Ron Engel

Ron Engel Ron Engel is Professor Emeritus at Meadville Lombard Theological School (University of Chicago affiliate) and Research Fellow, The Center for Humans and Nature. He taught in the fields of religious social ethics, theology and ministry at Meadville Lombard 1964-2000. He also served as Lecturer in Ethics and Society at the Divinity School, University of Chicago 1977-2000, as a member of the Environmental Studies Faculty, The College, University of Chicago, and as Senior Research Fellow, Martin Marty Center for Religion and Public Life, Divinity School, 2006-2007. In 2001 he co-founded the Center for Humans and Nature, with offices in Chicago and New York, and until 2009 led the Center's North American Global Responsibilities program.

Ron helped pioneer the new academic fields of environmental ethics, history, and theology/philosophy. Through his work as co-director of the Program on Ecology, Justice, and Faith in the Chicago Association of Theological Schools, funded by the MacArthur Foundation, his participation in the Eco-justice Working Group of the National Council of Churches, and his courses, lectures and publications he contributed to the movement for eco-justice within the ecumenical and inter-faith religious community.

Ron became active in international work on behalf of global ethics in the course of research with the MAB program of Unesco. In 1984 he founded the multi-commissional Ethics Working Group in The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) and led the consultative process that established the primacy of ethics in the Second World Conservation Strategy, Caring for the Earth, published in 1990. He was a consultant to the drafting of the Draft International Covenant on Environment and Development, a core member of the international drafting committee for the Earth Charter, and co-chair of the Ethics Specialist Group of the Commission on Environmental Law for IUCN 2000-2005. He continues today as a member of the Biosphere Ethics Initiative and the Earth Democracy project of the Ethics Specialist Group of the Commission on Environmental Law, and member of the International Council of Environmental Law.

Ron is an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister and has been a strong advocate for public or community ministry in the Unitarian Universalist Association. He has written and lectured widely on the religious, ethical, and theological/philosophical dimensions of the democratic ecological faith in world history. With Neil Shadle in 1964 he co-founded the Unitarian Universalist Center for Urban Ministry and in 1966 the Neighborhood Commons, the first community-development corporation in Chicago which continues today as the largest minority-owned housing co-operative on the northside of Chicago. Ron was co-founder of Collegium: Association for Liberal Religious Studies, and in 1998 was recognized as its Distinguished Scholar.

In addition to numerous essays in books and journals, Ron is the author of Sacred Sands: The Struggle for Community in the Indiana Dunes, a history of the democratic political and religious origins of the science of ecology in the United States, which won the Meltzer National Book Award; and co-author of Justice, Ecology, and Christian Faith; and Governance for Sustainability: Issues, Challenges, Cases. He is a co-editor of Ethics of Environment and Development: Global Challenge, International Response; Democracy, Ecological Integrity and International Law; and The Earth Charter: A Framework for Global Governance.

Ron holds an A. B. from Johns Hopkins, a B.D. (with highest distinction) from Meadville Lombard, and an M.A. and Ph.D. (with distinction) from the Divinity School of the University of Chicago.

He is married to Joan Engel who holds a Ph.D. in creative writing, has served as a public school and university teacher, and is active in environmental organizations in northwest Indiana. They have two children, Mark Engel, a pediatric ophthamologist in Princeton, New Jersey, and Kirsten Engel, who teaches environmental law at the University of Arizona.


J. Ronald Engel, Ph.D.
Center for Humans and Nature
20 North Wacker Drive
Suite 1422
Chicago, IL 60606

Professor Emeritus
Meadville/Lombard Theological School
610 S. Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60605

P.O. Box 717
Beverly Shores
Indiana, USA, 46301
tel: (219-874-0067)