Involving future generations more prominently in the debate on climate change and moving towards a new ethics of integral ecology were some of the proposals that emerged in the first webinar of the cycle organized by the network that makes up eight Catholic universities of various countries, in which the UC participates.
Reflecting on the role of universities in the face of the climate crisis affecting the world was the main objective of the webinar “Integral Ecology and the Working Future: Re-imagining University Education” ) , organized by the SACRU Alliance, made up of eight Catholic universities from various parts of the world, including UC.
The meeting, which is part of a cycle of three webinars and which was moderated by the Vice Chancellor for International Affairs of the Catholic University, Lilian Ferrer, considered among its speakers the emeritus professor of environmental studies at Oberlin College in the United States, David Orr, and Óscar Mateos, academic at the Ramon Llull Universityfrom Spain, who is also a researcher at the Global Codes center. The conversation was framed in the context of Catholic institutions that care about the common home and the well-being of people based on the principles of the encyclical Laudato Si ‘. This encyclical letter from Pope Francis on caring for the planet popularized the notion of integral ecology in an attempt to make visible the need for systemic solutions to the ecological crisis.
Professor Orr, who is also a prominent writer and promoter of ecological literacy, began the conversation by describing the difficult context facing humanity regarding global warming and population growth, a scenario that has been exacerbated by an economic model focused on extraction. “Our great-great-grandchildren would surely demand that we stop using our atmosphere as a garbage dump for all our fossil fuels, as well as greater care and preservation of our oceans, rivers, forests, soils and mountains,” Orr said in response to the expectations of generations to come.
Óscar Mateos, who is a delegate for the Sustainable Development Goals of the Ramon Llull University, highlighted that the COVID-19 pandemic has made it possible to “strengthen our perceptions regarding the urgency and magnitude of the challenges that lie ahead in this matter. environmental”. Likewise, he emphasized that “the pandemic will probably help us to be more aware and take action on what to do in the short and medium term in this area.”
“We must move towards a new ethics of integral ecology that can really merge this division that has existed until now between human society and nature” – Óscar Mateos, academic at the Ramon Llull University
Faced with the role of higher education institutions, Óscar Mateos highlighted the need to go beyond curricular exchange and collaborative work in the field of research, thus also promoting reflection on ethical issues and post-pandemic values, in addition to project possible ways to contribute to the global challenges posed by this scenario. “We must move towards a new ethics of integral ecology that can really merge this division that has existed until now between human society and nature,” said Mateos.
“The university is forced to think about how to create life-long learners, not just graduates” – David Orr, Oberlin College Professor Emeritus
Meanwhile, Orr said that “as human beings we are fast thinkers, but we are very slow to learn.” In this sense, he stressed that it is often assumed “wrongly that all knowledge is good and that it can be deployed at no cost, I believe that this should be reconsidered in a world of complex feedback loops, surprises, events and lapses. long time, regarding what we do and its consequences. ” In this scenario, the American academic argued that “the university is obliged to think about how to create apprentices for life, not just people who obtain a degree.”
Another issue that generated agreement between both experts had to do with the importance of giving a more leading role to the new generations in reflecting on the ecological crisis.
“We have to involve future generations, the students who are the ones who are suffering and worried about the effects of climate change. They have key elements from their own experience and from analysis and reflection for the construction of any future solution that needs to be up to date. center of the discussion, “said Mateos.
“The encyclical Laudato Si ‘offers us many answers, but also the possibility of raising questions, which allows us to prepare better citizens for the future” – Lilian Ferrer, Vice-Rector for International Affairs UC
For her part, the vice-rector for International Affairs UC, Lilian Ferrer, highlighted the importance of deepening the reflection on the encyclical Laudato Si ‘. “I think it offers us many answers, but also the possibility of raising questions, which allows us to prepare better citizens for the future.”
Cycle of webinars
The meeting was part of a cycle that will have its next conversation on June 15 at 6:30 p.m. and will include the participation of Professor Mary Evelyn Tucker from Yale University and academic Juan Carlos Muñoz, director of the Institute of Sustainable Development of the UC.
The webinars are intended for students, academics and all those who are interested in reflecting on universities in the current context. The SACRU Alliance is made up of the Australian Catholic University (Australia), Boston College (United States), the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), the Sophia University (Japan), the University Portuguese Catholic (Portugal), the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart (Italy) and the Ramon Llull University (Spain).
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