St. Olaf College | News

St. Olaf to host panel discussion on climate policy and religion

Christiana Peppard

St. Olaf College will host a panel discussion March 9 titled Climate Policy and Religion: Perspectives on the Papal Encyclical featuring Harvard University economist Robert Stavins, Fordham University theologian Christiana Peppard, and political theorist Damon Linker, a senior correspondent for The Week.

The discussion, which begins at 7 p.m. in Tomson Hall 280, will be streamed and archived online. It is free and open to the public.

The panel is sponsored by St. Olaf College’s Institute for Freedom and Community, which aims to foster intellectual inquiry and meaningful discussion of important political and social issues.

In a 192-page document — known as an encyclical — released in June, Pope Francis “lays out the argument for a new partnership between science and religion to combat human-driven climate change.” The encyclical is a letter often written only to leaders and members of the Roman Catholic Church. In this encyclical, Pope Francis writes to “every person living on the planet.”

The participants in the St. Olaf panel will offer interdisciplinary analyses of the encyclical. They will also comment on the recent Paris Agreement, a global agreement on the reduction of climate change.

Robert Stavins

Stavins is the Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government at the Harvard Kennedy School, director of the Harvard Environmental Economics Program, chair of the Environment and Natural Resources Faculty Group, director of graduate studies for the Doctoral Program in Public Policy and the Doctoral Program in Political Economy and Government, co‑chair of the Harvard Business School‑Kennedy School Joint Degree Programs, and director of the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements.

His research has focused on diverse areas of environmental economics and policy, including examinations of market-based policy instruments; regulatory impact analysis; innovation and diffusion of pollution-control technologies; environmental benefit valuation; policy instrument choice under uncertainty; competitiveness effects of regulation; depletion of forested wetlands; political economy of policy instrument choice; and costs of carbon sequestration.

Peppard is an assistant professor of theology, science, and ethics in the Department of Theology at Fordham University. Her research engages religious ecological ethics at the intersection of Catholic social teaching, ecological anthropology, natural law theory, and developments in the earth sciences.

Damon Linker

She is the author of Just Water: Theology, Ethics, and the Global Water Crisis and co-editor of Just Sustainability: Ecology, Technology, and Resource Extraction and Expanding Horizons in Bioethics.

Linker is a senior correspondent at The Week. He is also a consulting editor at the University of Pennsylvania Press, a former contributing editor at The New Republic, and the author of The Theocons: Secular America Under Siege and The Religious Test: Why We Must Question the Beliefs of Our Leaders.

In recent years, he has taught critical writing at the University of Pennsylvania.

His essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and other leading publications.