Roger S. Gottlieb is professor of philosophy at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the author or editor of twenty-one books and more than 150 articles on environmentalism, religious life, contemporary spirituality, political philosophy, ethics, the Holocaust, feminism, and disability. He is internationally known for his work as a leading analyst and exponent of religious environmentalism, for his passionate and moving account of spirituality in an age of environmental crisis, and for his innovative and humane description of the role of religion in a democratic society. He has given keynote addresses and endowed lectures at universities and public settings in the U.S. and Canada.
His two most recent books are Morality and the Environmental Crisis, a semi-finalist for the Siskiyou Prize for new environmental literature; and his first novel: The Sacrifice Zone, an adapted chapter of which was a featured short story in the online literary magazine The Stardust Review.
The Sacrifice Zone explores the intersections of environmental despair, environmental activism, heroin addiction and Buddhist meditation. It asks: how can we live with grace and love in the face of suffering we cannot cure in our families and our world?
Morality and the Environmental Crisis (Cambridge University Press, 2019) was called by environmental ethicist Larry Rasmussen “The best book on the subject” and political theorist Paul Wapner “a generous gem of a book”. Here Gottlieb describes the unprecedented moral predicament created by the environmental crisis: how to be a good person when our collective and individual actions contribute to immeasurable devastation and suffering.
Two of his earlier books received Nautilus Book Awards: the short story collection, Engaging Voices (for fiction) and Spirituality: What it Is and Why it Matters. As well, he received the Prophetic Witness Award from Massachusetts Interfaith Power and Light.
He has edited six academic book series, serves on the editorial boards of several academic journals, is contributing editor to Tikkun Magazine, and appeared online on Patheos, Huffington, Grist, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Real Clear Religion, and many others. Gottlieb’s writings have appeared in top academic journals such as The Journal of Philosophy, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Conservation Biology and Ethics; in popular publications such as E Magazine online, The Boston Globe, and Orion Afield; and in anthologies celebrating the best of Jewish writing, environmental ethics, religious life, spirituality, the Holocaust, and disability.
Widely respected for his unique range of interests, combination of personal and political passion, clarity of writing, and originality, he is probably the only American intellectual to be reviewed or interviewed in publications as disparate as San Francisco Chronicle, Environmental Ethics, The Boston Globe, Christianity Today, Philosophical Review, Journal of Harvard Divinity School, New Age Journal, Socialism and Democracy, Discover, Chronicle of Higher Education, Sierra Club Magazine, Shambhala Sun, and The American Prospect.
For many years Gottlieb has concentrated on the religious, spiritual, political and ethical dimensions of the environmental crisis. His anthology This Sacred Earth: Religion, Nature, Environment is known internationally as the first comprehensive collection on the topic. His 1999 book, A Spirituality of Resistance: Finding a Peaceful Heart and Protecting the Earth was called by Protestant theologian John Cobb “a true spiritual guide for our day,” and excerpted in Tikkun and Orion Afield. A Greener Faith: Religious Environmentalism and our Planet’s Future and The Oxford Handbook on Religion and Ecology, was highly praised by the heads of both the Sierra Club and the National Council of Churches. Gottlieb’s focus on the environmental crisis has also taken a fictional turn: Engaging Voices: Tales of Morality and Meaning in an Age of Global Warming, is a collection of related but distinct short stories exploring moral, political, intellectual, and spiritual dilemmas provoked by the environmental crisis; and also asks how, in the face of powerful emotions and deeply contested views, we can live and talk to each other.
Spirituality: What it is and Why it Matters (Oxford University Press, 2012), a unique account of spirituality from traditional religion to the present, reveals the common threads that join Mahayana Buddhism and Hasidic Judaism, the Sufi Rumi and the Catholic St. Thomas a Kempis, people of all faiths and those who are “spiritual but not religious.” Gottlieb argues that spirituality is the simple but extraordinarily difficult attempt to face life’s rigors and disappointments by becoming more mindful, accepting, grateful, compassionate, and lovingly connected to others. Spirituality includes insightful studies of spirituality’s relation to modern medicine, nature and the environmental crisis, and political activism.
Political and Spiritual: Essays on Religion, Environment, Disability, and Justice brings together Gottlieb’s most powerful essays on these and related themes: spiritual deep ecology, ethical theory, animal rights, the Holocaust, the environmental crisis, and the experience of disability, as well as new essays on the human meaning of technology, facing death, and a fascinating intellectual autobiography.
As a public speaker Gottlieb combines intense analytic intelligence, a personal and humorously engaging style, and an inspiring message of personal responsibility, social change, and spiritual vision. Audiences from universities, churches, synagogues, and community and environmental organizations have found him a riveting presenter whose message resonates long after his formal presentation is done and can lead people to act as well as think and feel.