March 17, 2016

Provost Abela
Catholic University Provost Andrew Abela speaks at the Human Ecology Conference.

This week, more than 250 business, faith, and academic leaders are gathered at The Catholic University of America for a three-day conference on human ecology - the systematic study of human beings and their interactions with one another and the world around them.

"Human Ecology: Integrating Business and 125 Years of Catholic Social Doctrine," is cosponsored by the School of Business and Economics and the Napa Institute. Conference speakers are focusing on themes related to three papal encyclicals - Rerum Novarum, Centesimus Annus , and Laudato Si' - and the impact faith and reason should have on business.

"By integrating faith with reason, by allowing the light of faith to illumine our undertakings, we can free our inquiry and open up greater opportunities for innovative action," said Brian Engelland, interim dean of the business school, in his welcoming remarks.

The first lecture of the conference "Why Human Ecology?" helped define the theme of the conference. Ecology is understood as the study of living things and their relationships within their given environments. In Laudato Si' , "Everyone recognizes, Pope Francis observes, that there is an order to nature that we cannot violate with impunity, without causing grave harm to the plant," said Andrew Abela, provost.

"If we recognize this to be so, then why - he's asking - is it so hard for us to recognize that there is also a human ecology - that there is an order for human life as well - ... and that this order cannot be violated for long, without grave harm to humanity? Human ecology is the systematic study of human beings - in their relationships with one another, with society, and with the natural world - in the light of both reason and faith. Not just the physical and social dimensions of human life, but the moral and spiritual ones as well."

In addition to Abela, other speakers at the conference include George Weigel, author of Saint John Paul II's biography Witness to Hope and distinguished senior fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center; Michael Novak, former Ambassador to the UN Commission on Human Rights; and Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

This is the second time the Napa Institute and business school have collaborated on a business conference at CUA. In 2014, they co-sponsored "Liberty and Solidarity: Living the Vocation to Business."


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