Religion is playing an unusual role in China's response to multiple environmental challenges. After decades of official repression of religion and traditional culture in China, senior government officials are invoking religion as part of the ecological civilization China needs to meet its challenges. Prominent academics and journalists too are becoming as open to adhering to faith systems once conspired taboo.
On Tuesday, October 28, Pulitzer Center Executive Director Jon Sawyer moderated a two-panel discussion on religion's unlikely role in meeting China's environmental crisis as part of our Campus Consortium visit to the University of Chicago.
Liu Jianqiang, Beijing editor for China Dialogue and an investigative journalist born in the era of China's Cultural Revolution. He is featured in Gary Marcuse's documentary, Waking the Green Tiger, and his conversion to Buddhism is featured in Marcuse's new documentary, Sacred Mountain.
Gary Marcuse, Director of Waking the Green Tiger, the story of the birth of the grassroots movement that managed to halt the construction of a massive dam on the upper Yangtze River in 2008. His current work, Sacred Mountain, explores the role of religion in the environmental movement in China.
Sim Chi Yin, Beijing-based photojournalist and member of the VII photo agency. After nearly a decade as a journalist and foreign correspondent at Singapore's national daily The Straits Times, she left to pursue photography full time. She shoots regularly for The New York Times, frequently documenting social issues in both her personal and professional work.
Ian Johnson, Beijing-based journalist associated with Loyola University Chicago, who specializes in civil society, culture and religion. While at the Wall Street Journal, he won several prizes, including the Pulitzer Prize, for his coverage of the suppression of the Falun Gong movement and the rise of civil society in China. Johnson left the newspaper in 2010 to pursue magazine and book writing on cultural and social affairs, and is currently a Beijing-correspondent for The New York Times and contributes regularly to other publications.
Mary Evelyn Tucker, Co-director of Yale University's Forum on Religion and Ecology, a joint master's degree program between the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and the Divinity School. Her focus of study is Asian religions. and she received her Ph.D. from Columbia University in Japanese Confucianism. Her concern for the growing environmental crisis, especially in Asia, led her to organize with John Grim a series of ten conferences on World Religions and Ecology at the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard (1995-1998).
Dali Yang, Founding Faculty Director of the University of Chicago Center in Beijing, a university-wide initiative to promote collaboration and exchange between University of Chicago scholars and students and their Chinese counterparts. Yang's current research is focused on the politics of China's development, particularly risk regulation and governance, and state-society relations—a topic of which he has written several books.
The panel discussion was co-sponsored by the Pulitzer Center and the following University of Chicago departments:
The World Beyond the Headlines
Center for International Studies
Chicago Career Advancement Journalism, Arts, & Media
Chicago Program on the Global Environment
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