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SPARC Festival Keynote Speaker

Erin LothesDr. Erin Lothes

Inspiring Sustainability: Giving Light to All in the House

Wednesday, April 22 at 12:30 p.m. in Knott Auditorium (and streaming in Laughlin Auditorium)

What does the Catholic tradition have to say about the environment?; Is caring for creation part of Catholic faith and ethics? In our contemporary context of climate change, there is increasing awareness of globalization: our ecological, economic, and social interconnections. These multiple interconnections also imply a "moral globalization," the awareness of how individual and collective choices impact everyone. Catholic social teaching emphasizes care of creation as an expression of its longstanding commitment to the poor, to just development, and to reverent stewardship of the abundant gifts of Creation.

Stewardship and sustainability involve intense challenges, however, and energy questions are among the most difficult questions facing global society. What specific guidelines does Catholic teaching offer those who make decisions about energy-- in other words, all of us? In conversation with scientists and energy experts, the emerging paradigm of Catholic energy ethics stresses the responsibility to promote fair access to clean energy for sustainable development and to account for the social cost of energy.

However, guidelines are only useful if people choose to act upon them. A potentially influential sector in society is the faith-based environmental movement. Faith-based environmentalists are an important voice in conversations about climate change, the cultural and industrial practices that cause it, and the spiritual renewal and energy for finding solutions. What characterizes the spirituality of faith-based environmentalists, what inspires them to act. and what challenges serve as barriers? How can best practices be shared to engage and inspire others?


Erin Lothes is assistant professor of Theology at the College of Saint Elizabeth, Morristown, NJ, and holds a Ph.D. in contemporary systematic Theology from Fordham University, a Master's in Theology from Boston College, and an A.B. in English from Princeton University. Her research as an Earth Institute Fellow at Columbia University is directed toward a forthcoming book analyzing the the dynamics of motivation driving environmental advocacy in diverse American congregations, Inspired Sustainability. She is author of The Paradox of Christian Sacrifice: The Loss of Self, the Gift of Self (Crossroad) as well as articles on faith-based environmentalism, energy ethics, and interdisciplinary communication. As an advocate for an interdisciplinary energy ethic, she currently convenes a task force studying energy ethics within the Catholic Theological Society of America.


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