What I'm Reading: "Laudato Si'"

A version of this article appeared in the September 30, 2016 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Papal encyclicals are usually not something the average person would pick up as a summer read, but Laudato Si’ may be an exception to that rule. Past encyclicals focused on Roman Catholic doctrine that concerned only those who are in communion with the church. With Laudato Si’, Pope Francis speaks to all humanity and discusses a diversity of concerns germane to most educational institutions’ missions to prepare students for responsible global citizenship.

While the encyclical is clearly a call for greater care of the environment, it also exhorts us to encourage our students to be critical thinkers and to take action on a wide range of global issues. Whether it is the relationship between the poor and the fragility of the planet, or the need to address human trafficking, Pope Francis makes it clear that "what is at stake is our own dignity."

The pope writes that solving complex global issues requires that "no branch of the sciences and no form of wisdom" can be left out of the equation. In this way, he ultimately calls for a deeper understanding of how we are all connected and reinforces the need for liberally educated citizens.