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21 July 2022

Guardians of Creation Project Holds Virtual Symposium

"A great cultural, spiritual and educational challenge stands before us [...] Education in environmental responsibility can encourage ways of acting which directly and significantly affect the world around us [...] living our vocation to be protectors of God's handiwork."

- Pope Francis, Laudato Si', (2015, 202-217)

On 14 July, the Guardians of Creation project held a virtual symposium on “Faith, Education, and the Ecological Crisis”, which brought together voices from across the education sector, including teachers, educators, and academics, to explore how we can empower our young people to act and become ecologically minded citizens. Through an engaging evening of talks and presentations, the symposium combined lived experiences and innovative research about climate education.

The opening keynote, “Laudato Si’ Goes to School “ was given by Sr. Margaret Atkins, Canoness of St Augustine and Research Fellow at Blackfriars, Oxford University, who examined the key themes of Laudato Si’ in relation to school education, concluding with imagining what a dream ecological school could become. A number of scholars and educators also presented 10-minute papers across four panel discussions on the themes: “Developing climate hope from eco-anxieties”; “Reimagining environments in Catholic Social Teaching”; “Creating ecological dialogues and connections”; and “Transforming faith spaces for sustainable education”.

Ruth-Anne Walbank, Laudato Si’ Research Associate at St Mary’s University, Twickenham and event organiser, stated: “Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical, Laudato Si’, offered the global Catholic community a unique opportunity to respond to our current climate crisis. Laudato Si’ is more than a static document; it was an invitation for an active participation as stewards of creation, especially for the Catholic education sector.”

She added: “We wanted a chance to connect teachers and academics in an evening symposium. The academic community has so much to learn from the lived experiences of educators working with young people, and I hope this event offers a space for people of all faiths and backgrounds to share new ideas for sustainability in education.”

Edward de Quay, Carbon Transition Officer at the Laudato Si’ Research Institute, attended the event. “Ruth and the team did a great job of pulling together an engaging evening event, with some new and exciting perspectives. Well done to everyone involved.”

The Guardians of Creation project has been developed collaboratively with the Diocese of Salford, St Mary’s University and the Laudato Si’ Research Institute at Campion Hall, University of Oxford.