Creation Care, Climate Change, and Healthy Discourse in Christian Communities

November 17, 2022

This event was a collaboration of Upper House and The Loka Initiative.

A renowned scientist will bring research on the health effects of global environmental change. A theologian and leader of the Lausanne/World Evangelical Alliance Creation Care Network will bring biblical and international perspective. And an institutional leadership veteran and conflict resolution expert will bring strategic wisdom about ways to engage in challenging conversations. This unique event foregrounds science, the church, and caring communication, courtesy of a Loka Initiative program to constructively support church leaders and their communities to engage in creation care and climate activities.

You might be either curious or passionate about creation care. You might be a leader or member of a church trying to have meaningful, non-divisive conversations about climate change. The presentations and roundtable discussion at this event will approach the subject of creation care and climate change holistically, as well as bring forward conflict resolution tools to help us have the types of constructive conversations we long to have in this divisive time. We hope you will join us as we focus on a topic that touches all of us—spiritually, environmentally, and communally.


Jonathan Patz, MD, MPH, PhD, is the Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor and the John P. Holton Chair of Health and the Environment with appointments in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and the Department of Population Health Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. For 15 years, Patz served as a lead author for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (or IPCC)—the organization that shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore. He also co-­chaired the health expert panel of the U.S. National Assessment on Climate Change, a report mandated by the U.S. Congress. An elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, Patz is committed to connecting scientists and communities—and engaging with policymakers—to improve health for allHe has written more than 200 scientific papers with more than 100 peer-reviewed, a textbook addressing the health effects of global environmental change and co‐edited the five­‐volume Encyclopedia of Environmental Health (2011). Most recently, he co-edited “Climate Change and Public Health” (2015, Oxford University Press).

Dave Bookless, PhD, is the Director of Theology for A Rocha International. A Rocha is a global family of Christian organisations across more than 20 countries engaging in nature conservation, church engagement and environmental education. Bookless co-leads the global Lausanne / World Evangelical Alliance Creation Care Network and, as an ordained Anglican minister, serves in a multiethnic church in London, England. He is also on the Church of England’s Environment Working Group and the global Season of Creation Steering Committee. He has a PhD from Cambridge University on biblical theology and biodiversity conservation and has contributed to many books and articles. One of his books, Planetwise – Dare to Care for God’s World  (IVP, 2008) has been translated into multiple languages and is used as a basic biblical guide to creation care. Another, God Doesn’t Do Waste (IVP, 2010), tells the story of Dave and his family’s journey into caring for creation, leading to founding A Rocha UK.

Janel Curry, PhD, is a consultant in higher education whose background includes being Provost of Gordon College, as well as Byker Chair in Christian Perspectives on Political, Social, and Economic Thought and Professor of Geography and Environmental Studies at Calvin College. She holds a Ph.D. and Masters in Geography from the University of Minnesota.  She works with organizations to build mission-centered, forward-looking cultures that exhibit resilience in the midst of change. Curry is also trained in conflict resolution and mediation. Her background includes both research on leadership development and extensive cross-cultural research in environmental policy and on how religious worldviews impact views on environmental stewardship. She has held three Fulbright Fellowships and is the author of several books, and more than 60 peer reviewed articles and book chapters.


Dekila Chungyalpa is the founder and director of the Loka Initiative, a capacity building and outreach platform at the University of Wisconsin – Madison for faith leaders and culture keepers of Indigenous traditions who work on environmental and climate issues. Its mission is to support faith-led environmental and climate action efforts, locally and around the world, through collaborations on project design and management, capacity building, training, and media and public outreach. Dekila began her career in 2001 working on community-based conservation in the Himalayas and went on to work on climate adaptation and free flowing rivers in the Mekong region for the World Wildlife Fund in 2004. In 2008, she helped establish Khoryug, an association of over 50 Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and nunneries implementing environmental projects across the Himalayas. In 2009, Dekila founded and led WWF Sacred Earth, a 5-year pilot program that built partnerships with faith leaders and religious institutions towards conservation and climate results in the Amazon, East Africa, Himalayas, Mekong, and the United States. She received the prestigious Yale McCluskey Award in 2014 for her work and moved to the Yale School of Environmental Studies as an associate research scientist, where she researched, lectured and designed the prototype for what is now the Loka Initiative.

Dekila is originally from the Himalayan state of Sikkim in India and is of Bhutia origin. She is the daughter of the late Tsunma Dechen Zangmo, a Tibetan Buddhist nun and teacher. She speaks five languages: Sikkimese, Tibetan, Nepali, Hindi, and English.


Upper House · Creation Care, Climate Change, and Healthy Discourse in Christian Communities