Tuesday February 23, 2016

Everything is Connected

Internationally recognized theologians, ethicists, economists and scientists will discuss the vision of environmental interconnection in Pope Francis' encyclical 'Laudato Si' and his call to action to the world during an upcoming University of Dayton conference.

The conference — Everything is Connected: Teaching Pope Francis' "Integral Ecology"  — kicks off with a free, public talk by Ottmar Edenhofer, chief economist of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, at 6:45 p.m. Thursday, March 3, in the Kennedy Union ballroom. In addition to Pope Francis' encyclical, Edenhofer will discuss the recent United Nations Conference on Climate Change and the future of climate policy. Edenhofer also has served as a co-chair of Working Group III of the United Nations Environment Program and World Meteorological Organization Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The conference — March 3-5 — will explore topics such as humanity's role in creation; liturgy, spirituality and the environment; how the environment affects the poor; the science of climate change; and solutions to the climate crisis. It is free and open to the public, but Friday's lunch costs $10. Registration is required at the related link.

"Pope Francis has captured the world's attention with his spiritual and moral call to address the climate crisis in 'Laudato Si,'" said Vincent Miller, conference organizer and Gudorf Chair in Catholic Theology and Culture at the University of Dayton. "We are gathering leading scholars to discuss the details of Francis' religious teaching, to understand the science of the crisis we face and to sketch the actions and policies needed to respond. Our focus will be on equipping younger generations with the understanding and tools they need to face this challenge."

Speakers include Erin Lothes, an assistant professor of theology at the College of Saint Elizabeth who researches faith-based environmentalism and energy ethics; Elizabeth Groppe, a Xavier University theologian who sits on the Climate Change Task Force of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati; Daniel Castillo a theologian specializing in ecology at Loyola (Maryland) University; Douglas Christie, a professor of theology at Loyola Marymount University who studies the interface of ecology and Christian spirituality; Maria Teresa Dávila, who teaches Christian ethics and social justice at Andover Newton Theological School; Anthony Annett, an economist who is a climate change and sustainable development advisor at Columbia University's Earth Institute; and Daniel DiLeo, project manager of the Catholic Climate Covenant.

Presenters from the University of Dayton include Miller; Sandra Yocum, associate professor of religious studies, who researches theological dimensions of U.S. Catholic life; ecologist Sister Leanne Jablonski, S.M., Hanley Sustainability Institute scholar-in-residence for faith and environment and Marianist Environmental Education Center director; and physicist Bob Brecha, director of research for the University of Dayton Hanley Sustainability Institute.

The first Catholic university to divest from fossil fuels, the University of Dayton is a leader in advancing the national conversation around "Laudato Si," and has already sponsored an event to help connect the implications of the encyclical's theology with how organizations invest.

The November conference was geared toward helping organizations work through the process of divesting from fossil fuels and investing in renewable energy from the ethical, organizational, relational and financial perspectives in line with Pope Francis' climate encyclical.

The University's Hanley Sustainability Institute supported the November conference and is a sponsor of the upcoming conference. The Institute was established with a $12.5 million gift from the George and Amanda Hanley Foundation, to support the University's sustainability education initiatives. Through the Hanley Sustainability Institute, the University's current sustainability curricula and programs will be extended to prepare students for a growing demand for sustainability skills in the workplace, and for civic leadership on sustainability issues.

For more information, contact Shawn Robinson, associate director of media relations, at 937-229-3391 or srobinson@udayton.edu.

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