AAR Member Spotlight

Evan Berry

Evan Berry is an assistant professor of environmental humanities in the school of history, philosophy, and religious studies at Arizona State University. His research examines the relationship between religion and the public sphere in contemporary societies, with special attention to the way religious ideas and organizations are mobilized in response to climate change and other global environmental challenges. He also serves as the chair of the American Academy of Religion's Committee for the Public Understanding of Religion, which fosters attention to the broad public understanding of religion and the role of religion in public life.

October 13, 2021

Why did you get involved with AAR and how is your work aligned?

I have been an AAR member since 2002, early in my graduate studies. The Annual Meeting has always been an important space for connecting me with other scholars and for presenting my work to critical audiences. The Religion and Ecology Unit was very important for my career development – I met a number of mentors through that group and received a lot of sage advice.

What is your area of expertise or field of study?

My work explores the intersections between religion and the environment, specifically the ways that religious ideas and vocabularies shape and constrain how various publics think about and respond to environmental crises, especially climate change.

How has AAR been beneficial to you and your career?

Any subfield can become intellectually insular, so the AAR has helped keep me connected to friends and colleagues in other areas of religious studies. Cross-pollination among subfields is rewarding and important, and this is one of the absences I’ve felt most acutely during the pandemic.

What book is on your nightstand that you're reading or intend to read in the future?

I’ve been reading a lot of fiction and a lot of environmental humanities scholarship during the pandemic, much of which addresses the religio-culltural bases of ecological crises. By night, I am reading How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue. My ASU colleague Matt Bell’s Appleseed is up next. By day, I’m working through Dipesh Chakrabarty’s The Climate of History in a Planetary Age and Eduardo Gudynas’s Extractivism: Politics, Economy and Ecology.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

I like to run, and when I can get away for a couple of days, I like to go backpacking. My family enjoys watching baseball and pretty much any sci fi shows. There are two needy dogs who help make sure there is an “outside of work.”