Barry McNamara  |  Published October 25, 2023

Thompson Lecture

This year’s talk, featuring University of Florida professor Bron Taylor, to explore connections between religion and nature.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – An engaging speaker who specializes in the connections between religion and nature will present Monmouth College’s annual Samuel M. Thompson Memorial Lecture.

BRON TAYLOR: The engaging speaker and University of Florida professor will deliver Monmouth's... BRON TAYLOR: The engaging speaker and University of Florida professor will deliver Monmouth's annual Samuel M. Thompson Memorial Lecture on Nov. 2.Bron Taylor, a professor of religion and environmental ethics at the University of Florida, will present the talk at 7 p.m. Nov. 2 in the Pattee Auditorium on the lower level of the Center for Science and Business. Titled “Religion, Nature, and the Future: Assessing Environmental Behavior from the World’s Predominant Religions to ‘Dark Green Religion,’” his talk is free and open to the public.

Monmouth philosophy professor Joshua Gentzke said Taylor is an “ideal” scholar to present the Thompson Lecture, which is held in memory of the legendary Sam Thompson, who taught philosophy at Monmouth for 46 years.

“Dr. Taylor is an engaged scholar,” said Gentzke, who joined the College’s faculty last year. “He not only studies ecological ethics, he’s also an activist who’s been involved in numerous public-facing projects. He’s consistently written in an enjoyable style that is accessible to non-specialists, which is something that is not to be taken for granted in our line of work. All of this makes him ideal for the Thompson Lecture. He’s a really interesting and engaging speaker.”

Climate change caused by humans has been accelerating, harming people, disrupting the environment, eroding biodiversity and, some worry, pointing toward an apocalyptic end of the world. Some religions have been blamed for promoting environmentally destructive behaviors, while other religions and cultural traditions are seen as offering hope.

“He’s consistently written in an enjoyable style that is accessible to non-specialists, which is something that is not to be taken for granted in our line of work. All of this makes him ideal for the Thompson Lecture. He’s a really interesting and engaging speaker.” Joshua Gentzke


Taylor’s research focuses on the connections between what people construe as “nature” and “religion,” and, especially, on the emotional and spiritual dimensions of environmental movements. He has also led and participated in a variety of international initiatives promoting the conservation of biological and cultural diversity.

Taylor has published dozens of articles in journals and books, including Dark Green Religion: Nature Spirituality and the Planetary Future, the award-winning Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature and Ecological Resistance Movements: the Global Emergence of Radical and Popular Environmentalism. His wide-ranging writings include analyses of surfing as “aquatic nature religion,” including as a chapter in Dark Green Religion.

“He’s quite prolific, and he’s produced work on a number of subjects, but he’s chiefly concerned with exploring the connections between religion, ecological ethics and the quest for more sustainable ways of living,” said Gentzke.

Taylor has led several scholarly initiatives, including the creation of an academic major in environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, a doctoral program in religion and nature at the University of Florida, and the International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture and its Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, which he edits.

In 2017, Taylor received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture. He is a Fellow of the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich, Germany.

The 2023 Thompson Lecture will be livestreamed on the College’s YouTube channel.

“The Thompson Lecturers bring the world to Monmouth. They help our students think about things that maybe they weren’t even aware existed.” Anne Mamary


“The Thompson Lecturers bring the world to Monmouth,” said philosophy professor Anne Mamary. “They help our students think about things that maybe they weren’t even aware existed.”

After graduating from Monmouth 99 years ago with a degree in English, Thompson earned a master’s degree and doctorate in philosophy from Princeton University. Most notable among his publications were two popular textbooks: A Modern Philosophy of Religion and The Nature of Philosophy. Thompson died in 1983.

The Thompson Lecture Series was made possible by his daughters, Jean Thompson Follett ’51 and Roberta Thompson Fassett ’56, and by the College’s Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies.

Listen Up …

Professors Anne Mamary and Joshua Gentzke preview the 33rd annual Samuel M. Thompson Lecture and discuss the College’s Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies.

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