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Loyola University Chicago

Mission & Identity

Heartland-Delta Faculty Conversations 2012 - Concurrent Session Abstracts

Loyola University Chicago
Jesuit, Catholic and Green
Concurrent Session Abstracts


I.    Concurrent Sessions – Saturday Moring February 25
a.) Green Chemistry, An Introduction: What is it and How does it relate to sustainability?
      This presentation will provide several green chemistry definitions for the layperson and then explore the relationship of green chemistry to sustainability.  We will go over the 12 guiding principles of green chemistry.  Scientists make use of these principles to help them make greener processes and products.   We will finish the presentation with several examples that illustrate the application of green chemistry principles to current day processes and products.  These examples will include greener solvents for dry cleaning, renewable materials for plastics, compostable plastics, and biofuels from coffee grounds.
Kurt Birdwhistell, PhD
Department of Chemistry
Loyola University New Orleans

b.) Catholicism in a Reconstructed Universe: Challenges and Possibilities from the New Cosmology
      Our understanding of the physical universe has changed dramatically and rapidly in the past century, triggered in part by the insights of Albert Einstein and our ability to observe both the macro (through epochal advances in telescopes) and the micro (through particle separators).  Pioneering technologies in space provide us with a mirror image of planet Earth—seen now for the first time as a whole.  The environmental crisis has forced us to rethink the natural world and our place within it as an intricate, interdependent web of life.  The new physics, explorations of space, and the ecological dangers we now face combine to change our perception of reality, our self-understanding, and fundamental meanings and values.  This session will explore this shifting sense of the universe and the human, attempting to reconstruct Catholicism in response to current understandings.  The task here is both familiar to the evolution of our Catholic tradition and an extraordinary challenge to it.  We need to examine the morphing of Christianity with a new awareness, discovering what resources we can muster in addressing this new situation, and candidly facing the deficiencies that may, in fact, be contributing to the problem.  We are required now to listen to the voices of science, to attend to the dynamics of the natural world, and to discover a new modesty.  This session will outline some directions for a new correlation of Catholicism with the emergent paradigm of sustainability.
Robert A. Ludwig, PhD
Professor of Pastoral Theology
Director of the Institute of Pastoral Studies

c.) Education for Homecoming
      Teaching and researching at the intersection of African history, development, sustainability, and globalization for several years now, I have co-taught interdisciplinary courses four times. Through these experiences, I have come to see that one of the roots of our complex, systemic ecological, social and economic problems is the kind of education that is being offered worldwide, an education that is remarkably homogenous due to imperialism and, now, globalization. It is an education for leave-taking or upward mobility. Such an education usually requires leaving one’s hometown behind, rather than digging in and becoming native to a particular location (Jackson, Becoming Native to this Place, 1994; Orr, The Earth in Mind, 1994).

      As a result, we need a new vision of what purpose education might serve and how our institutions might align with this vision. As part of crafting that vision, I want to offer some key themes for educating for homecoming in its broadest sense, particularly within a Jesuit institution.  These themes—subsistence and the household—suggest that our education needs to provide students with opportunities to contemplate and experience two things. First, what might come of providing for some of their own needs rather than relying on the market for them and, second, taking up lives in their home communities or regions rather than in larger urban centers, other states, or other countries.
This breakout session would begin with a brief lecture on these themes and how they rose to the surface through our collective teaching about history, development and sustainability. The last half hour would provide a chance for fellow educators to respond to these ideas and to share their own experiences of key ideas for sustainability education.
Kathleen R. Smythe, PhD
Department of History
Xavier University

II. Concurrent Sessions – Saturday Afternoon February 25
a.) Ecological Sustainability and the Catholic Natural Law Heritage
      The natural law tradition has held a prominent and distinctive position in the history of Catholic theology and ethics.  It was grounded in ancient Stoic views about humanity living within a grand "cosmopolis" understood as the great community of the universe.  In the last few decades though the Church has employed natural law reasoning primarily to guide ethical thinking about sexual and medical matters.  Finnis and Grisez and others have called for a new natural law theory but it tends to concentrate attention on human reason though it does push for a universalist ethic.  However when many theologians and ethicists have turned away from the natural law tradition to ground ethics more closely on biblically based foundations many ecologists who worry about climate change, biodiversity loss, and habitat destruction hold that the natural law tradition may well be quite relevant for guiding our understanding today of our ecological responsibilities to preserve the community of creation and protect human communities who depend upon the wellbeing of the Earth's systems.
William French, PhD
Department of Theology
Loyola University Chicago

b.) Fossil Fuels, Nuclear Power, and Social Injustice: Building a Sustainable U.S. Energy Policy for the 21st Century
      The recent environmental disasters surrounding the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Blowout, as well as the Fukushima-Daiichi Nuclear Power Complex accident in Japan, represent yet another national wake-up call for the U.S. to heed the disaster lessons of the last 40 years, reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and nuclear power, and begin the transition to a clean and alternative energy policy. Far from the mythical claims of energy elites promising a "clean, abundant, and carbon-free" energy future, our present course is in fact exceedingly dangerous, expensive, inefficient, immoral, unnecessary--and most of all, unjust and unsustainable. Without an energy policy driven by ecological realities, resource limits, and a respect for the diversity of life on planet earth, our future will remain increasingly in question.
Anthony E. Ladd, Ph.D.
Professor of Sociology
Loyola University New Orleans

c.) Food and Food Justice in New Orleans: An Ignatian Honors First-Year Experience
      In October, 2011, New Orleans was simultaneously rated America’s “Best City for Foodies” and “Worst Food Desert.” The dichotomy is startling.  As director, my goal is a distinctively Ignatian and New Orleanian Honors Program; this colloquium engages first-year students mindfully with the rich culture of New Orleans, emphasizing social justice.  Engaging all their senses through service, field trips, reading and interdisciplinary discussion with faculty, students will use the framework of food to explore the city’s renewal in the wake of Katrina.

      Studying food –basic need, luxury item, economic force – raises issues of race, class, gender, economics, tradition, spirituality and culture in our city, while providing an important focus for Ignatian discernment: how do we redirect our energies away from our lower desires toward the fulfilment of a higher purpose in life?
Naomi Yavneh, PhD
Director, University Honors Program
Loyola University New Orleans

III. Concurrent Sessions – Sunday Morning February 26
a.) Incorporating Environmental Learning into a Liberal Arts College Curriculum
      Environmental problems arise from human behavior, use of technology, and over consumption; thus, solutions to such problems must come from all citizens, not just scientists.  In an effort to give students the necessary language to address environmental problems, our faculty agreed that environmental awareness should be added to our core curriculum.  Determining what such a course should include is a fine line between being too prescriptive or being too unfocused.  The global environmental awareness component for Regis College undergraduates is interdisciplinary and integrative by design.  Currently, faculty from many disciplines across the college design these courses, and a subcommittee of the College Core Curriculum Committee, headed by a global environmental awareness coordinator, approves these courses.  Faculty will discuss the process of designing their own courses that meet the global environmental awareness component, how the courses are assessed, and how the courses have contributed to sustainability action at our university.
Catherine Kleier, PhD
Director, Environmental Studies Program
Associate Professor of Biology
Regis University

b.) Creation Across the Curriculum
      This conversation will consider what the Catholic Creation tradition offers as a response to the “signs of our times,” the primacy and urgency of the Earth issue in our day.  Whereas much of the discussion about our current situation focuses on the critical situation in which we find ourselves and its consequences for ourselves and future generations, our Catholic tradition goes deeper into the issue, interpreting the Creation as a grace, a gift, a revelation of the Creator, the  Divine.  So our Catholic perspective brings something unique and significant to the discussion.  Obviously this has implications for what the Church needs to address in our times, for our Catholic Jesuit universities across the disciplines, and for the institutional character and mission of a university that identifies itself as Catholic and asserts that God is manifest in all things.  This conference offers an opportunity to refocus our mission and resources in bearing witness to the primacy and gift of Creation.  And to strategize as to how this witness is expressed in our rhetoric and deeds.  And in our educational efforts across the curriculum.

      The perspectives I will bring to this conference are informed by my own practice in developing a specialization in Religion and Ecology for the MPS degree at Loyola University New Orleans Institute for Ministry and participation in Loyola's undergraduate major and minor programs in Environmental Studies as a Religious Studies faculty member.  I also studied over some ten years with Thomas Berry and his influence informs my life and teaching.
Kathleen O’Gorman, PhD
Loyola Institute for Ministry
Loyola University New Orleans


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