The Consortium of Catholic Universities inaugurates with conference at the Rome Gateway

Author: Costanza Montanari

Consortium Photo

The Rome Global Gateway hosted the conference “The Catholic University, Environmental Justice, and Research for a Sustainable Future” from June 16 to 18, 2022. The conference officially inaugurated the Consortium of Catholic Universities (CCU) and launched the CCU’s two-year intensive research focus on environmental justice and efforts to promote a more sustainable future. 

The consortium was led in the past year by Fr. Bob Dowd, C.S.C., vice president and associate provost for interdisciplinary initiatives. Ten international member universities from various parts of the world are participating in the conference.

The CCU is dedicated to furthering research and building a scholarly community that addresses the most pressing needs of the world and the Church, enhancing global education opportunities for students, and sharing institutional best practices regarding trends and challenges in various aspects of higher education.

“Our hope is that the universities that comprise the Consortium of Catholic Universities,” commented Fr. Bob Dowd, “united by Catholic mission and a desire to more fully understand the world around us, will work together to build a scholarly community that transcends national and disciplinary boundaries, advances research, enhances student learning, and makes the world more humane and just.”

This inaugural conference was a first step toward building community and fostering impactful collaboration. Aware of the multi-dimensional scope of ecological challenges,  the CCU believes interdisciplinary approaches are essential. Therefore, the conference was organized in such a way that different disciplinary perspectives were brought to bear on common challenges, such as those having to do with water, soil, and air, energy, food and food security, poverty and inequality, and education for a sustainable future.

Ccu Conference Slide

Conference participants shared the results of completed research or progress of ongoing research, considered new research questions, reflected on the special role of a Catholic university with regard to research that promotes more sustainable practices and policies, and considered how Catholic universities might more effectively collaborate to promote greater care for all of creation.   

One of the subgroups had a special focus on water, soil, and air.  The subgroup’s session was streamed as part of the “Global Dialogues: The Worsening Water Crisis” ThinkND virtual interactive series on June 22, 2022 in partnership with the Keough School of Global Affairs. The series highlights the University’s global reach through research, activism, and local impact around the globe as a further exploration of what connects us in our Care for Our Common Home. Each week, it guides the audience in a journey across the globe, from Mumbai to Santiago and finally Rome, and showcases the impact of local research and fieldwork that is happening throughout the University’s network of programs, partnerships, and engagements with local people, organizations, and governments.

The working group looked, among other aspects, at the effects of pollution, especially for the poor, at the quality of water available to the poor (cf Laudato Si 29), at the privatization of water (LS 30), and other social and political factors connected to the quality of water, soil, and air such as changed uses of the soil (cf LS 23). Pope Francis explicitly encourages a concern with the impact on biodiversity (LS 35). 

Click here to watch the video of the panel on ThinkND.


Originally published by Costanza Montanari at on June 22, 2022.