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Project | 29th April 2024

Jesuits and the Natural World

In 2023, the LSRI hosted a two day conference at the University of Oxford entitled "Jesuits and the Natural World". It gathered around thirty scholars and practitioners from a wide range of disciplines to reflect on Jesuit perspectives on the natural world.

With their worldwide reach, and efficient channels of reporting and correspondence, the early modern Jesuits were uniquely placed to think about nature, botany, weather, and what would come to be called human ecology, in a wider context than any group before them. In addition, intense focus on place and on the presence of "signs" to be read in the world are a foundation of Ignatian thought and meditation. Over the centuries, this facilitated Jesuit engagements with subjects as varied as botany, meteorology, geology, museum practise, and symbolic and spiritual readings of places, gardens and plants. These Jesuit ideas and approaches have continued to resonate and to influence the public domain over centuries.

With this context in mind, our conference explored Jesuit understandings of the natural world from a historical, theological, philosophical, scientific and literary perspectives, as well as assessing the ongoing relevance of a Jesuit natural theology for today.

The LSRI is delighted to provide access to a number of working papers as delivered by speakers at the conference. We hope this will facilitate further discussion and collaboration on this fascinating topic. The first two are below, with three more to follow. Read and join the conversation via the links below.

Jesuits and the Natural World: Working Paper Hurley


Jesuits and the Natural World: Working Paper Hinckley


Jesuits and the Natural World: Working Paper /davidson


Jesuits and the Natural World: Working Paper Cooper


Jesuits and the Natural World: Working Paper Udias