Brave New World

Complex systems thinkers attribute many global challenges to the mechanistic worldview that arose during the scientific revolution. Some believe that this reductionist mindset has been reinforced at the expense of morality, meaning, mystery, and humanity, while also instigating a drive towards materialism, consumerism, and commodification. In this panel, we will discuss the philosophical roots of environmental degradation and social inequality, examining how shifts in perspective are essential to cultivate mutually beneficial relationships between people and planet. Through the lenses of regenerative thinking and reenchantment, we will consider how to nurture the inherent diversity and complexity of our shared living world—for example, by enabling Earth-centred economies, politics, and spirituality, in addition to fair distribution of power, wealth, and wellbeing. We will also explore the division between science and religion, reason and faith, and how to apply multiple ways of knowing in framing a new global ethic.

Dr. Vandana Shiva is a world-renowned environmental thinker, activist, feminist, philosopher of science, writer, and science policy advocate. In 1982, she founded the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology (RFSTE), an independent research institute that addresses the most significant problems of ecology of our times. Two years later, she instigated Navdanya (‘nine seeds’)—a movement in defense of biodiversity and the contributions made by small farmers to climate, environment, and society—along with “Earth University” in Uttarakhand, India. The recipient of many awards, including the Right Livelihood Award (the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’), and the Sydney Peace Prize, she has been named among the top five “Most Important People in Asia” by AsiaWeek. Dr. Shiva is a prolific writer and author of numerous books. She serves on the board of the International Forum on Globalization (IFG), and is a member of the executive committee for the World Future Council. Trained as a physicist at the University of Punjab, she completed her PhD on the ‘Hidden Variables and Non-locality in Quantum Theory from the University of Western Ontario, Canada. She later shifted to inter-disciplinary research in science, technology and environmental policy, which she carried out at the Indian Institute of Science and the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore, India.

Rev. Dr. Joshtrom Isaac Kureethadam is coordinator of Ecology and Creation at the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. He is also chair of Philosophy of Science and director of the Institute of Social and Political Sciences at the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome. His most recent books include The Ten Green Commandments of Laudato Si’ (2019), The Philosophical Roots of the Ecological Crisis (2017), and Creation in Crisis: Science, Ethics and Theology (2014).