Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Spiritual Dryness in Non-Ordained Catholic Pastoral Workers
Religions 2016, 7(12), 141; doi:10.3390/rel7120141 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Background: We wondered whether “spiritual dryness” as a specific phase of “spiritual crisis” or insecurity is mostly a matter only of Catholic priests or can also be found in other pastoral professionals. Methods: In a cross-sectional survey, we measured the prevalence of spiritual
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Background: We wondered whether “spiritual dryness” as a specific phase of “spiritual crisis” or insecurity is mostly a matter only of Catholic priests or can also be found in other pastoral professionals. Methods: In a cross-sectional survey, we measured the prevalence of spiritual dryness in non-ordained Catholic pastoral workers, and identified relevant predictors. Results: In a sample of 3.277 pastoral workers, 50% would occasionally experience phases of spiritual dryness, while 13% experience it often or even regularly. There were no significant differences between women and men, professions, or age groups. The best predictors of spiritual dryness were low transcendence perception and a low sense of coherence (both are resources), as well as depressive symptoms and stress perception (both are demands or stressors), which would explain 41% of the variance. Self-efficacy expectation and social support were not among the significant predictors. Conclusion: Both the proportions and the main predictors are similar compared to Catholic priests. It is thus not the underlying profession or vocation and the related life situation or differences in social support, but predominantly specific perceptions, feelings, and attitudes that are related to the phenomenon of spiritual dryness—and these can be found in all pastoral professionals who seriously live their spirituality. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
A Cognitive Approach to Tantric Language
Religions 2016, 7(12), 139; doi:10.3390/rel7120139 -
Abstract
By applying the contemporary theories of schema, metonymy, metaphor, and conceptual blending, I argue in this paper that salient cognitive categories facilitate a deeper analysis of Tantric language. Tantras use a wide range of symbolic language expressed in terms of mantric speech and
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By applying the contemporary theories of schema, metonymy, metaphor, and conceptual blending, I argue in this paper that salient cognitive categories facilitate a deeper analysis of Tantric language. Tantras use a wide range of symbolic language expressed in terms of mantric speech and visual maṇḍalas, and Tantric texts relate the process of deciphering meaning with the surge of mystical experience. In this essay, I will focus on some distinctive varieties of Tantric language with a conviction that select cognitive tools facilitate coherent reading of these expressions. Mystical language broadly utilizes images and metaphors. Deciphering Tantric language should therefore also provide a framework for reading other varieties of mystical expressions across cultures. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Losing Touch: A Theology of Death for Michael Haneke’s Amour
Religions 2016, 7(12), 140; doi:10.3390/rel7120140 -
Abstract
This proposed theology of death for Michael Haneke’s Amour, a fraught but poignant piece of cinema, will employ Martin Heidegger’s existentialism to reframe the ethical structure of the film and apply a “lived theology” rejoinder to its perceived hopelessness. The proposal will
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This proposed theology of death for Michael Haneke’s Amour, a fraught but poignant piece of cinema, will employ Martin Heidegger’s existentialism to reframe the ethical structure of the film and apply a “lived theology” rejoinder to its perceived hopelessness. The proposal will address the question of ethics in relation to Haneke’s cinema, in particular his seemingly nihilistic perspective and confrontational style. To do so, it will revisit the film itself and examine the ways that Georges and Anne’s love is tested. Principally, we examine the film’s great question, which—in the filmmaker’s own words—is: “How do I cope with the suffering of a loved one?” With aid from the theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, this ‘lived theology’ proposal will attempt to give an account of love’s irrepressible strength in the midst of even astounding suffering. While Heidegger’s ethic of resoluteness calls for interiority and solitude, Bonhoeffer’s account of death more satisfactorily invokes a transcendent summons contained within our own pledges to loved ones. Such a theological reading of Haneke’s Amour will draw two distinct conclusions: first, the film exposes the superficiality of any hoped-for solitude or escape from a loved one’s death, and secondly, it demonstrates that the mutuality of authentic love entails impossible sacrifices. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
‘The Way of Our Streets’: Exploring the Urban Sacred in Three Australian Poems
Religions 2016, 7(12), 138; doi:10.3390/rel7120138 -
Abstract
This article examines three contemporary Australian poems that concern themselves with matters of the sacred within the modern Australian city. Noting that Australian poetry and the sacred have often been studied in terms of the landscape, the article approaches these poems as part
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This article examines three contemporary Australian poems that concern themselves with matters of the sacred within the modern Australian city. Noting that Australian poetry and the sacred have often been studied in terms of the landscape, the article approaches these poems as part of an undercurrent of spiritual or sacred writing that takes up urban Australian spaces as important and resonant sites. Through readings of Kevin Hart’s ‘Night Music’ (2008), Jill Jones’s ‘Where We Live’ (2007) and Benjamin Frater’s ‘Ourizen’ (2011), the article demonstrates the various ways that contemporary Australian spirituality is poetically expressed in cities such as Brisbane, Adelaide and Sydney. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Faith and Form on Screen
Religions 2016, 7(11), 130; doi:10.3390/rel7110130 -
Abstract
To understand any aspect of being-in-the-world in general or cinematic experience in particular, both reductionist and holistic approaches are needed. Psychological accounts can give us only functional explanations of human behaviour or responses to signifying artifacts such as art. To understand the significance
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To understand any aspect of being-in-the-world in general or cinematic experience in particular, both reductionist and holistic approaches are needed. Psychological accounts can give us only functional explanations of human behaviour or responses to signifying artifacts such as art. To understand the significance of these experiences the psychological must be complemented by a study on a level which may be termed spiritual. This line of thought is applied to analyses of Robert Bresson’s Pickpocket, starting from David Bordwell’s formalist and cognitive account of why many people experience this film as religious despite there being no explicit reference to religion. Paul Schrader’s analysis of the formal structure of this film in terms of his notion of transcendental style in film goes a step forward by explaining how the formal structure as he analyses it suggests a transcendental dimension which cannot be addressed directly. This approach connects in an illuminating way with Slavoj Žižek’s notions of the imaginary and the symbolic sphere. Bordwell’s approach, functioning on the psychological level, is basically reductionist, while Schrader’s, boosted with Žižek’s ideas as appropriated for the purposes of this article, is holistic and operative on the spiritual level. This two-tiered analysis reveals how cinematic form in Pickpocket serves as an indirect expression of faith. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Loving the Many in the One: Augustine and the Love of Finite Goods
Religions 2016, 7(11), 137; doi:10.3390/rel7110137 -
Abstract
This is an essay in comparative ethics within the Platonist tradition. Although the primary focus is on Augustine’s account of rightly ordered love of neighbor in De vera religione, it analyzes Augustine’s account of the love of finite goods by comparing it
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This is an essay in comparative ethics within the Platonist tradition. Although the primary focus is on Augustine’s account of rightly ordered love of neighbor in De vera religione, it analyzes Augustine’s account of the love of finite goods by comparing it with Plato’s grounding of the love of imperfect creatures within an ontological hierarchy in Symposium. Against the backdrop of the critique by modern readers that neither thinker’s teleological and hierarchical view of love allows for a real love of particular individuals, this essay will show how for Plato and Augustine alike, the love of the One—the Beautiful, for Plato, and God, for Augustine—conditions all other loves. Augustine’s ontological hierarchy of the one eternal God and the many created goods leads him to insist that the love of God, who alone is loved for his own sake, conditions the Christian’s love of neighbors whom she loves not for their own sake but for God’s. The Platonic ontology of Augustine’s theodicy, it will be argued, allows him to explain how use-love is a genuine expression of love for the neighbor in her particularity and yet remains subordinated to one’s highest love of God. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
The Potential of the Bi-Directional Gaze: A Call for Neuroscientific Research on the Simultaneous Activation of the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Nervous Systems through Tantric Practice
Religions 2016, 7(11), 132; doi:10.3390/rel7110132 -
Abstract
This paper is a call for the development of a neuroscientific research protocol for the study of the impact of Tantric practice on the autonomic nervous system. Tantric texts like Abhinavagupta’s Tantrāloka map out a complex meditative ritual system in which inward-gazing, apophatic,
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This paper is a call for the development of a neuroscientific research protocol for the study of the impact of Tantric practice on the autonomic nervous system. Tantric texts like Abhinavagupta’s Tantrāloka map out a complex meditative ritual system in which inward-gazing, apophatic, sense-denying contemplative practices are combined with outward-gazing, kataphatic sense-activating ritual practices. Abhinavagupta announces a culminating “bi-directional” state (pratimīlana-samādhi) as the highest natural state (sahaja-samādhi) in which the practitioner becomes a perfected yogi (siddhayogi). This state of maximized cognitive capacities, in which one’s inward gaze and outward world-engagement are held in balance, appears to be one in which the anabolic metabolic processes of the parasympathetic nervous system and the catabolic metabolic processes of the sympathetic nervous systems are simultaneously activated and integrated. Akin to secularized mindfulness and compassion training protocols like Emory’s CBCT, I propose the development of secularized “Tantric protocols” for the development of secular and tradition-specific methods for further exploring the potential of the human neurological system. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Transimmanence and the Im/possible Relationship between Eschatology and Transcendence
Religions 2016, 7(11), 135; doi:10.3390/rel7110135 -
Abstract
Although we live in a post-metaphysical age, there is a renewed interest in transcendence, especially at the intersection of philosophy, religion, and theology. There are several reasons for this: among others, the important link that the future (eschatology) has with the unknown or
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Although we live in a post-metaphysical age, there is a renewed interest in transcendence, especially at the intersection of philosophy, religion, and theology. There are several reasons for this: among others, the important link that the future (eschatology) has with the unknown or that which lies beyond (transcendence). In this article, this relation between eschatology and transcendence is explored by analysing different concepts of transcendence and their possible relations to the future. Jacques Derrida and Catharine Malabou’s concepts of the future are used to shed light on the link between eschatology and transcendence as “impossible”. Secondly, Jean-Luc Nancy’s concept of transimmanence is introduced, in an attempt to find such a possible link. A reconceptualisation of transcendence as transimmanence and a reconceptualisation of the future of eschatology as something “outside within”, facilitate a link between these terms, but the original or general meanings of these terms then become impossible. This outcome urges a rethinking of the meaning and role of transcendence, eschatology, and the future in our post-metaphysical age. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Spirituality in the Undergraduate Curricula of Nursing Schools in Portugal and São Paulo-Brazil
Religions 2016, 7(11), 134; doi:10.3390/rel7110134 -
Abstract
Spirituality is considered a dimension of nursing care, which is often recognized as being neglected, mainly due to a lack of education. Several studies have addressed nursing students’ perceptions and skills for providing spiritual care, but there is little evidence on how spirituality
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Spirituality is considered a dimension of nursing care, which is often recognized as being neglected, mainly due to a lack of education. Several studies have addressed nursing students’ perceptions and skills for providing spiritual care, but there is little evidence on how spirituality is addressed in undergraduate nursing curricula. This study comprised Portuguese and Brazilian nursing schools (from São Paulo) and describes how spirituality is addressed in undergraduate nursing curricula. It is descriptive and the survey research was performed in 2014–2015. The questionnaire was composed of closed and open-ended questions and was sent by e-mail. A total of 129 answers were obtained, mostly from Portugal. Results indicated that several curricular units include spirituality, although having different contents. The learning outcomes are consistent with improving nursing students’ integral education, developing the clinical reasoning regarding spirituality, and improving the assessment of the patient across the life span. Nevertheless, it seems that spirituality is poorly addressed in clinical practice. Few nursing schools have courses or curricular units specifically dealing with spirituality, but they do provide some form of teaching on the subject. No standard curriculum exists, but teachers believe that it is a very important subject that should be included in the courses taught. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
American Bishops and Religious Freedom: Legacy and Limits
Religions 2016, 7(11), 131; doi:10.3390/rel7110131 -
Abstract
This paper explores continuity and change in the American Catholic hierarchy’s promotion of and later reliance on religious freedom. With an analysis spanning more than 50 years, it first traces the pressures for reform that created the Declaration more than 50 years ago,
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This paper explores continuity and change in the American Catholic hierarchy’s promotion of and later reliance on religious freedom. With an analysis spanning more than 50 years, it first traces the pressures for reform that created the Declaration more than 50 years ago, demonstrating that American bishops were crucial actors in the Declaration’s existence and passage, and that this was the case because of the strong legitimacy pressures they were under as Roman Catholic leaders in a predominantly Protestant country. The paper then turns to a summary of how the Birth Control Mandate of the Affordable Care Act once again created pressures for legitimacy for the American Catholic hierarchy, pressures which were again articulated in terms of critiques of hypocrisy. It demonstrates that although the specific critique changed, accusations of hypocrisy remain central in discussions of the Catholic Church’s stance on the Birth Control Mandate in the Affordable Care Act. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Unpacking Donor Retention: Individual Monetary Giving to U.S.-Based Christian Faith-Related, International Nongovernmental Organizations
Religions 2016, 7(11), 133; doi:10.3390/rel7110133 -
Abstract
This article examines an important but relatively overlooked aspect in the field of international giving in the U.S.—individual monetary donations to Christian faith-related international nongovernmental organizations (INGOs)—and outlines the cognitive process influencing donors who choose to keep up their financial support to Christian
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This article examines an important but relatively overlooked aspect in the field of international giving in the U.S.—individual monetary donations to Christian faith-related international nongovernmental organizations (INGOs)—and outlines the cognitive process influencing donors who choose to keep up their financial support to Christian faith-related INGOs. The propositions forwarded in this article draw on existing literature on Christian giving to international causes, INGO management, donor retention and finally, the logic of self-perception to highlight how existing donors might evaluate their repeat giving decision. The more existing donors of Christian faith-related INGOs can identify themselves with the INGO’s identity—comprising its beliefs and values, its claims to legitimacy, and performance—the more likely it is for donors to be satisfied and decide to maintain a stable relationship with the specific INGO. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Beggar-Thy-Neighbour vs. Danube Basin Strategy: Habsburg Economic Networks in Interwar Europe
Religions 2016, 7(11), 129; doi:10.3390/rel7110129 -
Abstract
After the dissolution of the Habsburg Empire, leaders in successor states were eager to become economically independent from the former capital Vienna. They therefore quickly implemented a set of neomercantilistic measures, especially nationalization programs. Nevertheless, the 1920s saw a reestablishment of the common
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After the dissolution of the Habsburg Empire, leaders in successor states were eager to become economically independent from the former capital Vienna. They therefore quickly implemented a set of neomercantilistic measures, especially nationalization programs. Nevertheless, the 1920s saw a reestablishment of the common market in the former territories of the Habsburg Empire in terms of interregional trade and interlocking directorates, mainly because of the business strategy of international financial syndicates that were based on the traditional Viennese commercial relations with the successor states. The international credit of Jewish bankers like Louis Rothschild, Rudolf Sieghart, and Max Feilchenfeld and others mattered. After the “Big Bang” at Wall Street in 1929, the industrial holdings of the Viennese banks and the maturity problem (short-term borrowing, long-term lending) in their relations to East European debtors and Western financiers caused the Creditanstalt-crisis of 1931 and put an end to Vienna’s position as a financial hub in East Central Europe. However, even during the crisis of the 1930s, the share of the successor states in the bilateral balances of trade indicates path dependency on a smaller scale. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Revivalist Nationalism since World War II: From “Wake up, America!” to “Make America Great Again”
Religions 2016, 7(11), 128; doi:10.3390/rel7110128 -
Abstract
Between 1945 and 1980, evangelicals emerged as a key political constituency in American politics, helping to form the Religious Right and work for the election of Ronald Reagan and other conservative Republicans. This article argues that they embraced a distinctive type of revivalist
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Between 1945 and 1980, evangelicals emerged as a key political constituency in American politics, helping to form the Religious Right and work for the election of Ronald Reagan and other conservative Republicans. This article argues that they embraced a distinctive type of revivalist nationalism, centered around the mass revival. Case studies of Billy Graham, Bill Bright, Jerry Falwell, and Ronald Reagan offer a narrative of postwar revivalist nationalism and demonstrate that evangelicals renegotiated the relationship between personal salvation and national renewal during this period, facilitating their mass entry into partisan politics. Billy Graham presented in his early crusades an unsophisticated assumption that mass conversion would lead to national renewal. Later revivalists such as Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, sought to reorient revivalism toward directed political organization, leading in the 1970s to decreasing emphasis on personal conversion and increasing focus on the political process. By the 1980 presidential election, the Religious Right had completely abandoned the priority of personal conversion and sought instead to revive the “principles” of a Christian America. Ronald Reagan embodied this principle-oriented revival, and helped crystalize a revivalist nationalism that remains embedded in contemporary evangelical politics. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
The Liturgy of Life: Alexander Schmemann
Religions 2016, 7(11), 127; doi:10.3390/rel7110127 -
Abstract
The émigré Russian priest and theologian Alexander Schmemann (1921–1983) spent most of his career as a faculty member and dean of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary in Crestwood, New York, not far from New York City. For over 30 years, in lectures, teaching and
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The émigré Russian priest and theologian Alexander Schmemann (1921–1983) spent most of his career as a faculty member and dean of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary in Crestwood, New York, not far from New York City. For over 30 years, in lectures, teaching and numerous publications, he presented the distinctive vision of the Eastern Church, mostly unknown to Western Christians, in which the church’s liturgy was the primary source not only of its theology but of all other aspects of its life. I offer an overview of his work, with analysis and criticism and an assessment of his continuing significance. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperEditorial
Special Issue “International Conference of Spirituality in Healthcare. Sowing the Seeds”—Trinity College Dublin 2015
Religions 2016, 7(11), 126; doi:10.3390/rel7110126 -
Open AccessArticle
Anti-Muslim Sentiments and Violence: A Major Threat to Ethnic Reconciliation and Ethnic Harmony in Post-War Sri Lanka
Religions 2016, 7(10), 125; doi:10.3390/rel7100125 -
Abstract
Following the military defeat of LTTE terrorism in May 2009, the relationship between ethnic and religious groups in Sri Lanka became seriously fragmented as a result of intensified anti-minority sentiments and violence. Consequently, the ethnic Muslims (Moors) became the major target in this
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Following the military defeat of LTTE terrorism in May 2009, the relationship between ethnic and religious groups in Sri Lanka became seriously fragmented as a result of intensified anti-minority sentiments and violence. Consequently, the ethnic Muslims (Moors) became the major target in this conflict. The major objective of this study is to critically evaluate the nature and the impact of the anti-Muslim sentiments expressed and violence committed by the extreme nationalist forces during the process of ethnic reconciliation in post-war Sri Lanka. The findings of the study reveal that, with the end of civil war, Muslims have become “another other” and also the target of ethno-religious hatred and violence from the vigilante right-wing ethno-nationalist forces that claim to be protecting the Sinhala-Buddhist nation, race, and culture in Sri Lanka. These acts are perpetrated as part of their tactics aimed to consolidate a strong Sinhala-Buddhist nation—and motivated by the state. Furthermore, the recourse deficit and lack of autonomy within the organizational hierarchy of the Buddhist clergy have motivated the nationalist monks to engage in politics and promote a radical anti-minority rhetoric. This study recommends institutional and procedural reforms to guide and monitor the activities of religious organizations, parties, and movements, together with the teaching of religious tolerance, as the preconditions for ethnic reconciliation and ethnic harmony in post-war Sri Lanka. This study has used only secondary data, which are analyzed in a descriptive and interpretive manner. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Does Transnational Experience Constrain Religiosity? Korean Evangelical Women’s Discourse on LGBT Persons
Religions 2016, 7(10), 124; doi:10.3390/rel7100124 -
Abstract
A large literature studies the views and discourses of Western, and especially American, conservative Christians with respect to homosexuality; only a few examine the discourse of Christians in non-Western countries, and none focuses on non-Western Christians with advanced, overseas education and careers. This
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A large literature studies the views and discourses of Western, and especially American, conservative Christians with respect to homosexuality; only a few examine the discourse of Christians in non-Western countries, and none focuses on non-Western Christians with advanced, overseas education and careers. This paper examines the discourse of South Korean Evangelical women with overseas, educational or career experiences. I draw on 15 in-depth interviews with current and former members of a Seoul-based, Evangelical mega-church. Transnational, evangelical women show comparatively mild-minded and tolerant views toward homosexuality and LGBT persons. The women illustrated two pathways to reconcile their conflicting beliefs in conservative religion and human rights: first, the values of equity and meritocracy; and second, personal contacts with LGBT persons. This study suggests that for transnational migrants, traditional religiosity is challenged and constrained by sustained experiences in liberal, pluralistic societies. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
The Platonist Christianity of Marius Victorinus
Religions 2016, 7(10), 122; doi:10.3390/rel7100122 -
Abstract
Marius Victorinus is the first representative of Platonist Christianity in the Latin church whose works display knowledge of Plotinus and Porphyry. Scholarship prior to the work of Pierre Hadot in the mid-twentieth century tended to treat him as an isolated figure, ignored by
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Marius Victorinus is the first representative of Platonist Christianity in the Latin church whose works display knowledge of Plotinus and Porphyry. Scholarship prior to the work of Pierre Hadot in the mid-twentieth century tended to treat him as an isolated figure, ignored by later Latin Christians who knew better how to moderate their Platonist borrowings. Scholars since then have been more willing to see Victorinus as earnest Christian who let himself be guided by the community standards of the church as laid out in the biblical canon and creedal definitions. Recent work on Victorinus’ sources has shown him to be more eclectic in his use of philosophical sources than previously thought and for that reason more creative in formulating his Platonist–Christian synthesis. After reviewing important lines of development in scholarship on Victorinus, this article focuses on his Platonist-inspired teaching about the soul as expressed in the three genres of his Christian works: theological treatises, hymns, and scriptural commentaries. The consistent “insider” stance of Victorinus in all of these different genres of theological writings suggests that the extremely Platonist character of his theology, when considered in light of other early Christian thinkers, is a difference of degree and not kind. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
The Internal Consistency Reliability of the Katz-Francis Scale of Attitude toward Judaism among Australian Jews
Religions 2016, 7(10), 123; doi:10.3390/rel7100123 -
Abstract
The Katz-Francis Scale of Attitude toward Judaism was developed initially to extend among the Hebrew-speaking Jewish community in Israel a growing body of international research concerned to map the correlates, antecedents and consequences of individual differences in attitude toward religion as assessed by
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The Katz-Francis Scale of Attitude toward Judaism was developed initially to extend among the Hebrew-speaking Jewish community in Israel a growing body of international research concerned to map the correlates, antecedents and consequences of individual differences in attitude toward religion as assessed by the Francis Scale of Attitude toward Christianity. The present paper explored the internal consistency reliability and construct validity of the English translation of the Katz-Francis Scale of Attitude toward Judaism among 101 Australian Jews. On the basis of these data, this instrument is commended for application in further research. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Cultivating an Academy We Can Live With: The Humanities and Education for Sustainability1
Religions 2016, 7(10), 120; doi:10.3390/rel7100120 -
Abstract
Many facets of the university system in North America are fundamentally unsustainable, developing and perpetuating knowledge practices that not only do not sustain the biospheric conditions in which our species evolved, but actually defray them. This analysis proceeds in three ways: (a) highlights
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Many facets of the university system in North America are fundamentally unsustainable, developing and perpetuating knowledge practices that not only do not sustain the biospheric conditions in which our species evolved, but actually defray them. This analysis proceeds in three ways: (a) highlights the historical entanglement of religion and sustainability discourse and the now global concern over climate disruption; (b) it interrogates assumptions regarding whether, when, and to what extent scholars of religions should advance politically significant arguments; (c) explores problem-based learning and integrative curricular development, which may be fostered by focusing on complex wicked problems such as climate disruption. Full article