Professor Alison Milbank | JUST WORLD?

How does God call us to balance the interests of people and planet?

17 October 2023, 6.30pm – 7.45pm | ONLINE | Book your place HERE

Drawing on Catholic social teaching, what is the common good approach to the conflicting interests of environmental crisis and social injustice?
Increasingly the debates around climate and social injustice are becoming polarised. Environmental concerns are often perceived as Western or middle class by poor and working people, and in its passion for the planet, the mainstream eco-trend is getting drawn into anti-humanism. Post Covid, governments and big corporations are provoking a growing resistance as they default to top down approaches in which sustainability becomes a reason to centralise power. To avoid further alienation it is vital to address this loss of agency and find common good approaches to the apparently conflicting interests of environmental crisis and social injustice.
Our faith traditions can help us to see that these two crises are in fact parts of a broader complex crisis. In particular, Catholic social thought, a deep and coherent framework rooted in Scripture, can equip us to think more creatively. This tradition reveals how systems need to change to address the climate crisis but insists we balance the interests of the Earth with the agency and livelihoods of families and communities, especially the poor. Its principle of integral ecology demands that primarily we should be thinking in terms of relationship: with nature, with each other, with God. It asks us to identify ways to integrate environmental considerations within a coherent economic and industrial strategy that enables communities to thrive.

Alison Milbank is uniquely placed to stir an imaginative common good discussion on this complex problem. Investigating the interconnectedness between human beings and the natural world, she will address social and environmental considerations through the British poetic tradition and the unfolding vocation of the church in our time. Anchored in Christian anthropology and cosmology, she will open up global questions about the connections between human agency, the dignity of work and the stewardship of nature. Grounding this within the local life of the parish, asserting the importance and particularity of place, she will show how love of neighbour, thriving communities and care of the Earth are inseparable.

Alison Milbank is Professor of Theology and Literature at the University of Nottingham and has authored many books. She is Priest Vicar and Canon Theologian at Southwell Minster, and co-founder of the Save the Parish movement. Alison is the author of many books, the latest of which is The Once and Future Parish (SCM, 2023).