This event is being rescheduled for the fall. This page will be updated with the new dates when they are available.
Care for all of creation is more than a nice sentiment—it is a call to live with mercy in every context of our lives. Every year since 2006, GCU has dedicated a week to one of the ongoing critical concerns identified by the Sisters of Mercy. The very timely and urgent critical concern for Critical Concerns Week 2020, March 23–26, is Earth: Land & Sea. Our robust calendar of events offers something for everyone, from art installations, poetry slams, and dance performances to presentations, roundtable discussions, and panels. Mark your calendar now to participate, and download our very special Prayer for Earth: Land & Sea.
Schedule of Events
Outdoors, Near Dorothy Marron University Community Chapel
We lift up our voices in praise and thanksgiving to God, our Creator for the gift of earth, its land, and seas. As the Georgian Court community begins Critical Concerns Week, we pray that our minds and hearts be opened to receiving a new awareness of the sacred web of life—the interconnectedness of all living things—and of our collective responsibility to live in deep and caring harmony with all of creation.
Rebecca Hartman, GCU Individual Giving Officer
Beginning of month-long art installation, Sister Mary Joseph Cunningham Library
Experience the treasures of the sea with Rebecca Hartman’s coastal art exhibit Thalassophilous, which is Greek for “love of the ocean.” Through paintings, pastels, and clay sculptures of the ocean and marine life, Ms. Hartman provides a way for us to appreciate the beauty of our ocean’s ecosystems while providing awareness of the damage done by climate change and human actions. Included in the installation are lifelike sculptures of coral and starfish, which are declining because of warming temperatures, as well as jellyfish and octopi. Learn what actions you can take to keep humans and marine life living together in balance through this stunning educational exhibit.
Rebecca Hartman is a graduate of Marywood University and received her M.A. in Museum and Non-Profit Management from Seton Hall University. She is the owner of the coastal décor boutique Tides of Joy Treasures, found on the Etsy platform and at local craft fairs. Through the power of art, Ms. Hartman’s mission is to educate the community on the conservation of our oceans and its marine life and how they must be preserved for the future.
Jeffries Hall Foyer
Jeffries Hall Foyer
Anne Tabor-Morris, Ph.D., GCU Professor of Physics & Director of GCU NASA Science Outreach
Jodi Helmer, Author & Lecturer
Birds, bats, insects, and many other pollinators are threatened. This presentation explores why the statistics have become so dire and how they can be reversed.
Jodi Helmer is an author and lecturer specializing in topics about food, farming, and the environment. Ms. Helmer’s work has appeared in publications like Sierra, Entrepreneur, National Geographic Traveler, as well as on NPR.
Sponsored by the GCU Film Symposium
Inspired by the acclaimed book by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, Merchants of Doubt takes audiences on a satirically comedic, yet illuminating ride into the heart of conjuring American spin. Filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the curtain on a secretive group of highly charismatic, silver-tongued pundits-for-hire who present themselves in the media as scientific authorities—yet have the contrary aim of spreading maximum confusion about well-studied public threats ranging from toxic chemicals to pharmaceuticals to climate change.
Nancy Sardone, Ph.D.,GCU Associate Professor of Education & edTPA Coordinator
Michael F. Gross, Ph.D., Associate Provost for Academic Development, Director of the Arboretum & Professor of Biology
GCU Students: David Bartolini & Jake Lukenta
North Dining Room
Join us for an investigation of major oil spills, ecological devastation, and changes in regulation since the catastrophic Exxon Valdez disaster in Prince William Sound, Alaska, on the eve of its 31st anniversary.
Jessica Hausmann, Ph.D., GCU Associate Professor of English & Director of the University Honors Program
Kristen Wedlock, GCU Assistant Professor of Writing
“You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.”
Gather your poems and share them at this open mic session as we honor the earth through words and community.
Jeffries Hall Foyer
Karen Walzer, Public Outreach Coordinator, Barnegat Bay Partnership
What we do in our yards has a direct impact on the environment and our own health. This program will introduce you to the Jersey-Friendly Yards website, an online guide to a healthier Jersey yard. Learn how native plants can help you reduce use of fertilizers and pesticides, conserve water, and create a much-needed habitat for wildlife. The program will include a demonstration of the site’s searchable plant database, a great tool for finding the right plants for your yard.
Karen Walzer is the public outreach coordinator for the Barnegat Bay Partnership, a member of the National Estuary Program working to protect and restore clean water and healthy habitat in the Barnegat Bay and its watershed.
Rutgers Master Gardner Program
Jeffries Hall Foyer
Steve & Pat Miller, Co-Founders of Middletown for Clean Energy
Join Pat and Steve Miller, co-founders of Middletown for Clean Energy, for an enlightening presentation on changes you can make This nonpartisan citizens’ group is working to guide Middletown and other towns in Monmouth County and across New Jersey to 100% clean energy by 2050. The mission of Middletown for Clean Energy is to leave a legacy of a livable world for our children and grandchildren. They’ll discuss their Middletown Energy Plan, which shows specific actions that will yield the greatest greenhouse gas reductions, largely from changes made by individuals, households, and businesses. You’ll learn valuable concepts that you can apply to your households and work environments.
Pat and Steve Miller are both retired Bell Labs engineers. Pat holds an M.S. in Statistics from Rutgers University. She retired as a project manager in telecommunications at Telcordia Technologies. She is a member of the Middletown Green Team. Steve holds an M.S.E.E. degree from New York University. He retired as a technology planning manager at Avaya Communications. He is the climate chair for the Jersey Shore (Monmouth) Sierra Club. They have continued to apply latest science to their climate-themed presentations for more than years, and have now found a new lifetime career.
Brunella Bowditch, Ph.D., GCU Associate Professor of Biology
Elissa Cutter, Ph.D., GCU Assistant Professor of Religious Studies & Theology
Corey Katz, Ph.D., GCU Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Johann Vento, Ph.D., GCU Professor of Theology/Religious Studies & Interim Chair of the Department of Religious Studies, Theology & Philosophy
McAuley Heritage Center
Join GCU faculty for an exploration of Pope Francis’s consequential second encyclical, Laudato si’, on the topic of “care for our common home.” Faculty will focus on the encyclical’s overall place in Catholic Social Teaching (Dr. Vento), notions of the human person as social and the nobility of little actions (Dr. Cutter), insights from secular environmental ethics (Dr. Katz), and a reflection on biodiversity from the point of view of a biologist/theologian (Dr. Bowditch).
Laura Grodewald, GCU Director of Global Education Programs
North Dining Room
Students, teams, and anyone who likes competition are invited to participate in a water challenge led by the Global Lions. Participants will leave the competition with a renewed appreciation of water resources and an understanding of people around the world who don’t have the same access to water.
School of Business & Digital Media
The discussion will showcase Argos Farms, Hatteras Press, New Jersey Natural Gas, and TerraCycle. Each organization will discuss the success of their respective sustainability programs and commitment to the land and the sea. There will also be an opportunity for an open discussion and Q & A.
Mercy Collegiate Society
The Biggest Little Farm chronicles the eight-year quest of John and Molly Chester as they trade city living for 200 acres of barren farmland and a dream to harvest in harmony with nature. Through dogged perseverance and embracing the opportunity provided by nature’s conflicts, the Chesters unlock and uncover a biodiverse design for living that exists far beyond their farm, its seasons, and our wildest imagination.
Jaclyn Rhoads, Ph.D., Assistant Executive Director, Pinelands Preservation Alliance
The Pinelands, within easy reach of more than 1 in 20 Americans, is one of Earth’s unique treasures. Within the Pinelands are 800,000 acres of forest in one of the world’s most densely developed regions; one of North America’s largest and healthiest surviving aquifers; a community of often rare wildlife and flora under siege in other parts of their natural habitat, and a fascinating history embodied in the Pinelands’ ghost towns, historic villages, farms, and people. Discover how the Pinelands Preservation Alliance (PPA) seeks to preserve the Pine Barrens ecosystem, promote wide public awareness of the values of Pinelands resources and issues involved in their preservation, and advance permanent acquisition of land and development rights by private and public conservation agencies. You’ll learn how the Pinelands Protection Act and Comprehensive Management Plan can protect against sprawl, poorly-designed development, and other abuses of land and water.
Jim Waltman, Executive Director, The Watershed Institute
Runoff is the biggest cause of flooding and water pollution in lakes, rivers, streams, estuaries, and other waterways in New Jersey. The situation worsens as climate change increases the intensity and frequency of rain events. Jim Waltman of The Watershed Institute will explore the issues related to runoff and available solutions for its detrimental effects.
Jim Waltman is the executive director of The Watershed Institute, a position he has held since April 2005. Founded in 1949, the organization teaches more than 10,000 children, teens, and adults through formal educational programming each year; advocates for stronger environmental protections at the local, state, and federal levels; conducts a robust stream monitoring program with the assistance of more than 100 volunteers; implements habitat restoration projects; and works with private landowners, schools and companies to improve their environmental stewardship.
Choreography/Performance Score: Silvana Cardell, GCU Associate Professor & Chair of the Department of Dance
GCU Student Dancers: Celia Cioffi, Jaime Cuomo, Anthony Dimaria-Sadorski, Allyson Ferry, Esmeralda Luciano, Tiffany Quinby, Daria Raguseo, Tyler Rivera, Gianna Rutigliano, Quincy Southerland, Madeline Yahr
Wellness Center Lawn (Inclement Weather: Wellness Center Lobby)
In “Submerged Bodies,” dancers explore plastic pollution and the disastrous consequences to all forms of lives of the world’s oceans and waterways. Audience members will participate by holding a large plastic surface that will define the space. This gesture will deepen their gaze into the subject matter since audiences will look down toward the transparent surface on which the dancers will perform. The alignment of audience and performers in close proximity will connect them and keep everyone engaged and immersed in the action. This connection reminds us that the change needed to save the oceans need to come from us all.
Steve Curwood, Producer and Host of NPR’s Living on Earth
GCU Community Representatives
What kind of world are we leaving for future generations, given the damage wrought by human actions and the growing concern of climate change? Join us for a roundtable discussion with our keynote speaker, students, and faculty as we discover what hopes and fears multiple generations have for the environment of the future.
Choreographer: Tyler Rivera, GCU Dance Major
GCU Student Dancers: Alonzo Magsino, Daria Raguseo, Madeline Yahr
Wellness Center, Dance Studio II
This abstract work, created and performed by GCU dance majors, deals with the current state of pollution in our waters and the harm and entrapment that sea creatures are endure due to the overproduction and consumption of plastic materials. Dancers will perform among an installation created with recycled materials by choreographer Tyler Rivera and dancer Madeline Yahr.
Steve Curwood, Producer and Host of NPR’s Living on Earth
GCU’s keynote speaker for Critical Concerns 2020 explores a broad range of ecological issues in his weekly environmental news and information program, Living on Earth. Join us for a riveting, nonpartisan presentation from Steve Curwood, executive producer and host of the show, as he advocates the fact that our relationship to our environment, and what we do to it, is as important as any other part of our lives.
Steve Curwood is the executive producer and host of NPR’s award-winning weekly environmental news program Living on Earth. It is aired on more than 300 stations nationwide and heard in Pacific nations over the Armed Forces Radio Network. It has been awarded the Edward R. Murrow Award from the Radio and Television News Directors Association, the New York Festivals TV & Film Award for Outstanding Environmental Series, several CINDY Awards, and the National Federation of Community Broadcasters Silver Reel Award.
Katja Luxem & John Tracey, Princeton University Graduate Students
Plastics have become essential components of products and packaging because they’re durable, lightweight, and cheap. But though they offer numerous benefits, plastics originate as fossil fuels and emit heat-trapping greenhouse gases from creation to disposal. Even if plastics go to a landfill, some are light enough to blow in the wind and enter waterways, where they can break down into microplastics and scatter across the globe, even to the depths of the ocean. Toxic chemicals can bind to microplastics and create poison pills that aquatic animals eat. Plastics also harm animals through entanglement and ingestion at all levels of the food chain. Join Princeton University graduate students Katja Luxem and John Tracey for insights into the problems of plastic pollution and solutions for reducing it and its effects on marine ecosystems.
Katja Luxem is a graduate student in the Department of Geosciences at Princeton University. She is studying canonical and alternative nitrogenases in model N fixers and the environment. She received her B.S. from the California Institute of Technology in 2014 and was a Fulbright scholar in 2015–2016.
John Tracey received his B.S. in Biology from Fordham University in 2015 and was a post-baccalaureate research fellow at the National Institutes of Health from 2015 to 2016. He is currently a graduate student at Princeton University studying the marine nitrogen cycle.
Jeffries Hall Foyer
Dorothy Marron University Community Chapel
The Georgian Court community and friends will gather to experience the Lord’s presence in Word and Sacrament and to offer thanks for the numerous occasions of transformational learning during Critical Concerns Week 2020. We will offer our prayer of hope for the future of our earthly home: land and sea.