Sewanee: The University of the South

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Sewanee: The University of the South

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Robin Gottfried, executive director.

Robin Gottfried serves as the executive director of the Center for Religion and Environment. Gottfried is professor of economics at the University of the South and a fellow of the Landscape Analysis Laboratory. Long known for his passion for environmental economics and sustainable development, he has conducted research on land use change and forest policy, as well as the economic impacts of development and other economic activity in the U.S., Costa Rica, and elsewhere. Gottfried helped spearhead the creation of Sewanee’s environmental studies program and served as its first chair. Author of "Economics, Ecology and the Roots of Western Faith: Perspectives from the Garden," Gottfried is a facilitator for the "Opening the Book of Nature" program and a speaker on theoecology and sustainable development. Read his CV here.

In February 2009 Gottfried gave the keynote remarks for the Creation Keepers Retreat held by the Environmental Stewardship Task Force of the Diocese of Atlanta. See the video of his remarks here.

“This Center will seek to find a way to integrate faith, practice, and understanding of environmental issues for our students.” - Dr. Robin Gottfried

Rick Sommer, Director of External Programs

Rick Sommer serves as the Managing Director of the Center for Religion and Environment. Sommer is a retired automotive manufacturing executive living in the Sewanee community. He has been active in the community since moving to Sewanee three years ago, including as a supporter of the University of the South, Otey Parrish, and St. Mary’s Sewanee Center for Spiritual Development. Sommer also serves as a commissioner on the Sewanee Utilities District board.

Sommer’s career includes experience at Ford Motor Co. and at Nissan, and as CEO at Automotive Industries and Citation Corp of Birmingham, AL. He has a degree in engineering from Brown University and a master’s in management from MIT.

Pamela DH Cochran, Coordinator

CochranPamela Cochran serves as Coordinator for the Center on Religion and Environment.  Pamela has her PhD in European and American Religious History.  Her research is focused on women in American religion.  She is the author of Evangelical Feminism: A History, along with a number of articles and essays.  She has taught at Bethel Seminary and at the University of Virginia for almost ten years and in the fall with be teaching in the religion department here at the University of the South.  Pamela also served as the Associate Director for the Center on Religion and Democracy at the University of Virginia, a Pew Charitable Trusts Center of Excellence.  Dr. Cochran moved to Sewanee with her family for her husband to attend seminary.  She is involved at Otey Parish and is on the board of the Parents Morning Out program at the seminary.  Pamela has been interested in issues of religion and the environment for a number of years.  She was involved with the local foods movement in Central Virginia.  To move here she left behind her small farm, on which she grew vegetables, herbs, fruit, flowers, and nuts.  She was pleased to find an active food and environmental movement awaiting her in Sewanee.

Michael Trent Thompson, director of the Organic Prayer Project

Michael Trent Thompson is the founder/ farmer of the Organic Prayer Project at The Farm at St. Mary’s Sewanee.  Actively involved in Faith-Farm-Food initiatives, Thompson weaves biodynamic farm practices with his vocation as an Oblate of St. Benedict. He is the founder of the Ecumenical Lay Associates of The Monastery of The Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia.

Thompson practices, shares and mentors on the Benedictine way of life; with a particular interest in lectio / scripto divina.  Additionally, Thompson develops seminars, workshops and retreats in gardening/farming as a spiritual practice; ora et labora.  He currently serves on the Commission for Spiritual Growth for the Diocese of Atlanta.  See the the profile of Michael on the Diocese of Atlanta's Pathways Journal at:

Joyce Wilding, program director for Opening the Book of Nature

Joyce Wilding serves on the Advisory Board of Center for Religion and Environment (CRE) at Sewanee and is Program Director for CRE’s Opening The Book Nature.  She is a Third Order Franciscan (TSSF), associate member Society of Ordained Scientists (SOSc), and spiritual retreat leader.  Joyce has extensive experience working at the intersection of environment and religion, from giving leadership to ENTREAT, the Renewal of Reverence series from 2004-7, and as the Province IV Environmental Ministry leader for twenty Episcopal dioceses in nine southern states from 2000 to 2009 and at Christ Church Cathedral in Nashville, TN from 1998-2008.   Joyce has been an active member of the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science (IRAS); the Episcopal Ecological Network National Steering Committee and the Episcopal Science, Technology & Faith Committee. Her “Water of Life” resources were posted on the 2009 Parliament of World’s Religions web pages.

Joyce also has extensive business experience, having served as a management consultant to several “green” companies and organization and having 25 years of leadership training.  Joyce enjoys singing in small choris, facilitating sacred body movement for liturgical services and retreats. She helped design many of the passive solar components of her home and promotes native garden and landscaping around her home and in middle TN.

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Sewanee: The University of the South735 University Ave, Sewanee, TN 37383931.598.100035.204826-85.921674