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STM conference looks at common home

By Gertrude Rompré


SASKATOON — How do we transform our consciousness to care for our common home?

Dr. Michael Duggan explored this question at Beyond Silos: Prairie Views on Caring for our Common Home, a conference held March 11 - 12 at St. Thomas More College in Saskatoon.

Duggan is a professor of religious studies and holds the CWL Chair for Catholic Studies at St. Mary’s University in Calgary. He is also an STM alumnus.

The conference was designed to bring together speakers from diverse backgrounds to reflect on Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’.

Three themes from the encyclical were discussed: 1) Can technology save us? 2) How do we educate to care for our common home? 3) What does an ecology of daily life look like?

Speakers from different academic, cultural and religious perspectives modelled the type of dialogue called for by Pope Francis. Profound insights emerged in the process.

Dr. Philip Loring, from the U of S School of Environment and Sustainability, reminded participants that technology alone is not adequate to respond to the needs of the planet. He further agreed with Pope Francis’ assessment that environmental problems are intimately linked with social inequality and injustice.

Activist Erica Lee made the link between the environmental crisis and colonial violence, which continues today.

Dr. Michael Poellet drew parallels between Laudato Si’ and the thought of Naomi Klein, while Dr. MJ Barrett challenged listeners to question those discourses that keep us for connecting to the earth.

Dr. Nettie Wiebe wove together insights from her identity as woman, a farmer, a Mennonite and an ethicist and challenged listeners to recognize the regenerative force of women.

Other speakers throughout the weekend included Dr. Chris Hrynkow, Janelle Delorme, Dr. Neil Alexander, Michael Carten and Sister Judy Schachtel, SMS.

The Beyond Silos conference was sponsored by the Dubé Chair for Catholic Studies at St. Thomas More College.

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