Connecting Ecologies: Rehabilitating Our Common Home
"For many years it’s been clear that there is a choice to be made between modernization and ecologization, but what we didn’t realize before this encyclical is that “sister-mother-earth” is the best way of analyzing, of observing, of revolutionizing the current situation and the crisis we are in. The “integral ecology” proposed by Pope Francis is crucial for our time. I’m glad it will be receiving due attention in Oxford this December and will look forward to seeing the important theology that ensues.” (Bruno Latour)
Pope Francis’ recent encyclical, Laudato Si’ (24th May 2015), is timely. Never before in our history have we faced such daunting challenges as climate change, a rapidly expanding world population, biodiversity loss and the prospect of ensuring sustainability for future generations. To meet these challenges Laudato Si’ calls for a transformation in the way individuals and societies use and distribute the resources of the natural world. It argues that conversion is needed in our thinking about our world and the way we inhabit “our common home”. While the encyclical’s forthright and urgent messages were widely welcomed by politicians, academics and scientists alike, there exists considerable space for interdisciplinary debate on how best to formulate and implement the new societal models needed to tackle the problems that face us and to develop a new mode of ecological thinking.
Pope Francis’ analysis of the ecological crisis entailed an examination of the inter-relatedness of human and natural systems. The encyclical recognises that any resolution of the problems our planet is facing will require a new paradigm: one that asks for an integrative vision of the complexity of the world of which we are part. It requires that we recognise that our relationship to the Earth is essentially a moral one; it is both personal and social at the same time. This moral relationship of respect, care and justice must find expression in our technologies and in our political systems, especially those that shape our social, economic, cultural, psychic and spiritual lives.
Laudato Si’ calls for an alternative way of understanding the problems that we face, urging new solutions that go beyond short term instrumental pragmatisms, and instead respect the complex totality of our lived ecology. While science and new technologies will be part of the solutions that emerge, on their own they will never be sufficient. Indeed, our Western modes of science and technology may themselves be symptoms of the paradigm that needs to be left behind. Pope Francis offers a vision of an “integral ecology”; one that looks at the interplay of the whole human and natural eco-system.
Oxford Conference to be held at Campion Hall
Campion Hall will host a conference/colloquium in late 2017 that takes its lead from Laudato Si’ by facilitating a creative, inter-disciplinary community able to take forward its proposals.
The goal of the conference may be summed up as an exploration of the intellectual, scientific, cultural and theological-spiritual resources needed for “integral ecology”, one that is able to meet the troubling ecological situation that confronts us all in the twenty-first century. The aim is both to deepen our understanding of the questions posed in this encyclical and to map some ways to address the unique challenges posed by ecological issues. How do we think, create and live an “integral ecology”? What transformations and adaptations does it ask of us and at what levels?
Papers and discussions will explore ways of developing an integral ecology in practice as well as in theory. The method aims to be inter-disciplinary in the hope of critical, creative learning and knowledge exchange.
Although conference participants will have expertise in one or several of the fields mentioned above, it is hoped that this inter-disciplinary approach will allow for a generative learning exchange which must itself be part of the method central to an “integral ecology” approach.