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Activity 3: Utopianism, Apocalyptism, and Environmentalism

Activity time: 20 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Print out Leader Resource 1 and cut the five quotes apart.
  • Arrange for five volunteers to read the quotes aloud.
  • Optional: Create your own list of utopian and apocalyptic characteristics of the environmentalist movement within Unitarian Universalism.

Description of Activity

Explain that this activity invites participants to explore how utopian and apocalyptic thought influence the contemporary environmental movement. Invite volunteers, one at a time, to read the quotes from Leader Resource 1, Environmentalism Quotes.

Lead a discussion using these questions:

  • What are some examples of apocalyptic thought in the environmental movement? How is apocalyptic language and imagery used to call our attention to concerns about the environment?
  • Both the apocalyptic environmentalist movement and religious apocalypticism point to events that will reorder human social structures. Yet, how do these two movements differ?
  • What are some examples of utopian thought in the environmental movement? How do calls to change our behavior in the present moment fit into the conversation about environmental issues?
  • Are the two perspectives at all compatible? Or are they mutually exclusive?
  • Are the categories of apocalyptic and utopian thought useful when thinking about the environmental movement? How? Or, why not?

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