An Open Letter to the Paris UN Climate Convention from Religious Leaders in U.S. Higher Education

12/09/2015 06:09 pm ET Updated Dec 09, 2016

We write to you as college and university administrators and religious leaders responsible for guiding major initiatives in interfaith cooperation and community service in U.S. higher education. Many of our campuses have been named to President Barack Obama's 2015 Interfaith and Community Service Honor Roll. We represent a multitude of faith backgrounds, spiritual identities, humanist allegiances, and moral persuasions.

Together, we extend this letter calling upon governmental leaders and political actors present at the UN Convention on Climate Change in Paris 2015, to forge and commit to strong, binding agreements to ameliorate the human impact on climate change while protecting the basic human needs of all people.

We lift up the 2015 Parliament of the World's Religions Interfaith Call to Action on Climate Change: "The damaging impacts of climate change are already extensive...If human behavior does not change, these impacts will become far more extreme, resulting in turmoil and suffering on an enormous scale with immense harm to both humans and other forms of life. People affected are, and will be, disproportionately the poor, marginalized, and vulnerable, including women and children--those who have done least to create this crisis. This is a massive injustice."

As college and university professionals of conscience, we have been charged with fostering the religious, spiritual, and moral integrity of the next generations. We charge those present in Paris to take action to ensure a livable planet for these future generations by putting global well-being over specific national interests. The world is in your hands. Please act wisely.

Signed:

Alexander Levering Kern (co-author)
Executive Director
Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service
Northeastern University
Boston, Massachusetts

Harrison Blum (co-author)
Buddhist Spiritual Advisor and Mindfulness Programs Coordinator
Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service
Northeastern University
Boston, Massachusetts

Jem Jebbia
Senior Assistant Director
Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service
Northeastern University
Boston, Massachusetts

Karin Firoza
Assistant Director
Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service
Northeastern University
Boston, Massachusetts

Celene Ibrahim
Islamic Studies Scholar-in-Residence and Co-Director of CIRCLE
Andover Newton Theological School & Hebrew College
Newton Centre, Massachusetts
Muslim Chaplain
Tufts University
Medford, Massachusetts

Ken Scott
Director of Community Service
Eco-Ministry & Leadership - earthpeace
The College of Saint Rose
Interfaith Sanctuary / Spiritual Life Area
Albany, New York

Rev. John D. Williams, Ph.D.
Chaplain and Director of Church Relations
Austin College
Sherman, Texas

Jeffrey Scholes, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy
Director, Center for Religious Diversity and Public Life
University of Colorado, Colorado Springs

The Reverend Janet M. Cooper Nelson
Chaplain of the University and Director
Office of Chaplains & Religious Life
Brown University
Providence, Rhode Island

Graziano Marcheschi, M.A., D.Min.
Vice President for University Mission and Ministry
Saint Xavier University
Chicago, Illinois

Rev. Dr. Zandra Wagoner
University Chaplain and Assistant Professor of Religion
University of La Verne
La Verne, California

The Rev. Dr. Paul V. Sorrentino
Director of Religious and Spiritual Life and Protestant Religious Advisor
Cadigan Center for Religious Life
Amherst College
Amherst, Massachusetts

Walker A. Bristol
Humanist in Residence
Tufts University
Medford, Masschusetts

Dr. Patrick B. Reyes
Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs
Director of the Center for Community Engagement
Trinity Lutheran College
Everett, Washington

Rev. David K. Miller
College Minister
Union College
Barbourville, Kentucky

Matthew Shields
Director for Mission & Ministry
College of Mount Saint Vincent
Bronx, New York

Alexander Hernandez-Siegel
Mennonite Chaplain
Harvard University
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Vanessa Christman
Assistant Dean of the College for Access and Community Development
The Pensby Center
Bryn Mawr College
Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

Rev. Dave Wright
University Chaplain
Director for Spiritual Life and Civic Engagement
The Center for Intercultural and Civic Engagement
University of Puget Sound
Tacoma, Washington

The Rev. Canon Dr. C. Denise Yarbrough
Director, Religious and Spiritual Life
University of Rochester, Interfaith Chapel
Rochester, New York

Rev. Jeff Buscher
Chaplain
William Jewell College
Liberty, Missouri

Kathryn O'Loughlin
Associate Director, Mission and Ministry
College of Mount Saint Vincent
Bronx, New York

Matthew Shields
Director for Mission & Ministry
College of Mount Saint Vincent
Bronx, New York

Jennifer Karsten
Executive Director
Pendle Hill Quaker Center
Wallingford, Pennsylvania

Reb Eli Herb
Jewish Spiritual Advisor
Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service
Northeastern University
Boston, Massachusetts

Rev. Nancy Victorin-Vangerud, Ph.D.
University Chaplain and Director
The Wesley Center for Spirituality, Service and Social Justice
Hamline University

Rev. Matt Carriker
Protestant Chaplain
Brandeis University
Waltham, Massachusetts

Rabbi Patricia Karlin-Neumann
Senior Associate Dean for Religious Life
Stanford University
Palo Alto, California

Rev. Joanne Sanders
Associate Dean for Religious Life
Stanford University
Palo Alto, California

Mary Lahaj
Muslim Chaplain (retired)
Simmons College
Boston, Massachusetts

The Rev. Dr. Nancy A.G. Vogele
Director of Religious and Spiritual Life
The William Jewett Tucker Center
Dartmouth College
Hanover, New Hampshire

Jennifer L. Sanborn
Admissions, Hartford Seminary, Hartford, Connecticut
Pastor, Enfield American Baptist Church

Nathan Wallace
Assistant Project Coordinator, Student Affairs
Erie Community College
Buffalo, New York

John Bach
Quaker Chaplain
Harvard University
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tarah Trueblood, Esq. JD, MDiv, MA
Director, University of North Florida Interfaith Center
Jacksonville, Florida

Walter Hjelt Sullivan
Director of Quaker Affairs
Haverford College
Haverford, Pennsylvania

Rachel Samuelson
Coordinator, Student Community Engagement Center
Portland State University
Portland, Oregon

Rev. Kate Smanik
Assistant Dean of Students for Spirituality, Service and Social Justice
DePauw University
Greencastle, Indiana

Robert A. Pyne, Th.D.
Senior Director for Community Engagement
Director, Norman Miller Center for Peace, Justice & Public Understanding
St. Norbert College
De Pere, Wisconsin

Rabbi Jeff Foust
Jewish Chaplain
Spiritual Life Center
Bentley University
Waltham, Massachusetts

The Rev. Charles L. Howard, Ph.D.
University Chaplain
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Todd Williams
Spiritual Advisor, Agape Christian Fellowship
Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service
Northeastern University
Boston, Massachusetts

Jyl Gentzler
Humanist Advisor
William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Philosophy
Amherst College
Amherst, Massachusetts

Malisa Ellis
Spiritual Advisor
Agape Christian Fellowship
Northeastern University
Boston, Massachusetts

Sr. Chris Clark, DHM
Catholic Advisor
Amherst College
Amherst, Massachusetts

Rev. Robin J. Olson, DMin.
Spiritual Life Center Director
Bentley University
Waltham, Massachusetts

Yael Shy
Senior Director
Global Spiritual Life
New York University
New York, New York

Rev. Dr. Rodney L. Petersen
Executive Director
Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries and Interfaith Youth Initiative (IFYI)
Newton Center, Massachusetts

Rev. MaryHelen Gunn
Spiritual Advisor Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service
Northeastern University
Boston, Massachusetts

Gary R. Kirk, Ph.D.
Director, VT Engage: The Community Learning Collaborative
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, Virginia

Melody Fox Ahmed
Assistant Director for Programs
Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs
Georgetown University
Washington, DC

Julie Newman
Student Cantor
Hebrew College - School of Jewish Music
Newton Centre, Massachusetts

Maytal Saltiel
Assistant University Chaplain for Special Programs
Yale University
New Haven, Connecticut

Rev. Laura Brekke
Director of Religious Diversity
Santa Clara University
Santa Clara, California

Rev. Judith Stuart
University Chaplain - The Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts
Northeastern University and Boston College
Boston, Massachusetts

Rev. Dr. Justin Allen
Dean of Spiritual Life
Director of the Institute for Church Professions
Shenandoah University
Winchester, Virginia

The Rev. Katrina E. Jenkins
Chaplain
Illinois College
Jacksonville, Illinois

Imam Abdallah Ddumba
Muslim Adviser
Spiritual Life Center
Bentley University
Waltham, Massachusetts

Jennifer Peace, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Interfaith Studies
Co-director, Center for Interreligious and Communal Leadership Education (CIRCLE)
Andover Newton Theological School
Newton Centre, Massachusetts

Aaron Jones. M.A.
Assistant Director for Community Affairs, Civic Engagement & Advocacy
Associated Students
President, Graduate Students Association
UC Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, California

Dudley C. Rose
Associate Dean, Ministry Studies
Harvard Divinity School
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Kurt Nelson, MDiv
Dean of Religious & Spiritual Life
Colby College
Waterville, Maine

Rev. Elyse Nelson Winger
University Chaplain
Associate Director, IWU Center for Human Rights and Social Justice
Illinois Wesleyan University
Bloomington, Illinois

Kathleen S. Flowers
Director, Center for Community Engagement & Service-Learning
Hobart & William Smith Colleges
Geneva, New York

Jeremy T. Wattles
Associate Director
Center for Community Engagement & Service-Learning
Hobart & William Smith Colleges
Geneva, New York

Rev. Alex Hendrickson
College Chaplain and Director of Religious & Spiritual Life
Lafayette College
Easton, Pennsylvania

Kasra Ghorbaninejad
Shia Spiritual Advisor
Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service
Northeastern University
Boston, Massachusetts

Kaitlin Ho
Campus Staff Minister, Intervarsity Multiethnic Christian Fellowship
Northeastern University
Boston, Massachusetts

Ahmad Abdul-Rahim
Muslim Spiritual Advisor
Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service
Northeastern University
Boston, Massachusetts