Laudato Si’ and the Great Lakes: Biology, Ethics, & Theology

Bharat RanganathanBharat Ranganathan


In his encyclical Laudato Si’ (2015), Pope Francis calls for an integral ecology, an ecology that transcends solely the language of the sciences and “takes us to the heart of what it is to be human” (#11). Given the relationship among God, humanity, and the environment, Francis commends thinking together biology, ethics, and theology to address contemporary environmental issues. But how should these disciplines be thought together? 

Drawing from Francis’s encyclical, we explore the application of an integral ecological framework in order to analyze and address the anthropogenic issues confronting the Great Lakes, with specific reference to Pacific salmon and pollutant bio-transportation. How has the introduction of Pacific salmon to the Great Lakes affected the ecology? What have the effects—negative and positive—been on the human community? And how might the integration of biology, ethics, and theology help analyze and address these issues? This presentation provides background for these issues, highlights important resources, and, with the shared grammar of an integral ecology, proposes some potential avenues forward.


Bharat Ranganathan is Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Center for Theology, Science and Human Flourishing and the Environmental Change Initiative. He studies religious ethics and moral and political philosophy and has longstanding interests in method and theory in the study of religion and the philosophy of religion. His current book project, On Helping One's Neighbor: Religious Ethics, Obligations to Others, and Severe Poverty, draws from conversations in Christian ethics and moral and political philosophy to develop a demanding account of obligations to assist the severely poor. 

This seminar is a part of the Environmental Change Initiative brown-bag lunch series. Feel free to bring your lunch. ECI will provide drinks and cookies.