Center for Respect of Life and Environment

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Center for Respect of Life and Environment

Formed in 1986, the Center for Respect of Life and Environment (CRLE) is a nonprofit group based in Washington, D.C., that works to promote humane and environmental ethics , particularly within the academic and religious communities with an emphasis on the links between ecology , spirituality, and sustainability.

CRLE describes itself as being committed to "encourage the well-being of life and living systemsplant, animal, and human relationships..." The work of the Center is "to awaken the public's ecological sensibilities, and to transform lifestyles, institutional practices, and social policies to support the community of life..." In order to accomplish these goals, CRLE sponsors conferences of professionals and experts in various fields and puts out a variety of publications, including a quarterly journal, Earth Ethics.

Through workshops and conferences, CRLE's Higher Education Project brings together educators from various institutions to discuss greening policies. The Center's Greening of Academia program works with colleges and universities to make the academic curricula, food services, and other campus policies "ecologically sound, socially just, and humane." CRLE also publishes a Green Guide to Higher Education, which describes the availability and ecological orientation of courses at various institutions of higher learning.

The Center's Religion in the Ecological Age program focuses on "ecospirituality," stressing that today's religious leaders and institutions must take the responsibility for addressing the issues of environmental justice, the human population explosion, over-consumption of natural resources , and other environmental problems that threaten the wellbeing of the natural environment and of the humans and wildlife dependent on it. CRLE sponsors conferences and publications on such issues, including a series of international conferences in Assisi, Italy (home of St. Francis of Assisi, the thirteenth century lover of animals and patron saint of nature ).

Fundamental to the Center's mission was the creation of an Earth Charter . The Charter was approved by the Earth Charter Commission in 2000 and hopefully will be backed by the United Nations in 2002. It will "prescribe new norms for state and interstate behavior needed to maintain livelihoods and life on our shared planet." CRLE says that the main purpose of the Earth Charter is to "create a 'soft law' document that sets forth the fundamental principles of this emerging new ethics, principles that include respect for human rights, peace, economic equity, environmental protection and sustainable living... It is hoped that the Charter will become a universal code of conduct for states and people..."

Other activities of the Global Earth Ethic project include sponsoring conferences and publications focusing on ethics as they relate to agriculture, development, the environment, and "the appropriate use of animals in research, education, and agriculture..." This effort to raise consciousness includes a three-year project focused on establishing a new principle for agriculture explained in the "Soul of Agriculture: a Production Ethic for the 21st Century."

CRLE's Sustainable Livelihoods in Sustainable Communities program works with United Nations agencies and other regional and international organizations to promote environmentally sustainable developmental and agricultural practices through publications, conferences and meetings, with particular emphasis on indigenous peoples and rural communities.

CRLE's quarterly journal, Earth Ethics, offers book reviews and a calendar of upcoming events, and it provides a forum for scholarly and provocative feature articles discussing and debating sustainability and other environmental topics as they affect the fields of religion, agriculture, education, business, and the arts, often "challenging current economic and developmental practices."

The Center is affiliated with and supported by the Humane Society of the United States , the nation's largest animal protection organization.

[Lewis G. Regenstein ]



Fox, M.W. The Boundless Circle: Caring for Creatures and Creation. Wheaton, IL: Quest Books, 1996.


Earth Ethics. Washington, D.C.: Center for the Respect for Life and Environment.


Center for Respect of Life and Environment, 2100 L Street, NW, Washington, D.C. USA 20037 (202) 778-6133, Fax: (202) 778-6138, Email: [email protected], <>

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