SFU Faculty of Environment and Multifaith Centre welcome new Ecological Chaplain

November 06, 2023

Simon Fraser University’s Faculty of Environment, in a first of its kind partnership with the Multifaith Centre, have launched an Ecological Chaplaincy Pilot Project to explore the provision of pastoral and spiritual care to members of the SFU community experiencing anxiety and grief related to the climate and extinction crises.

They welcome Jason Brown as SFU’s first ecological chaplain to lead the project. Brown is already a valued member of the SFU community. He is a continuing lecturer with SFU’s Department of Global Humanities and has taught several courses with the Faculty of Environment, including environmental ethics and forest ecosystem management. He is also collaborating with the Faculty of Environment to put on public events and forums related to ecological grief and climate anxiety for SFU and the wider community.

In addition to receiving his joint master’s degrees in forestry and theology from Yale, he earned his PhD from the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability (IRES) at the University of British Columbia. Brown teaches courses within the ecological humanities and hosts workshops on contemplative ecology. Brown is also rounding out his credentials for this work by completing an interreligious chaplaincy certificate program from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkely, CA.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), signed at SFU’s Burnaby campus by Naomi Krogman and Seth Greenham, the director of the Multifaith Centre,  appoints Brown to the role of chaplain and outlines a partnership that allows SFU to support the needs of the community as it deals with climate and ecological distress, through a more pastoral approach.

“We know that the climate crisis is one of the most complex challenges of our time, and we know that students, faculty and staff struggle with related anxiety and grief. I’m hopeful that this Ecological Chaplaincy Pilot Project will help to support our community in an innovative way,” says Naomi Krogman, dean of SFU’s Faculty of Environment. “This partnership also aligns well with SFU What’s Next, and its goal to enhance the SFU experience.”

Seth Greenham said, “We are excited to partner in this pilot project with Jason Brown and the Faculty of Environment. Our hope is to provide care to the growing student demographic of those experiencing grief and anxiety due to the climate crisis.”

As an ecological chaplain, Brown will engage in inter-faith dialogues and collaborate with other chaplains in the Multifaith Centre on topics of ecology, climate anxiety and ecological grief. However, much of his efforts will focus on connecting with SFU community members who identify as secular, non-religious or generally spiritual and who may not otherwise have access to, or be used to, seeking spiritual companionship or pastoral care.

"Facing grief, speaking our anxieties and wrestling with hope are gestures that ground us in a refusal to turn away from the wounded body of our Earth, the plight of impacted peoples and the survival of vulnerable creatures," says Brown. “I’m both excited and honoured to begin facilitating this necessary care as SFU’s first ecological chaplain. The climate crisis is unique and complex, and so should our approach to dealing with its emotional and spiritual impacts.”

Brown can be contacted at