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Professor’s New Book Focuses on Intersection of Buddhism, Environmental Issues

Thu, 07/23/2020 - 13:43pm | By: David Tisdale

Dr. Daniel CapperA new book by a faculty member in The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) School of Humanities examines the growing popularity of employing Buddhism’s tenets of interconnectedness and compassion to inform strategies for addressing threats to the environment, including climate change.

Roaming Free like a Deer: Buddhism and the Natural World, written by Dr. Dan Capper, professor of religion in USM’s Philosophy and Religion program, will appear in 2021 through Cornell University Press; an earlier release of the book was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. In Roaming Like a Free Deer, Dr. Capper puts forth a comprehensive, critical, and innovative examination of the theories, practices, and real-world results of Buddhist environmental ethics. In synthetically exploring lived ecological experiences across seven Buddhist worlds -- from ancient India to the contemporary United States – Dr. Capper discerns in Roaming Free Like a Deer attitudes and practices leading to beneficial ecological interactions from alternative orientations that may result in unsatisfying outcomes. He also clarifies Buddhist dietary practices, nature mystical rituals, and speculations about the potential spiritual capacities of animals.Deer crossing a field

“In order to create a better future in the battle with climate change, many people are turning to Buddhism, but do Buddhist values really lead to positive ecological change?” Dr. Capper said. “This is the first monograph to explore and answer these questions, and I hope readers will enjoy and be enlightened with the array of topics covered throughout the book.”

An accessible style for those concerned with and interested in how humans interact with the nonhuman environment, as well as its potential use in environmental studies, religious studies, cultural studies, or philosophical ethics, are other desired outcomes of Dr. Capper’s new book. Dr. Capper’s areas of research expertise include Buddhism, religion and the environment, and the social scientific study of religion; he teaches courses on these and other subjects, and has also led study abroad programs in Jamaica, Tibet, and India. For more information about his work at USM, visit https://www.usm.edu/faculty-directory/profile.php?id=1936377. Interested readers can download free excerpts from Dr. Capper’s research web site at: https://www.buddhismandspace.org/resources.