Hope against Hope: Spirituality & Climate Change Vodcasts for COP26

Image credit Ade Tunji - approved use
Image Credits - Ade-Tunji

Speaker Biographies

Katharine Hayhoe & Ruth Padilla DeBorst

Katharine Hayhoe is a renowned environmental scientist, Christian campaigner and author. She is the chief scientist for the international organisation Nature Conservancy. Her focus is upon what climate change means for people, creatures and cultures and she works to raise popular awareness of the climate crisis.

Ruth Padilla DeBorst is a Latin American liberation theologian whose work focusses upon environmental justice, participative forms of communal living and education for transformation. She lives in Costa Rica where she is a member of the intentional community,
Casa Adobe.

Professor Alison Phipps, Hannah Thomas, & Hyab Yohanne

Alison Phipps holds the UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts at the University of Glasgow where she is also Professor of Languages and Intercultural Studies, and Co-Convener of Glasgow Refugee, Asylum and Migration Network. Her work focusses on migration, refugee communities and communicating the diverse challenges of displacement. She has worked with displaced young people, indigenous researchers and artists from across the globe. She is a poet herself and a member of the Iona Community.

Hannah Thomas is a British artist who studied both Arabic and history. Her experience of working with Syrian refugees for the UNHCR provoked her to bring her art and her humanitarian work together. She creates spiritually attuned portrayals of those who have lost everything through displacement -images which also display the persistence of dignity and hope in the face of loss.

Hyab Yohannes has suffered incarceration for his humanitarian work, survived human trafficking and endured years of uncertain status as an asylum seeker and refugee. He has made these experiences the subject of his research and reflections as well as his continued political and campaigning efforts in support of other displaced people. His recent reflections have been deeply inspired by the work of the Eritrean artist Michael Adonai.

John Barclay, Cherryl Hunt, & Suzanna Miller

John Barclay is Lightfoot Professor of Divinity at Durham University and a leading scholar of the New Testament and early Christian history. He is well known for his ground-breaking work on Paul and ethics, particularly the significance of gift and grace in the formation of the radical, early Christian communities.

Cherryl Hunt is a former molecular biologist who now pursues her vocation as a theologian and educator. A key focus of her research has been the significance of the Bible in the construction of ecological ethics. She currently works for the South West Ministry course and continues to pursue her interest in how people of faith read ancient texts in response to contemporary climate challenges.

Suzanna Miller is passionately interested in both biblical wisdom literature and climate justice - particularly as it relates to non-human living beings. She brings these concerns together in her work as co-chair of the ‘Animals and the Bible’ research group for the European Association of Biblical Studies and in her interdisciplinary research on how animals are linked with marginalised humans in a variety of biblical contexts.

Sarah Corbett, Anna Fisk, & Clare Radford

Sarah Corbett is an author and activist. She is the founder of the Craftivist Collective an organisation committed to ‘gentle activism’ that seeks to promote radical change through bringing people together to shape and make beautiful objects and generate hopes and visions that reshape the world.

Anna Fisk is a feminist theologian and climate justice activist as well as a creative maker. She has researched and written on the spirituality of women’s creative work and the characteristics of a healthy and prophetic climate movement.

Clare Radford is Research Associate at the Lincoln Theological Institute based at the University of Manchester. Her research is on the ‘embodied everyday’ in anti-poverty activism. She employs collaborative, artistic and creative approaches to her work in partnership with people experiencing marginalisation and seeking transformed futures.


Ariel Zinder & Ophira Gamliel

Ariel Zinder is a poet and literary scholar based at Tel Aviv University. His work explores the interface between literary, and historical traditions (including Hebrew liturgical poetry) and the questions that provoke us to address the divine today. He is currently reflecting on the book of Job and its mode of presenting God and humanity through poetic evocations of the ambivalent power and beauty of the natural order

Ophira Gamliel researches in the field of South Asian religions and explores the relations between languages, religions, communities, and institutions. She specialises in Kerala’s culture and history and the implications of cultural diversity on resilience and intercommunal solidarity at the face of environmental challenges (particularly flooding).

Bill McKibben

American environmentalist Bill McKibben was one of the first to introduce the concept of climate change to the wider public in his 1989 book, The End of Nature. He has since written and extensively on the climate emergency and campaigned on numerous issues of climate concern. He founded and continues to advise the global grassroots climate campaign movement 350.org

Catherine Keller

Catherine Keller is Professor of Constructive Theology at Drew University and a leading theological voice on climate change issues. Throughout her oeuvre she has focussed on relational understandings of the divine and how these might become a way of focussing spiritual attention on the challenges of living in an interrelated ecology. Her recent books include A Political Theology of the Earth and Facing Apocalypse.

Prashant Olalekar SJ, Hazel Lobo & Trish Watts

Prashant Olalekar sj is the founder of InterPlay India, a worldwide movement that fosters the integral wisdom of the body. He has organised several pilgrimages called ‘Building Bridges Peace by Peace’ in which US and Aussie InterPlayers played as equals with marginalised groups in the urban and rural areas of India. Prashant is the former director of the Department for InterReligious Dialogue at St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, where he exposed the students to playful interfaith dialogue at the grassroots. Energised by the vision and mission to ‘Cocreate Cosmic Compassion’ they responded creatively in playful ways to the cry of the Earth and cry of the Poor. As a member of the International Big History Association he fostered ‘Playful Education in a Playful Universe.’ He is also cofounder of Samanvaya, an interfaith platform for Harmony, that strives for communal and cosmic harmony. These ‘out of the box’ adventures offer abundant scope for collaborating as innovative voices for the voiceless.

Hazel Lobo is an artist and activist who uses art-therapy, dance, drama, music and movement to raise awareness about justice issues including sexual abuse and violence and to enable people to move beyond these into ways of living that embody respect and care.

Trish Watts is a singer, songwriter and educator. For the past 40 years, Trish has worked as a performing artist, workshop and retreat facilitator in voice, creativity, soul and body wisdom. Trish is a trained InterPlay facilitator - an improvisation-based community arts practice - and co-founded InterPlay Australia more than 25 years ago. Her work is anchored in the bedrock of play and improvisation. As a registered Voice Movement Therapy (VMT) practitioner, Trish has run vocal programs in many countries, including for STARTTS - Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors in Sydney. Co-founder of Willow (Music) Publishing, Trish is a published songwriter and recording artist with more than 10 CD collections of original work. A community choir director, her choirs include: Colla Voce, a vocal multi-cultural ensemble; the Sydney and Cambodian Threshold Choirs (singers who sing at bedsides in palliative care and recovery); and the Music Arts School Community Choir of Phnom Penh. Trish believes passionately that “Every life can SING!”

David Clough & Peter Scott

The central concern of David Clough’s work is the place of animals in Christian thought and practice. His two volume series, On Animals, explores their place in Christian thinking and in ethical decision making. He is currently working on a major research project on farmed animal welfare.

Peter Scott is a Professor at Manchester University and Director of the Lincoln Theological Institute. His research is interdisciplinary and politically engaged. He focusses on the ‘big’ challenges encountered in late capitalist society including environmental degradation and climate change.


Amitav Ghosh, Ali Sethi & Salman Toor

Amitav Ghosh has written numerous acclaimed novels, many of which are located in the Indian Ocean World. His work has been translated into over thirty languages and he has been awarded numerous prestigious literary prizes. Ghosh’s deep commitment climate justice is evident in both his fiction and recent important none fiction interventions. His influential book, The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable explores our collective failure to grapple with the climate emergency in contemporary fiction, historiography and politics.

Ali Sethi is a writer and musician who is deeply engaged by the evocative and ‘storying’ potential of musical performance and draws deeply upon traditional musical forms to inform his own work. From a politically radical family he is deeply aware of how popular cultural interventions are significant vehicles for cultural transformation.

Salman Toor is an artist much of whose work explores the borderland experiences of queer brown men in evocative scenes of social encounter, isolation and exclusion. Critics have noted that his stirring images invest everyday scenes with sacred significance and portray with deep reverence people and situations often assumed to be secular or profane.


Iona & Taizé Communities

The Taizé community is an ecumenical monastic order with a commitment to practices worship and meditation which express concern for peace, justice and planetary healing. There work has inspired many Christian lay people to engage in prayerful action and provided resources for worship renewal in many Christian contexts. They have maintained a strong devotional presence at COP 26.

The Iona Community is a dispersed Christian ecumenical community working for peace and social justice, rebuilding of community and the renewal of worship. It includes people from many different walks of life and diverse Christian traditions. They are engaged with people of goodwill across the world, in acting, reflecting and praying for justice, peace and the integrity of creation. Members believe that the just and inclusive society they seek should be embodied in the community they practise.

Saeko Yazaki

Saeko Yazaki is Lecturer in Religious Studies at the University of Glasgow. Her research has specialised in Islam, Muslim-Jewish relations and Japanese traditions. Her current interests are in cross-cultural interactions, including the way in which Japanese traditions have been introduced and interpreted in Western societies.

Julie Clague

Julie Clague is Lecturer in Catholic Theology at the University of Glasgow. She works with the Caritas development agencies SCIAF and CAFOD and serves on the board of the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities.