Plenary Speakers

The Religion and Spirituality in Society Conference will feature plenary sessions by some of the world’s leading thinkers and innovators in the field, as well as numerous parallel presentations, by researchers and practitioners. This year's plenary speakers include:


Gary Dardner

Gary Gardner is Director of Publications at the Worldwatch Institute, an environmental research organization based in Washington, D.C. He has written on a broad range of sustainability issues, from cropland loss and water scarcity to malnutrition and bicycle use. Gary contributes regularly to Institute publications, including State of the World and Vital Signs. He is the author of the 2006 book Inspiring Progress: Religions' Contributions to Sustainable Development. In addition to his research and writing, Gary has done interviews in both English and Spanish with international media outlets including the BBC, Voice of America, National Public Radio, and the Los Angeles Times.

Before joining Worldwatch in 1994, Gary was project manager of the Soviet Nonproliferation Project, a research and training program run by the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California. There, he authored Nuclear Nonproliferation: A Primer, which is also published in Spanish and Russian. He has also developed training materials for the World Bank and for the Millennium Institute in Arlington, Virginia.

Gary holds Master's degrees in politics from Brandeis University and in public administration from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. He earned his bachelor's degree from Santa Clara University in California.


Laurel Kearns

Dr. Laurel Kearns is Associate Professor of Sociology and Religion and Environmental Studies at Drew Theological School and the Graduate Division of Religion. She received her M.A. and PhD in the Sociology of Religion from Emory University, and has researched, published and given talks around the globe on religion and environmentalism for over 20 years. In addition to helping found the Green Seminary Initiative, now hosted at Drew, she has been a board member of GreenFaith and a recipient of their Honoree award, and served on the American Academy of Religion sustainability task force. She currently serves on the Sustainability Committee of Drew University, the Religion and Ecology group of the AAR and the editorial board of Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture and Ecology. A list of her publications, in addition to EcoSpirit, co-edited with Catherine Keller, can be found on her website. She has contributed chapters to volumes such as The New Evangelical Social Engagement, the Oxford Handbook on Climate Change and Society, the Blackwell Companion to Modern Theology and their Companion to Religion and Social Justice, Religion in Environmental and Climate Change, God’s Earth is Sacred, Love God, Heal the Earth, Earth and Word, the Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature and The Spirit of Sustainability, as well as a many others.