Professor Michael S Northcott (BA MA PhD)

Professor Emeritus


Michael S. Northcott was Professor of Ethics at New College, University of Edinburgh from 2007 until 2017 where he also served as Lecturer and Reader from 1989. He became Professor Emeritus in April 2018. He taught at Seminari Theologi Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur from 1984-89 and was  Associate Professor of the Southeast Asia Graduate School of Theology from 1987. He was awarded the largest UK Government research grant in the history of New College by the AHRC and BBSRC on the topic ‘Ancestral Time: Engaging the Cultural and Spiritual Presence of the Past to Promote a Sustainable Future.’ The grant funded a team of eight researchers to study ecological engagements, and temporal perspectives, of faith-based communities in Scotland and the UK. The Church of Scotland and Ecocongregation Scotland were partners in the project. The results were published in 16 peer reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and books, including the monograph Place Ecology and the Sacred and recorded on Researchfish. He won a research grant from the University of Heidelberg to serve as full time Guest Professor in the Faculty of Theology in 2018. In 2019 he was appointed Guest Professor in the Indonesian Consortium of Religious Studies, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. From 2019 he was also appointed Guest Professor in the Evangelical Faculty of Theology, Leuven, Belgium.

Professor Northcott conducts research, and teaches and supervises PhD students at the Indonesian Consortium of Religious Studies at the Graduate School of Universitas Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.



Research summary

Michael Northcott conducts research in ecological sustainability and religious ethics, in political and economic theory and theology, in Southeast Asian studies, and in bioethics. His full publication record can be accessed online. His research publications are archived at Edinburgh Research Explorer under ‘Michael Northcott’.


His published papers in the last five years include:

‘Creation and Environment.’ In Simon Oliver (ed.) Oxford Handbook of Creation (Oxford University Press, forthcoming).

‘Traditions and Ecology.’ In Alexander J. W. Hampton and Douglas Hedley (eds.) Cambridge Companion to Religion and the Environment in the West, (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming).

‘Anthropocenic Journeys’ in Clayton Crockett and Catherine Keller (eds.), Political Theology on Edge (Fordham University Press, forthcoming).

‘Fittingness and Biodiversity: Biocultural Theory and Ethics as Praxis.’ In Michael S. Northcott and Steven C. van den Heuvel (eds.) Fittingness and Environmental Ethics: Philosophical, Theological and Applied Perspectives, (Routledge, forthcoming).

‘Religion and Ecology in Indonesia After Covid-19.’ In Zainal Bagir, Michael Northcott, and F J S Wijsen (eds.) Varieties of Religion and Ecology: Dispatches from Indonesia, (LIT Verlag 2021).

‘The Romantics, the English Lake District, and the Sacredness of High Land: Mountains as Hierophanic Places in the Origins of Environmentalism and Nature Conservation.’ In Hans-Günter Heimbrock (ed.) Contemporary Essays in Religion and Nature: Festschrift for Sigurd Bergmann, (Brill, 2021.)

‘Covid-19, Human Ecology, and the Ontological Turn to Gaia.’ In Alexander Hampton (ed.), Pandemic, Ecology and Theology (Routledge, 2020).

‘Hope and Ecology.’ In Steven van den Heuvel (ed.), Historical and Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Hope, (Springer, 2020).

‘Biofuel Energy, Ancestral Time, and the Destruction of Borneo: An Ethical Perspective.’ In Jonathan Chaplin and Marc Ozawa (eds.), Good Energy: The Economics and Ethics of Energy Sustainability (Cambridge University Press, 2019).

‘Political Economy and Political Theology.’ In William Cavanaugh and Peter Scott (eds.) Blackwell Companion to Political Theology, Second Edition (Blackwell, 2019).

‘Neoliberal (Mis)Management of Earthly Time and the Ethics of Climate Justice.’ In Colleen Murphy and Robert McKim (eds.) Climate Change and Its Impacts: Risks and Inequalities (Springer 2018).

‘My neighbour and the ecological crisis.’ In Richard Carter and Sam Wells (eds.), Who Is My Neighbour: The Global and Personal Challenge (SPCK 2018).

‘On going gently into the Anthropocene.’ In Celia Deane-Drummond, Sigurd Bergmann and Markus Vogt (eds.) Religion and the Anthropocene, (Cascade Books, 2017).

‘Climate change and Christian Ethics.’ In John Hart (ed.) Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Religion and Ecology (John Wiley, 2017).

‘Lynn White Jr. Right and Wrong: The Anti-Ecological Character of Latin Christianity, and the Pro-Ecological Turn of Protestantism.’ In Todd le Vasseur and Anna Peterson, (Eds.) Religion and Ecological Crisis: The “Lynn White Thesis” at 50 (Routledge, 2016) 61–74.

Recent media engagements include a video interview on his forthcoming book God and Gaia.

He is the author of  The Church and Secularisation: Urban Industrial Mission in Northeast England (Peter Lang 1989) The Environment and Christian Ethics (Cambridge University Press 1996),  Life After Debt: Christianity and Global Justice (SPCK and Christian Aid, 1999), An Angel Directs the Storm: Apocalyptic Religion and American Empire (IB Tauris, 2004), A Moral Climate: The Ethics of Global Warming  (Orbis Books, 2008), A Political Theology of Climate Change (Eerdmans 2013), Place Ecology and the Sacred: The Moral Geography of Sustainable Communities (Bloomsbury, 2015) and God and Gaia: Science, Religion and Ethics on a Living Planet  (Routledge, 2022).

He is co-editor of Fittingness and Environmental Ethics: Philosophical, Theological and Applied Perspectives, with Steven C. van den Heuvel (Routledge, 2022); Varieties of Religion and Ecology: Essays from Indonesia, with Zainal Bagir and Frans Wijsen, (LIT Verlag 2021); Systematic Theology and Climate Change, with Peter M. Scott (Routledge, 2015); Diversity and Dominion: Dialogues in Ecology, Ethics, and Theology, with Kyle Vanhoutan (Cascade Books, 2010); Theology After Darwin, with R. J. Berry (Authentic Media, 2009); and editor of Urban Theology: A Reader (Continuum, 1998).