Pope Francis and the Environment: Why His New Climate Encyclical Matters

Event description: 

Panel on the Papal Encyclical

April 8, 2015

5:30pm, followed by a reception

Yale University
Linsly Chittenden Hall
63 High Street
New Haven, CT

This event will be broadcast via livestream.

Sponsored by Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies
and Yale Divinity School
with the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale

“Pope Francis and the Environment: Yale Examines Historic Climate Encyclical”

By Kevin Dennehy
Yale School Forestry & Environmental Studies
March 11, 2015

On April 8, Yale will host a panel discussion on how Pope Francis’s upcoming encyclical on the environment could transform the global climate debate for Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

This summer Pope Francis is expected to issue a rare Papal Encyclical on the environment in which he is expected to declare climate action a moral imperative for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics. The encyclical — or “papal letter” — will be the first in the church’s history that addresses environmental issues specifically.

At Yale next month, a panel of experts from across several disciplines will discuss the potential impacts of this event — and how it might transform the global climate debate for Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

The panel event, “Pope Francis and the Environment: Why His New Climate Encyclical Matters,” will be held at 5:30 p.m. April 8 in Linsly Chittenden Hall, 63 High Street, New Haven.

The Pope’s announcement will come before the next round of UN climate talks in Paris in December. He is also expected to deliver unprecedented addresses on the environment to the UN and the U.S. Congress in September.

This encyclical represents one of the most important documents on the moral implications of the damage we are doing to our planet at an extremely significant moment,” said Mary Evelyn Tucker, a senior lecturer research scholar at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES) and the Yale Divinity School. “It will have profound implications in terms of environmental justice for the poor and those whose lives will be disrupted by this ecological crisis.”

During the event, which will be chaired by John Grim of F&ES and the Yale Divinity School, six Yale-affiliated experts will address the implications of the encyclical from their disciplinary perspectives, followed by a discussion with the audience.

The panelists include:

Science: Peter Crane, Dean, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES)
Ethics: Margaret Farley, Yale Divinity School (YDS), Emeritus
Religion: Mary Evelyn Tucker, Forum on Religion & Ecology, F&ES, YDS
Conservation: Dekila Chungyalpa, World Wildlife Fund
Law: Douglas Kysar, Yale Law School

Gregory Sterling, Dean of the Yale Divinity School, will make concluding comments.

The event will be broadcast via livestream.

– Kevin Dennehy kevin.dennehy@yale.edu 203 436-4842

Panelist Bios:

John Grim is a Senior Lecturer and Research Scholar at Yale University, where he has appointments in the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies as well as the Divinity School and the Department of Religious Studies. He teaches courses in Native American and Indigenous religions and ecology and, along with Mary Evelyn Tucker, has initiated a series of hybrid courses in world religions and ecology. He has undertaken fieldwork with the Crow/Apsaalooke people of Montana and Salish people of Washington State. With Mary Evelyn Tucker, he has directed a 10 conference series and a book project at Harvard on “World Religions and Ecology.” He is co-director of the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale.

Peter Crane is Dean of F&ES. His work focuses on the diversity of plant life, including its origin and fossil history, current status, and conservation and use. From 1992 to 1999 he was director of the Field Museum in Chicago. In that role, he established the Office of Environmental and Conservation Programs and the Center for Cultural Understanding and Change, which today make up the Division of Environment, Culture, and Conservation (ECCo). From 1999 to 2006 he was director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, one of the largest and most influential botanical gardens in the world. In 2004, he was knighted in the U.K. for services to horticulture and conservation. He was recently awarded the International Prize for Biology administered by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) for his work on the evolutionary history of plants.

Margaret Farley is Gilbert L. Stark Professor Emerita of Christian Ethics at Yale Divinity School. She is the author or co-editor of eight books, and has published more than 200 articles and chapters of books on topics of ethical methodology, medical ethics, sexual ethics, social ethics, historical theological ethics, ethics and spirituality, justice and HIV/AIDS. She is the recipient of 13 honorary degrees and a variety of fellowships and awards. She was a founding member of Yale-New Haven Hospital’s Bioethics Committee; and she served for eight years as Co-director of the Yale University Interdisciplinary Bioethics Center. She was Director of Yale Divinity School’s Women’s Initiative: Gender, Faith, and Responses to HIV/AIDS in Africa. She is past president of both the Society of Christian Ethics and the Catholic Theological Society of America.

Mary Evelyn Tucker teaches in a joint MA program between the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and the Yale Divinity School. She is co-director of the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale. Along with John Grim, she has organized a series of 10 conferences on World Religions and Ecology at Harvard. They are also series editors for the volumes from the conferences from Harvard University Press. She is co-author, with John Grim, of Ecology and Religion (Island Press, 2014). She served on the International Earth Charter Drafting Committee and was a member of the Earth Charter International Council. In 2011 Tucker completed the Journey of the Universe with Brian Swimme, which includes a book from Yale University Press, an Emmy award winning film on PBS and Netflix, and an educational series of 20 interviews.

Dekila Chungyalpa is the Dorothy S. McCluskey Visiting Fellow in Conservation at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. She founded and directed the Sacred Earth Program at the World Wildlife Fund, helping WWF develop partnerships with faith leaders and institutions in order to protect biodiversity, natural resources and environmental services. Prior to creating the Sacred Earth program, Dekila spent six years leading WWF’s efforts in the Mekong region on large-scale strategies for hydropower and climate change and five years designing and managing community-based conservation projects with WWF’s Eastern Himalayas program.

Doug Kysar is the Joseph M. Field ’55 Professor of Law at Yale Law School. His teaching and research areas include torts, environmental law, and risk regulation. He has published articles on a wide array of environmental law and tort law topics, and is co-author of a leading casebook, The Torts Process, with James A. Henderson, Jr., Richard N. Pearson & John A. Siliciano. His book, Regulating from Nowhere: Environmental Law and the Search for Objectivity (YUP 2010), seeks to reinvigorate environmental law and policy by offering novel theoretical insights on cost-benefit analysis, the precautionary principle, and sustainable development.

Gregory E. Sterling is the Reverend Henry L. Slack Dean of Yale Divinity School and Lillian Claus Professor of New Testament. Dean Sterling is a New Testament scholar with a specialty in Hellenistic Judaism. He assumed the deanship in 2012 after more than two decades at the University of Notre Dame, where he served in several capacities at the College of Arts and Letters before becoming the first dean of the independent Graduate School. Dean Sterling is the author of several books and more than fifty-five scholarly articles and essays. A Churches of Christ minister, Dean Sterling has held numerous leadership positions in the Society of Biblical Literature, the Studiorum Novi Societas, and the Catholic Biblical Association.


Further Resources:

Frequently Asked Questions on the Papal Encyclical


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