This event is being rescheduled for the fall. This page will be updated with the new dates when they are available.
Care for the environment is the focus of Georgian Court University’s Critical Concerns Week 2020. The March 23–26 observance of “Earth: Land & Sea” includes a lineup of more than 25 events and activities that are open to the public. Critical Concerns 2020 also includes guest speakers Steve Curwood of NPR’s Living on Earth, now in its 28th year, and Jim Waltman, executive director of The Watershed Institute. The Pennington, New Jersey-based nonprofit works to protect water and the environment in Central New Jersey through conservation, advocacy, science, and education.
Critical Concerns Week reflects the slate of issues addressed by the Sisters of Mercy, GCU’s sponsoring organization. Each year since 2006, GCU has dedicated a week of in-depth scholarly study to special concerns, including women’s issues, the environment, immigration and identity, and nonviolence. This year’s area of overall focus, the environment, will go beyond one week as university officials are also planning an Earth Day event, slated this year for Wednesday, April 22.
Beyond Critical Concerns Week, an Opportunity to Act
Students, faculty, alumni, and members of the community are encouraged to participate. And there’s something for everyone, according to Paul DaPonte, Ph.D., executive director for mission integration and special assistant to GCU’s president. In addition to hands-on demonstrations, prayer gatherings and a closing Mass, the week includes:
- Film Screenings—Merchants of Doubt (Monday, March 23) and The Biggest Little Farm (Tuesday, March 24)
- Special Presentations and Panel Discussions—Jersey-Friendly Yards with the Barnegat Bay Partnership and Highlighting the Business Community’s Commitment to the Land & Sea (both Tuesday, March 24); and Threats to the Pinelands from the Pinelands Preservation Alliance (Wednesday, March 25); and
- Artistic Programming—A poetry slam (Monday, March 23), dance performances (Wednesday, March 25) and an art installation (through April 23)
“This isn’t just a week to go to events and store the experience in our memory,” says Dr. DaPonte. “It’s an experience that heightens awareness and encourages a ‘mental ecology’ of the overall awareness of creation and how everything is interconnected. Critical Concerns Week should prompt us to live differently.”
A Critical Concern Rooted in Faith
In a 2016 message about caring for creation, Pope Francis proposed an addition to the seven corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Caring for the earth, the Pope said, “calls for a grateful contemplation of God’s world, which allows us to discover in each thing a teaching which God wishes to hand on to us.”
That’s an important takeaway, according to Dr. DaPonte. “We are examining this concern in the context of our Catholic, Mercy identity,” he says. “This is experiential, informational, and prayerful—all at once. At GCU, our educational mission is not limited to learning online or sitting in a classroom.
“All too often it is easy to think about the environment in terms of global issues while not considering the local bearing on our lives,” said Dr. DaPonte. “After Critical Concerns Week, we want people to be transformed toward more responsible living.” Visit georgian.edu/critical-concerns to view the complete schedule for Critical Concerns 2020. To learn more, contact Jennifer DePietro in the GCU Office of Mission Integration at 732-987-2303.