The following is a copy of my course of studies for the next school year in Rome. I will be studying environmental science at a Pontifical university. Why, you might ask? The program focuses on integrating Catholic theology, spirituality, and ethics with contemporary environmental issues. How cool is that? Read on for more info...
Master’s Program (Diploma) in Environmental Sciences
A society’s sensitivity towards environmental issues demonstrates its level of civilization: For this reason, it is essential to use all available competence (whether human, educational, scientific, technological, economical or ethical) in order to analyze and solve the problems involving Man’s work and Creation.
It is necessary to develop an optimistic cultural view, different from the one which seems to predominate nowadays: A view that will no longer be based on the conflict between human activity and environment. Man is not “the cancer of the Earth”, nor should Nature be worshipped as if it were a pagan goddess.
A reductionist approach, such as that of materialism, does not lead to any solution.
A new concept of environmental protection is necessary: It has to be interdisciplinary and it has to be based on the Christian Humanism’s philosophy, according to which the quest of Truth, Righteousness and Beauty joins Faith and Reason.
Our Program aims to develop a more encouraging idea about Man and human potential: Man shall be viewed as a blessing rather than a plague for the planet; as a medicine, rather than a cancer for the world; we think of a Man whose progeny rouses hope instead of despair, both for human kind and for Creation; a Man who will take care of the world, so that the environment will become, instead of a problem, a resource.
Our purpose is to restore a “vertically” oriented, theocentrical view, according to which Creation should be healed, developed and governed for the common good. We reject a “horizontal” concept of environment, which “divinizes” fauna and flora. We lift up our eyes to Heaven, so that we may learn the Universe’s laws; we refuse to become victims of Gaia, a vindictive goddess who takes revenge for every human deed.
The Ateneo Pontificio Regina Apostolorum, along with the Ministero dell’Ambiente, has organized a Master’s Program in Environmental Sciences, which follows an interdisciplinary approach.
It will devote special attention to:
·The anthropocentric and integral concept of human development, according to the best philosophical and theological tradition of the Catholic Church.
· The study and practice of the most advanced techniques that science and technology make available to environmental problem solving.
· The economic and civil progress of nations in accord to the best principles of integral human development. Such principles consist in fostering the possibilities of human beings, as far as their person, dignity and work is concerned.
What lectures, subjects and contents are offered?
In the academic year 2003-2004, we are offering six modules. They are presented below, each one with the titles of the related lectures and seminars.
Anthropology: The relationship between Man and environment: philosophy and history. When Man worshipped nature: The origin of pagan religions. Overcoming of pantheistic and polytheistic religions. Man, environment and the Abrahamitic religions (Hebraism, Christianity and Islam). Modern pantheism, the Charter of the Earth. Young people's culture, New Age and Neo-paganism. The Animalism: history and nature of a fundamentalist ideology. Environmentalism and neo-paganism in the new young people's culture. Feminism, ecologism and birth control. Man and the custody of Creation: the Biblical teaching. The protection of the environment in John Paul II's magisterial teaching.
Module 2: Science and Technology
- History of scientific innovations and contributions to environmental problem solving.
- Evaluation of scientific contributions to human progress.
- Cultural and environmental impact of scientific and technological innovations.
- Agriculture, chemistry and pollution.
- Biotechnologies and transgenics: The importance of an evergreen revolution.
- Climatic variations and greenhouse effect.
- Energetic development between metropolitan legends and scientific reality.
- Electromagnetic fields and their danger for health.
- Typology and main sources of electromagnetic radiations.
- Physical characterization of electromagnetic radiations and assessment of possible causes of electromagnetic pollution.
- "The mad cow": spongiform encephalopaties in animals and in man.
- Technologic development and scientific information.
- Order and development of biologic processes.
- Nutrition and protection of vegetable organisms.
- Pollens, allergies and phyto-sanitary control.
- Public health and pollution.
- Space technology and environmental protection.
- History of climatic changes, variations in the atmosphere.
- Meteorology, data collection and investigation method.
- Antarctic Geography and its influence on climate.
- Geology and proper use of soil.
Module 3: Economy and Environment.
- The environment from being a problem to being a resource.
- Failure of T.R. Malthus’ theories.
- Utilitarism, bounds and drifts. >From Jeremy Bentham to Peter Singer.
- From human capital to the social doctrine of the Church.
- Industrial revolution and globalization. Advantages and drawbacks.
- Economic analysis and solution of major environmental problems related to energy, transportation, commerce and industry.
- Liberal economic doctrine and protection of the environment.
- Shortage and abundance of resources.
- Food availability and population growth.
- Economic growth, demography and environmental impact.
- Sustainability, conditions and needs of development.
- Industrial activities and environmental development.
- Development economy and environmental protection.
- Waste processing: from being a problem to being a resource.
- Industry and environment: advantages and limits.
- Unsustainability of underdevelopment.
- Underdevelopment and environment.
- Sustainable development and human rights.
- Environmental impact of buildings and roads.
- Bioarchitecture and Christian Humanism.
- Architecture and respect for the environment.
Module 4: Bioethics and environmental issues
- Bioethics, animal and vegetable biotechnologies.
- Vegetable immunizations and second-generation biotechnologies.
- Xenotransplant ethics.
- Notes on animal clonation.
- Animal engineering: technical purposes, possible risks and benefits.
- Vegetable biotechnologies, ethical remarks.
- Environmental impact of animal breeding.
- History of animal breeding for human feeding purposes and the “mad cow” disease.
- Ethics and environment, the role and concept of man.
Module 5: Legislation, Rights and Jurisprudence.
- Fundamentals of environmental legislation.
- European and Italian legislation.
- Epistemological bases of environmental Law.
- Industry and environmental legislation.
- Consumers’ Associations and quality of life.
- Human rights and animal rights.
- Patents and Patent regulations on biotechnologies: ethical and legal aspects.
- G.M.O.: International and European legislation.
- V.I.A. (Assessment of Environmental Impact).
- Environmental consulting for productive activities.
Module 6: Environment, information and the mass- media.
- Scientific knowledge and public information.
- Environment: the grossest errors in its evaluation.
- Energy and information.
- Analysis of information sources through the internet.
- Accidents, risks and catastrophism.
- Environment and ecological disasters .
- Scientific-Medical Information Observatory.
- Radiations: Between fears and certainties.
- Professional Correctness and Scientific Information.
- Websites about the environment.
- Computer-Lab work-sessions.
- Experimental research projects.
- Internships, International meetings and on-field demos.