An International Conference of the International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture



The India China Institute (ICI) at The New School, the International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture (ISSRNC), American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) are excited to announce an international conference on mountains and sacred landscapes. The conference will include the latest research on the intersections of religion, nature and culture and will feature special presentations from ICI’s three-year Sacred Himalaya Initiative.  

The conference seeks to explore the ways in which the sacred landscapes concept is entangled with diverse communities, with particular attention to mountain landscapes. The conference will feature interdisciplinary dialogue about what kinds of meanings shape, and are shaped by, the effects of climate change, mass extinction, human population growth and ecological degradation of mountains, forests, rivers and other sacred landscapes.  


As we enter a new geologic epoch scientists and scholars are referring to as the Anthropocene, diverse global mountain communities face growing social, economic, political, and ecological challenges. Melting glaciers, shifting agricultural patterns, conflicts over mining and resource extraction, risks to livelihoods, and the consequences of increasingly erratic global climate change pose unknown future challenges to many sacred landscapes, including mountain communities and ecosystems around the world, as well as the humans and non-humans relying on them.  

Call for proposals and papers

The organisers invite scholars from all disciplines, including environmental history and environmental studies, science studies, anthropology, philosophy, political science, religious studies and geography, to submit proposals related to sacred landscapes.  

Proposals may address any of the following themes:    

  • Challenges and opportunities for sacred landscapes in the 21st century  
  • Theoretical and/or religious conceptualizations of place, space, and landscape  
  • Negotiation of community, climate change, and mountain spirituality  
  • Traditional/local knowledge and its effects on social and ecological justice  
  • Ecosystem sustainability and the future of mountain and forest people  
  • Ecosystem destruction and the fate of the non-human community 
  • Mountains as diverse ecosystems and sites of religious negotiation  
  • Manifestations of the sacred in diverse landscapes  
  • Negotiating environmental challenge through ritual practices 

This year’s conference explicitly seeks to disrupt the conventional ‘three people reading papers’ session.  We seek innovative and unconventional proposals from all fields for this interdisciplinary conference. We invite proposals for individual papers, entire sessions, round-tables, interactive workshops, conversations, and alternative formats. We are also proposing two experimental TEDx style presentations of 10 minutes with 5-7 presenters.   

Submission guidelines 

  • Paper proposals must include a brief 150 word abstract and an extended 500 word summary of the paper.  
  • Session proposals should include individual paper proposals (meeting the guidelines stated above) for  each  participant as  well  as  an  overview document which states the proposed session title, individual participant names, paper titles,  respondents, in  the appropriate/desired order of presentations.  
  • Proposals for sessions or events that do not fit a traditional session format are encouraged and can be described as appropriate. These might include round-tables, jam sessions or workshop proposals.   

Extended Proposal Submission Deadline:   Monday October 10, 2016 (05:00pm EST)

The proposal submission form can be found on the ICI website at: 

Submission guidelines, the travel aid application process and information on requesting visa letters are all available on the ICI conference website. All conference-related questions and inquiries should be directed to:

Travel aid and visas

Scholars whose papers are accepted and who would be unable to attend without financial support will have an opportunity to apply for modest, supplementary travel grants. Most of these grants will go to students with little funding available to them or scholars from institutions and countries with fewer resources for travel to international conferences. Scholars who will need letters of invitation in order to obtain a visa for travel to the United States must indicate this in their application form. This process can often take considerable time so it should be undertaken upon the acceptance of proposals or papers.   

Participation requirements for presenters  

All presenters must be members in good standing of the International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture and registered for the conference by 1 March 2017. All scholars interested in religion, nature and culture are encouraged to support the society by joining or renewing at the ISSRNC membership page.    


Presenters and session organisers are encouraged to submit their articles for publication, or their sessions for special issues, to the Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture (JSRNC). 

Featured Speakers Include

  • Ed Bernbaum – Scholar of comparative religions and mythology, Senior Fellow at The Mountain Institute and Award-winning author of Sacred Mountains of the World and The Way to Shambhala
  • Ben Orlove – Professor of Anthropology, Senior Research Scientist at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society, and Co-director of the Center for Research in Environmental Decisions
  • David Rothenberg – Professor of Philosophy and Music and author of Why Birds Sing: A Journey Into the Mystery of Bird Song and Survival of the Beautiful: Art, Science and Evolution

Conference sponsors