IR, CTRSE host environmental lecture series and research forum

The Institute of Religion and the Center for Theology, Religious Studies, and Ethics of the University of Santo Tomas with the University of Fribourg held the 10th Archbishop Leonardo Legaspi, O.P. Lecture Series and Saliksikan on November 13, 2023.

Themed “Cultivating Global Citizenship within the Framework of Caring for Creation,” the hybrid event heard speakers from the Dominican University Ibadan, Nigeria; University of Fribourg, Switzerland; and University of Santo Tomas, Manila.

Prof. Joel C. Sagut, Ph.D., the Director of UST’s Center for Theology, Religious Studies, and Ethics, delivered a talk that focused on the “unique place of the human person in God’s creation.” In his presentation, Sagut states that man’s God-given “position of authority, royal mission, and priesthood entails a heavy responsibility of serving and working for those entrusted to (his) care.”

Prof. Rey Donne S. Papa, Ph.D. dealt with the topic of integral ecology citing research findings from the UST College of Science where he serves as Dean. “Man was given the faculties to care for creation,” Papa said, “and those faculties need harnessing for communities to live the Church’s call for integral ecology,” he added.

Prof. Dr. Helmut Zander from the University of Fribourg underscores the realities in finding a solution to the problems surrounding our environment. He concludes that the most we can do is to increase our perception of the ecological crisis we are facing. Zander cited realizing ways globalization affects countries like Nigeria, Switzerland, and the Philippines with unique beliefs, traditions, and socio-cultural contexts. Reducing such complexities is a clear goal, but reducing complexities necessitates acknowledgment and acceptance, he concluded.

Speaking on “Ecological Challenges: Intersectionality of Plastics and Climate Change,” Prof. Arlen Ancheta, Ph.D. of the UST Faculty of Arts and Letters and the Research Center for Social Science and Education showed ways by which plastic has compromised the natural environment and human health. Ancheta urges creative, critical, and holistic thinking so that communities can identify opportunities and develop strategies to address the abusive use of plastic as well as the impacts of climate change. 

Dominican Friar Hans Ulrich Steymans from the University of Fribourg presented the writings of Catholic eco-theologians advocating care for creation, including Sean McDonagh, SCC, and Dawn M. Nothwehr, OSF. Biblical studies on the environment were also cited like the works of Norman C. Habel and Niels Henrik Gregersen.

Dominican Friar Fr. Dokun Oyeshola from the University of Ibadan in his talk titled, “Effects of Corruption and Addressing Climate Change in Nigeria,” discussed the effects of corruption as it halts mitigation measures to address climate change. He also called upon the Church to work vigorously to impact on the morality of global politics. “The Church must work vigorously in upholding the planet’s heritage as a gift to all human beings,” he emphasized.

Prof. Ivo Wallimann-Heimer from the University of Fribourg finally discussed “Injustice in Renewable Energy Transmission” where he outlined the challenges posed by government-sponsored moves towards renewable energy generation and consumption. On community participation, the scholar favored substantial equality where individuals are given access to education, information, and a fair share of economic resources. On the decision-making end, however, Wallimann-Heimer suggested that all those affected by environmental risks must be involved in making meaningful decisions.

The Saliksikan and Archbishop Leonardo Legaspi, O.P. Lecture Series were jointly conceived as a platform for intellectual discussions on themes affecting the human person’s integral development.

This year’s event coincided with the “Symposium on Global Catholicism: Ecology and Climate Change” organized by CoMIF or the Collaboration of Manila, Ibadan, and Fribourg. 

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