May 21, 2021
In this episode, Wendy speaks with environmentalist Dekila Chungyalpa about her views of nature, the climate crisis, and her unique collaborations with faith leaders. Their conversation covers many topics, including:
- growing up in the Himalayas and being interconnected with nature;
- the dominance of dualistic thinking in the West, and the dangerous separations it creates;
- embracing a framework of interdependence;
- the role of indigenous wisdom in conservation;
- her own experience dealing with eco-anxiety;
- working with faith leaders to move the needle on environmental issues;
- weaving together Buddhist values and activism;
- bridging science and religion;
- and the need for compassion and community in facing the climate crisis.
Dekila Chungyalpa is the director of the Loka Initiative at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the Center for Healthy Minds. Its mission is to support faith-led environmental efforts locally and around the world through collaborations with faith leaders and religious institutions on environmental protection, sustainable development, and global health issues. Dekila also co-planned and will speak at Mind & Life’s Summer Research Institute on The Mind, the Human-Earth Connection, and the Climate Crisis in June 2021.
Prior to her current position, Dekila was the recipient of the McCluskey fellowship at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, and lectured and researched there. She also founded and directed Sacred Earth, an acclaimed faith-based conservation program at the World Wildlife Fund from 2009 to 2014. She was the WWF-US Director for the Greater Mekong Program for five years before that, and also worked for WWF in the Eastern Himalayas for five years. Dekila serves as the environmental adviser for His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, who is the head of the Karma Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism.
Website: Center for Healthy Minds faculty page
Website: Loka Initiative
- Essay, Center for Humans & Nature (2021): At the Center of All Things is Interdependence
- Opinion piece: Can religion help save the planet’s wildlife and environment?
- Khoryug – eco-monastic project across Buddhist monasteries and nunneries
- Article on Sacred Earth program (Yale School of the Environment)
- Mind & Life Summer Research Institute Speaker Series: The Mind, the Human-Earth Connection, and the Climate Crisis (Dekila co-planned and will present, June 6-11, 2021)