Mercer to Host Conference in Macon
on Faith, Science and the Environment

September 14, 2009

Conference Web site:
http://www2.mercer.edu/caring

Media Contact:
Mark Vanderhoek
(478) 301-4037

MACON — Mercer University, in partnership with the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, will hold a conference, titled “Caring for Creation: A Scientific and Theological Response,” on the Macon campus Oct. 29-31. The conference will include two days of lectures and discussions on Oct. 29 and 30 and will conclude with a green day of service in the Macon community on Saturday, Oct. 31.

The conference aims to bridge the current gap between the faith and science communities on issues of climate change. The conference’s goal is to engage and inspire Mercer students and the Central Georgia community to answer the challenge of caring for God’s creation. The University held its first Caring for Creation conference in February on the Atlanta campus, and Macon faculty and students quickly pushed to organize a similar conference in Macon.

“This conference will not only serve as a platform to discuss pertinent issues of global climate change, but it will enable individuals to make tangible differences in their lives and community,” said Kathryn Doornbos, a senior biology major from Brasstown, N.C., and conference organizer. “Our day of service ensures that we will not merely be talking about the problem but taking steps to solve it. Any university could host philosophical debate about the science and theology of creation care, but only Mercer can take that discussion and find solutions in service.”

The event is part of Mercer’s efforts to help raise local awareness of climate change and creation care, in addition to its efforts to do so through service-learning and applied research. Organizers have developed the conference program to provide students and members of the community with the knowledge and skills needed to face these environmental challenges.

Topics for the event range from climate change to environmental justice and will include an array of speakers, including noted authors Jonathan Merritt and Sharon Astyk. Merritt, a faith and culture writer, will give the opening address on Oct. 29, along with author and ethicist Dr. David Gushee, Mercer’s Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics. The daylong program on Oct. 30 will include more than a dozen break-out sessions with prominent scientists, pastors, farmers, students and professors. In addition to the breakout sessions on Oct. 30, Astyk, a noted writer, teacher and subsistence farmer, will deliver the closing address of the conference.

“An academic institution should showcase the major concerns of the culture and it should promote interdisciplinary discourse,” said Dr. Mary Ann Drake, professor of interdisciplinary studies and co-chair of the conference’s organizing committee. “To ensure our sustainability requires the best and the brightest from our foundational traditions: religion and science. We need not only facts, but ethical codes of behavior to drive us to more reasonable ways of interacting with the greatest gift we have: our creation. This conference fulfills both needs.”

The conference is free to students and faculty and only $35 for the public and includes lunch on Oct. 30. All registrants will receive a free tote bag for participating in the event. For more information, including a full conference schedule, or to register for the conference, visit http://www2.mercer.edu/caring.

About Mercer University
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University enrolls more than 8,000 students in 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies – on major campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah and at three regional academic centers across the state. Mercer is affiliated with two teaching hospitals — Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah and the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, and has educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta. The University operates an academic press and a performing arts center in Macon and an engineering research center in Warner Robins. Mercer is the only private university in Georgia to field an NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit www.mercer.edu.
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