The Claremont Eco Forum is the oldest and largest Western forum on ecological civilization. It brings together academics, leaders, officials, and activists to explore new worldviews, models of development, organic farming, and education. With over 60,000 participants, it has a significant influence. Held annually since 2006, it attracts many participants from all around the world, receives media coverage, and presents the John Cobb Common Good Award. It also hosts the International Youth Forum on Eco-civilization. The latest forum was held online from May 25-27, 2023, focusing on deep transformation for ecological civilization.
In the realm of ecological civilization, proponents firmly believe that addressing the complex social and environmental challenges of our time requires a profound transformation that goes beyond surface-level solutions. It demands a fundamental reevaluation of our perceptions of the world and our place within it. This transformative journey serves as the focal point of the highly anticipated International Forum on Ecological Civilization.
Over the course of three enlightening days, attendees will embark on a captivating exploration of strategies aimed at effecting change at the deepest levels of the self, systems, and society as a whole. On the first day, the forum will delve into the notion that genuine societal change often begins with inner transformation. Esteemed experts hailing from diverse disciplines, ranging from spirituality to psychology, will share their profound insights on how we can cultivate personal growth and nurture a flourishing mindset essential for initiating a broader societal transformation.
Continuing the discussion, the second day of the forum will unravel the complexities of reshaping society from various perspectives. The question of whether societal change is primarily a top-down endeavor initiated by those in positions of power, or if it emerges organically from the grassroots, will be explored. Experts will present their proposals for reshaping society in ways that prioritize long-term well-being for both individuals and the planet we call home.
Shifting the focus to the role of the younger generation, the forum will examine their potential in mending the damage inflicted upon our world on the third day. Can they be the catalysts for positive change? In collaboration with the 5th International Youth Forum on Ecological Civilization, the event will provide a platform for young leaders to present their visionary proposals on how to create a world that fosters harmony and meets the needs of all.
Throughout this extraordinary event, thought-provoking discussions and vibrant exchanges will illuminate the multifaceted dimensions of deep transformation. By bringing together seasoned scholars and emerging voices, the forum seeks to forge innovative ideas and pave the way toward a more sustainable and equitable future.
The opening session revolved around the theme of self-transformation, emphasizing the importance of inner change in achieving a profound shift towards ecological civilization. Dr. Wm. Andrew Schwartz skillfully moderated the session, bringing his expertise as the Executive Director of the Center for Process Studies and Assistant Professor of Process Studies & Comparative Theology at Claremont School of Theology. Additionally, he is the Co-Founder and Vice President of the Institute for Ecological Civilization.
Another distinguished participant was Fr. Joshtrom Kureethadam, who serves as the coordinator of Ecology and Creation at the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. He also holds the positions of chair of Philosophy of Science and director of the Institute of Social and Political Sciences at the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome. Fr. Kureethadam is widely recognized for his influential works, including his most recent book, “The Ten Green Commandments of Laudato Si’” (2019).
Dr. Mary Evelyn Tucker, a Senior Lecturer and Research Scholar at Yale University, brought her vast knowledge and expertise to the forum. At Yale, she holds appointments in the School of the Environment, the Divinity School, and the Department of Religious Studies. Dr. Tucker is actively involved in the joint MA program in religion and ecology and serves as the director of the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale, alongside her husband, John Grim. She has been deeply engaged with the Earth Charter since its inception and has served on various influential committees and advisory boards, contributing to the promotion of sustainability and environmental awareness.
Joining the esteemed panel was Dr. Sheri D. Kling, a distinguished writer, teacher, and constructive theologian. With a focus on transformation, psycho-spiritual wholeness, and human flourishing, Dr. Kling has dedicated her career to helping individuals heal and thrive. Her unique approach combines wisdom, creative writing, and soulful experiences to inspire positive change. She has delivered keynote addresses, led retreats, and offered her expertise to groups of various sizes, addressing profound existential questions. With a background in business, the arts, and higher education, Dr. Kling’s deep expertise is channeled for the greater good.
Valerie Voggenreiter, a member of the research group TranS-Mind, contributed her insights as a social scientist specializing in sustainability and social-ecological transformation. Her focus lies in cultivating sustainability as a life-serving mindset, utilizing self-efficacy, reflection, and courage to drive deep-seated shifts in thinking, feeling, and acting. Valerie’s academic background includes International Development studies at the University of Vienna and Global Change Management studies at the University for Sustainable Development. Her initiatives, such as the Silence Space project, provide analog spaces for introspection and self-reflection. Valerie is also skilled in facilitating group processes, drawing on the Art-of-Hosting tradition.
Dr. Dongwoo Lee, as the Executive Director of EcoCiv Korea, played a pivotal role in the forum. He is one of the organizers of the EcoForum and he actively participated as a panelist in the opening session. He is also involved in directing the Korea Project at the Center for Process Studies. Dr. Lee holds a PhD degree from Claremont School of Theology and possesses expertise in comparative religion and philosophy, process thoughts, postcolonialism, poststructuralism, contextual studies, economics, and ecological studies. Currently based in Los Angeles, California, Dr. Lee brings his diverse knowledge and experience to advance the goals of ecological civilization.
Together, this distinguished group of scholars and experts enriched the EcoForum with their valuable contributions, enhancing our understanding and fostering meaningful discussions on the path towards a more sustainable and equitable future. You can check out the recording of the session here. (https://youtu.be/HwrOjmM1wCY)
Our civilization should recognize the significance of values such as beauty and truth in enhancing the collective well-being of society, rather than focusing solely on individual well-being. Our civilizational vision should emphasize the interconnectedness and relational nature of all entities. When we apply this idea to the current crisis of climate change, it becomes evident that concerted efforts are needed to create a better future. By realizing the interdependence of all entities in the universe and perceiving reality as a web of relationships, we open ourselves to recognizing and fostering harmonious connections. This path, I believe, leads us towards a sustainable future and serves as the foundation for an ecological civilization. Such a perspective suggests that embracing adventure and engaging with the unknown can result in new experiences, civilizational transformation, and creative transformations of society.
You can check out the whole forum and recordings here. (https://claremontecoforum.org/plenary-panelists/)