What is “Laudato Si”? First presented by Pope Francis – spiritual leader to the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics – to his faith-based cohort, it is a call to action addressed not only to Catholics, but to all people of the world. Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home raises the profile of the grave ecological crisis that humanity has created and issues a moral clarion call for urgent action to protect the earth and its inhabitants from ruin.
This short course provides an overview of the main themes and messages of Laudato Si’. No affiliation or prior familiarity with Catholic teaching is required, nor any prior knowledge of the sustainable development agenda. Students are guided through the basic structure of the Laudato Si’ message – diagnosis of the ecological crisis, an overview of its theological and philosophical underpinnings, evaluation of the human behavior at its root, the need for institutional solutions, and the call for personal action. Issued in the months leading up to adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement, Laudato Si’ can be read as a moral charter for sustainable development. It provides a firm ethical foundation for actions that need to be taken urgently at all levels – global, national, local and personal, too. This is what makes it so important.
This course is for:
Anyone new to the concept of sustainable development who wants to understand its importance and the rationale for their own personal commitment to its principles
Graduate students and advanced undergraduate students interested in a core principle in their study of sustainable development – the interplay of various stakeholders in achieving the agenda
Those in faith-based communities interested in the relationship between faith and action to protect the planet
Module 1: Pope Francis & the Encyclical
Cardinal Turkson, one of the chief architects of the encyclical, discusses the context in which Laudato Si’ was conceived and released. Importantly, Laudato Si’ was designed to address a broader audience - beyond the Catholic faithful – in all parts of the world and representing all belief structures.
Module 2: On Care for Our Common Home
Professor Jeffrey Sachs provides a discussion of the content covered in the first chapter of the Laudato Si’, titled “What is happening to our common home”. In this part of the encyclical, Pope Francis covers issues such as pollution and climate change, inequality, water, biodiversity loss, and the breakdown of society and the quality of human life. All are presented as integrated parts of a collective whole that need to be address in harmony.
Module 3: Theology, Philosophy & the Encyclical
Bishop Sorondo delves into the second chapter of the Pope’s encyclical. ‘The Gospel of Creation’, as the second encyclical chapter is entitled, provides the start for a broader discussion of the theological and philosophical foundation for the Laudato Si’.
Module 4: Human Roots of the Ecological Crisis
Dr. Anthony Annett illuminates the third section of the Pope’s encyclical, which highlights the roots of the existing crisis. The Pope discusses the many social and environmental challenges facing the planet as part of a single crisis, brought on by a corrupt collective mindset and singular focus on power and profit.
Module 5: Global, National & Local Solutions
Professor Sachs discusses the fifth chapter of the Pope’s encyclical, titled ‘Lines of Approach & Action’, looking at the global down to the local scale of aciton.
Module 6: International Ecological Conversion
Beyond the steps that humanity should take collectively to address the challenges of ‘Integral Ecology’, a personal transformation is also needed. Dr. William Vendley discusses this in the context of Ecological Conversion, a concept discussed throughout the Pope’s encyclical.
Jeffrey Sachs, Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, Dr. Anthony Annett and Dr. William Vendley