Profile

Karenna Gore

Karenna Gore

Director

Karenna Gore is the founder and director of the Center for Earth Ethics (CEE) at Union Theological Seminary. The Center for Earth Ethics bridges the worlds of religion, academia, policy and culture to discern and pursue the changes that are necessary to stop ecological destruction and create a society that values the long-term health of the whole. She is also an ex officio member of the faculty of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. Ms. Gore’s previous experience includes serving as director of Union Forum at Union Theological Seminary, legal work at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and in the legal center of Sanctuary for Families, and serving as director of Community Affairs for the Association to Benefit Children (ABC) . Currently she is serving on the board of ABC and Riverkeeper. She has also worked as a writer and is the author of Lighting the Way: Nine Women Who Changed Modern America. Ms. Gore is a graduate of Harvard College, Columbia Law School and Union Theological Seminary. She lives in New York City with her three children.

Karenna’s Videos

Ecological Justice – ‘Walk With Me’. Virginians and allies from the region walked with Union Hill, VA to demand environmental justice and a stop to the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley fracked gas pipelines. They were joined by William Barber III and Karenna Gore of the Center for Earth Ethics.

Religion and Climate Change: A Conversation with CEE Director, Karenna Gore and Berkley Center Director, Shaun Casey.

Karenna Gore moderates Council on Foreign Relations panel on Combating Climate Change. Jason Bordoff, Brenda Ekwurzel, and Kanta Kumari Rigaud analyze climate change and environmental management.

World Leaders Forum program featuring an address, ‘The Climate Sustainable Welfare Society: Is it the Model of the Future?’, by Ms. Sanna Marin, Prime Minister of the Republic of Finland followed by a question and answer session moderated by Karenna Gore.

From the Blog

Karenna Gore and Hildur Palsdottir on Reframing the Climate Crisis

  Landmark and Transition Town Port Washington presentation with Karenna Gore, founder and director of The Center for Earth Ethics. Moderated by Hildur Palsdottir. This program is a part of a five-part Conversations from Main Street Climate Action Series with the goal of introducing community-centered climate solutions while also promoting… Read more

Faith and Climate Crisis in the Biden Administration

In a Video Recorded for FÉ NO CLIMA, Center for Earth Ethics director Karenna Gore comments on the approximation between Faith and the Climate Crisis in the Biden Administration. The founder and director of the Center for Earth Ethics at the Union’s Theological Seminary in New York, Karenna Gore, believes that the… Read more

Some Thoughts on Inauguration Day 2021

Like so many others, I have deep and mixed emotions on this Inauguration Day. This awful chapter is coming to a close and there is a lot to celebrate about the incoming administration, but there is also wreckage upon wreckage to examine, and it goes all the way back to… Read more

Faith groups have a key role to play in reducing climate-linked violence

Originally published December 18th by Brian Lowe for Earthbeat: a project of National Catholic Reporter at NCR Online. *** By now it’s well understood that climate change leads to rising seas and rising temperatures. It is also increasingly linked to rising conflicts. In 2014, the Pentagon issued a major report that referred… Read more

2020 Virtual Faith-in-Action Awards: Karenna Gore Keynote Address

On October 22, 2020, the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy (ICRD) hosted its first ever Virtual Faith-in-Action Awards. Honoring Karenna Gore, Founder and Director of the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary, the event highlighted the important intersection of faith, climate, and stability. Watch ICRD President and… Read more

Faith Rally – Election Day Home Stretch!

WHAT TO WATCH: Feeling bruised, battered, or fatigued by this election season? Looking for a source of uplift down the home stretch to election day? Then, this webinar is for you. Three speakers rally our energy and direct our focus during a moment with so many profound implications for those… Read more

‘Forging an Earth Ethic’ – Video: Karenna Gore hosted by Charlemont Forum

Karenna Gore Director, Center for Earth Ethics Union Theological Seminary Forging an Earth Ethic in a Time of Crisis Hosted by Charlemont Forum of the Charlemont Federated Church – Affiliated with the United Church of Christ Watch the Complete Video HERE “The coronavirus pandemic has revealed injustices in the fabric of our… Read more

Ethical Call to Action on Climate Policy by Karenna Gore

Ethics is simply about right and wrong and as a field of thought, it is most powerful when a widely held, deep sense of right and wrong is out of step with both laws and social norms. That is the case with the climate crisis today and we need to… Read more

World Environment Day 2020 – Karenna Gore

Today is World Environment Day. Our nation is going through a painful reckoning with systemic racism and worsening economic inequity, so the “environment” can seem to be a lesser concern. But as many Native American and Black voices have pointed out, ecological, racial and economic issues have always been intertwined.… Read more

A Conversation with Kelly Brown Douglas and Karenna Gore: COVID-19 and the Environment

Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary hosted a Facebook Live conversation between Dean Kelly Brown Douglas and CEE Director, Karenna Gore on COVID 19 and the Environment. Karenna Gore has appeared in conversation with Kelly Brown Douglas on topics related to both Climate and Faith. In this series of… Read more

Q&A with Karenna

What led you to establish the Center for Earth Ethics?

The Center for Earth Ethics grew out of the groundbreaking Religions for the Earth conference held at Union Theological Seminary in September 2014, which brought together over 200 religious and spiritual leaders from around the world to reframe climate change as a moral issue and galvanize faith-based activism to solve it. In the wake of that historic gathering, it was clear that Union’s convening power, location, and social justice legacy made it an ideal center for generating effective dialogue about the moral dimensions of this crisis and also training people to be leaders in the transformative change we need to end it.

How do you envision the Center’s role in addressing the climate crisis and issues of environmental justice?

The Center for Earth Ethics bridges the worlds of religion, academia, politics and culture as we discern and pursue the changes that are necessary to stop ecological destruction and create a society that values life. We are committed to an inclusive and ground-up model of movement-building that seeks to make national and global development policy intelligible and accountable to those living on the frontlines of ecological destruction. We view leadership in environmental justice as critical to leadership on climate change. Our classes, workshops and public programs feature voices from her communities most affected by the climate crisis and we seek to make those voices heard in both the public square and the policy-making world.

You have done a lot of work with Indigenous communities – why is this work so important to you?

My experience planning the Religions for the Earth conference afforded me a crash course in interfaith dialogue in which I quickly became aware that indigenous traditions had often not been afforded the same weight in those venues. That had to change. Having been educated at Union Theological Seminary, I was aware of the relationship between colonization and the Church, and eager to explore the links between social and ecological issues, so the conversation about the oppression of Earth-honoring indigenous traditions flowed naturally. The voices of indigenous peoples were very strong and clear in calling our attention to their message about humanity’s relationship to the rest of the web of life on Earth. I consistently found that to be the most compelling aspect of the work, both in terms of theological reflection and in terms of practical application. Now we are very honored to have our Original Caretakers program as the cornerstone of the Center for Earth Ethics.

How do you understand the climate crisis and why do you think it’s important to frame it as an ethical issue?

I think the root cause of climate change is the economic development paradigm that values short term monetary gain (no matter how inequitable or destructive) over long term well-being of the whole. We must place value on the most sacred aspects of our lives—community, culture, clean air, nourishing food, and drinkable, fishable and swimmable waters—if we are going to protect them for future generations. Climate change is about more than science and economics, it is about morality, ethics and the very meaning of life.