By Sydney Hyndman, UNESCO Chair Intern

On June 10-12, the Expanded Reason Institute invited academics from around the world to the Francisco de Vitoria University in Madrid to participate in the 2024 Integral Ecology Congress.

Inspired by Pope Francis’s famous encyclical, Laudato Si, the Integral Ecology Congress sought to explore an all-encompassing vision of ecology and its connection to diverse sectors such as the environment, the economy and our society. As the 21st Century experiences an anthropological and ecological crisis, it is necessary to address these challenges through a multidisciplinary approach.

On the first day of the congress, Professor Lílian Santos, Research Scholar at UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights and Professor of Bioethics at Regina Apostolorum, delivered a presentation exploring gene editing and theology from an expanded perspective. She discussed expanded reason themes from a dual perspective. Specifically, she examined how the global governance of genome editing can be challenged by the ideas of Laudato Si, and conversely explored how Laudato Si can be inspired by genetic knowledge and the possibilities that exist within the field of gene editing. Furthermore, Professor Santos highlighted a number of issues in gene editing that are not covered in the encyclical, such as the de-extinction of some species, the use of gene drives in disease-transmitting species, gene editing in animals for transplantation, advances in hybrids and chimeras, and the rise of biohackers. Overall, Professor Santos’ presentation on expanded reason encouraged both the sectors of gene editing and theology to consider new realities, bringing collaborative approaches to the table.