A papal encyclicalcalling humanity to responsibility and care for the environment has inspired the adoption of a new campus value at Georgetown, one that highlights the university’s commitment to planet Earth.
As a part of its existing Spirit of Georgetown set of values, the Office of Mission & Ministry has added “Care for Our Common Home,” a name inspired by Pope Francis’ encyclical letter Laudato Si’, which is subtitled “on care for our common home.”
“The Georgetown University community has been committed to environmental justice and issues of sustainability for many decades,” says Rev. Mark Bosco, S.J., the university’s vice president of mission & ministry. “Pope Francis’ call for Catholic, Jesuit institutions to be leaders in this enterprise called on us as a university to make explicit what has, I think, always been an implicit value for us.”
For instance, Bosco highlighted distinguished faculty recruitments since the Vatican’s “landmark document” appeared, including renowned conservation scientist Peter Marra as the Laudato Si’ chair in biology and the environment, as well as Jesuit economist and environmental policy expert, Rev. Gaël Giraud, S.J., as director of environmental justice.
In 2019, Georgetown announced a new fund named after the encyclical to support faculty, students and staff in pursuing projects designed to strengthen the university community’s response to global and local sustainability challenges. Read about the recipients.
Georgetown’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, & World Affairs also hosted an October 2020 event celebrating and affirming the encyclical on its fifth anniversary.
Additionally, the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life also held a related event “Hearing the Cry of the Earth and the Cry of the Poor,” featuring a distinguished panel including Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.
‘Deepens this Priority’
Bosco notes that the Office of Mission & Ministry has been collaborating with university partners to make the “Care for Our Common Home” theme and related work prominent on campus through its addition to the core values.
“Prominently displayed on banners around campus at the beginning and end of each academic year, these values continue to be adopted by many in our university community,” he says. “They serve as a distinguishing hallmark of our Jesuit and Catholic heritage, and help make Georgetown an inviting and distinctive educational community.”
The new value is defined as: In his landmark 2015 encyclical, Laudato Si, Pope Francis urgently calls for “a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet.” As we strive to protect our common home and promote the common good, we show respect for the Creator and act on the moral imperative to care for the earth and for those most impacted by environmental degradation. Georgetown seeks to strengthen our efforts to bring the intellectual, institutional, and spiritual resources of our community to advance environmental sustainability and environmental justice.
“Naming ‘Care for Our Common Home’ as an integrated value of the Spirit of Georgetown deepens this priority for everyone here,” Bosco says.