In October 2014 the Center for the Study of World Religions installed 70 solar panels on its roof, capable of producing enough energy to cover 25 percent of the Center's current electricity needs. This initiative marks the embrace of new technology and the Center’s response to growing environmental concerns. It also fits harmoniously with the Center’s long sensitivity to the environment and interreligious commitments. The 1960 building itself was designed by the renowned architect Josep Sert, then Dean of Harvard’s School of Design, with an eye toward designing a space that enhanced natural light and, with the Center’s lovely courtyard, integrated open and natural space into a residential building.
Over the decades, the Center has sponsored many events with an environmental focus, most notably the conferences in the 1990s that led to the nine volumes comprising the series, Religions of the World and Ecology. This year, Center resident and junior fellow Munjed Murad, a first-year PhD student, has been organizing for the Center a year-long series of events on the theme, “Religions and Nature.”
So it was fitting that at 11am on the morning of November 19, 2014, a cold but gloriously bright and sunny day, Center staff, residents, key School staff involved in the panel installation, and friends of the Center gathered on the roof next to the solar panels, for a brief moment of celebration. It was also the occasion for interreligious reflection on the sun, so central to human existence and of such great symbolic importance for the religions of the world. Find here the texts recited and read aloud to mark the event.
Charles Anderson, the Center’s Assistant Director for Administration and Finance, spoke of the meaning of the solar panels and our interreligious celebration of them: “The installation of 70 solar panels leads the way, in this very first renewable energy installation on the Divinity School campus. It provides a catalyst for us, organically shedding light on the integral work each individual contributes to this community each and every day… The collaboration of dedicated and solution-oriented professionals at Harvard has brought this project – this dream – to life. We are grateful for their care and dedication to our mission and our individual and collective hope for a sustainable future. May the light always shine favorably and with care on those who grace the CSWR.”
Francis X. Clooney, S.J.
Director of the Center for the Study of World Religions