Spirituality, Religion, and One Health: Exploring the Connections Between Spiritual and Religious Belief Systems and their Contribution to Human, Animal, and Environmental Wellbeing

Emily Hirata

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis

Abstract

Religion and spirituality are integral to what it means to be human, influencing values and how we think, understand, and act. Given that the concept of One Health postulates interconnectedness between human, animal, and environmental wellbeing, this influence of religion and spirituality over human behaviours and beliefs has the potential to not only affect people, but also to structure the wellbeing other life around us. By taking an in-depth look at
how spirituality and religion affect relationships with the people, animals, and planet around us, this research seeks to explore the role faith systems play within One Health as a whole. Data was gathered through a literature review as well as through eight key informant interviews with faith-based leaders involved in One Health issues. Findings indicate strong linkages between religion, spirituality, and the wellbeing of humans, animals, and the environment. Nine
major themes were revealed, showcasing how One Health concepts are understood and can be integrated into religious and spiritual life: 1) spirituality as a deep sense of connection to something greater than oneself; 2) religion as the fundamental basis for how to relate to the world; 3) stewardship as a lifestyle of responsibility; 4) creation as valuable to God; 5) care and justice as God’s purpose for humanity; 6) the importance of languaging and appealing to value systems; 7) ensuring relevance and relatability; 8) credibility established by working from within; and 9) the potential of young people to mobilise action. These findings suggest that spirituality and religion are vital components of One Health, while highlighting the potential of working with faith leaders, spiritual concepts, and religious institutions on One Health issues. In summary, this research provides evidence that linking religious, spiritual, and One Health understandings and practices together may lead to more effective, sustainable, and relevant One health practice.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Edinburgh
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Cousquer, Glen, Supervisor
  • Boyd, Kenneth, Supervisor
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Religion
  • Spirituality
  • One Health
  • Faith Based Organisations

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