UNESCO Chair Director Alberto García signed a framework agreement for ongoing collaboration with the Universidad Finis Terrae in Santiago, Chile on November 19, 2015.
The accord was signed the same day García spoke delivered the introductory address of an interdisciplinary conference on “The reception of the encyclical Laudato Si’ from an ecological, philosophical, and irreligious perspective.” A full schedule of the participants can be found at the end of this article. The following is an interview with García regarding the importance of the event.
What benefits will bring to the University perform this type of collaboration agreements?
The agreement we have signed today a memorandum of understanding or a letter of intent to start a direct and immediate link on projects in education, research and dissemination of knowledge in bioethics, in light of human rights based on what we share all human beings irrespective of our culture, our religion or our scientific or technological background. Through the UNESCO Chair and the University Finis Terrae, we will engage primarily in four areas of interest always looking for the art of convergence and cooperation in the field of global ethics: Neureobioethics; Bioethics, Multiculturalism and Religion; Bioethics and Global Art, which will imply the participation of the Universidad Finis Terrae in an international Bioethics Art Competition (www.bioethicsart.org), that inspires artists to produce works of art with values that respect human dignity and fundamental rights and duties of individuals. Finally, Bioethics and Human Ecology, which is precisely the issue that brought us to this seminar today.
What is the importance of such meetings?
The fundamental importance is that with emerging problems we have in Chile and around the world, it is important to call people with different professional expertise in different branches of knowledge (scientists, theologians, philosophers, jurists, sociologists, etc.) to engage in a constructive reflection on an event, such as the encyclical of Pope Francisco. To the extent that we encourage such meetings, in an atmosphere of diversity and with people like those who have participated in today’s event, we will be able to propose solutions that will be more effective, more democratic, and better for the common good.
Did you think that it would generate a large gathering?
I knew the Universidad Finis Terrae from a distance and knew that it had the ability to host great gatherings. However, I really was surprised by the variety of people who came, their different backgrounds, people of different philosophical and intellectual areas of high caliber and people who are committed to caring for the environment. I think that such a gathering reflects the true capacity of irradiation the university has in today’s society.
Do you think there will be any change in the perspectives of the audience?
Certainly, but not only through what was said. The symposium, which I think was very interesting, was extremely enriching thanks to other speaks and to the questions and comments from the public. First, I think people will leave this activity and will read the Laudato Si’ encyclical itself, which is very important. Second, it shows that you can be interested in the social thought of the Catholic Church, which is enormously rich for believers and nonbelievers. Third, it will awaken in each small commitments in their own families or in their work environments.
In line with its constant commitment to bioethics, multiculturalism, and interreligious dialogue, the Chair is preparing a similar gathering of diverse thinkers to discuss the same Papal document from various disciplinary and cultural perspectives on November 26 in Rome. The Rome gathering will focus on collaboration among various cultures and religions in the fight against hunger and will feature the presence of representatives the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations. To read more about the “Agricultural development and the fight against hunger” event, click here.
Click the image below to see a full list of the participants.