deep Time, Climate Change, and the Universe Story: Implications for Theology and Ministry

February 18, 2022 – February 19, 2022 all-day
Online Course
Lisa Simon

Instructor: Daniel Spencer
Date: Friday, February 18, 1:00 – 6:00 pm  |  Saturday, February 19, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Format: This two-day intensive course will be held online, through synchronous sessions. Registrants are expected to attend full-time, for both days.

Course Registration

This course will explore the implications of the geological discoveries of “deep time” and Earth’s history of climate change for contemporary Theology and Ministry. Using insights from Marcia Bjornerud’s Timefulness: How Thinking Like a Geologist Can Help Save the World, we’ll explore environmental and social problems aggravated by pervasive “time illiteracy” in contemporary culture and thought. We will connect biblical and geological notions of time by setting the Earth’s story and the biblical story within the larger context of the contemporary scientific story of an evolving Universe Story. Using the work of Thomas Berry and “the New Story,” we’ll explore biblical themes of Wonder, Joy, Brokenness and Healing to offer new insights and approaches to contemporary theology and ministry.

About Dan Spencer

Dan Spencer is professor of environmental studies and has taught at the University of Montana since 2002. He received his M.Div. ’83 and his PhD. ’94 from Union Theological Seminary, and served for eight years on Union’s Alumni Board. A child of the West, Spencer has also spent significant time overseas working on human rights and social change issues, and is particularly passionate about three primary areas of interest that inform his teaching and research: community participation in ecological restoration, environmental and social justice issues connected to economic globalization, and the intersection of religion, ecology, and environmental ethics. He has helped place graduate students in field sites in Central America with diverse nongovernmental organizations working on issues of environmental sustainability, social justice, and sustainable agriculture.

In recent years he has taken several classes to Vietnam to look at the intersection of climate change and social-economic development in SE Asia. He works with the Young Southeast Asia Leadership Institute through the Mansfield Center at the University of Montana, bringing YSEALI fellows from 11 ASEAN nations to Montana and Washington DC. Recently he has been using his training in geology to examine ethical issues related to deep time, species extinctions, and climate change. Spencer loves thinking, writing about, and engaging ethical issues at the intersection of ecological sustainability and social justice.

Spencer is the author of Gay and Gaia: Ethics, Ecology and the Erotic (Pilgrim, 1996), and co-author of Earth Ethics: A Case Study Approach, that contains nine contemporary case studies in environmental issues and ecological justice. He offers graduate study examining how diverse religious traditions are responding to the environmental crisis and what resources religion and spirituality can offer toward a constructive response. Spencer remains active in the Religion and Ecology section of the American Academy of Religion.

Spencer has served on the international Board for the Society for Ecological Restoration, the Missoula Open Space Advisory Committee and the Wild Rockies Field Institute. He has deep interest in community involvement in ecological restoration, and is active in several local and regional environmental groups, including the Clark Fork CoalitionFive Valleys Land Trust, the Montana Wilderness Association, and Wilderness Watch.