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Union to address environmental ethics at upcoming conference

JACKSON, Tenn.March 9, 2001 – How close are we to the brink of an environmental crisis? Is there a Judeo-Christian environmental ethic? Is it ethical to feed people if it results in an increase in the population and more hunger? How can we change the attitudes and habits of people with regard to care of the earth?

Experts will answer these questions and more at the "Caring for Creation: An Environmental Ethics Conference" at Union University, March 19-20. The conference is sponsored jointly by Union's Center for Scientific Study, the Lyceum lecture series, and the Scholar-in-Residence program.

For many, faith, science, and ecology have nothing to do with one another, but the conference will explore and rethink ways that scientific and faith perspectives can provide wisdom on how to care for the earth.

"No other species has had as much impact on the environment as man," said Wayne Wofford, Union professor of biology. "Due to human activities, plant and animal species are disappearing at one thousand times the rate of any other era in earth's history. We must act quickly and responsibly to avoid irreparable damage to God's creation."

E. David Cook
Jack Weir
David Cook will speak Monday, March 19 at 10 a.m. in the G.M. Savage Memorial Chapel regarding people who are abusers or stewards of the earth. Director of the Whitfield Institute in Great Britain, Cook also serves as fellow and chaplain of Green College, Oxford University and is an internationally known medical ethicist and member on the Queen's medical advisory council for the United Kingdom. Cook is also the Scholar-in-Residence at Union for this spring semester.

Jack Weir, professor of philosophy at Morehead State University, will speak Monday at 11:30 a.m. in Coburn Dining Room about cases in environmental ethics. Weir has published 37 articles in scholarly journals on environmental ethics, and other issues and has presented more than 80 papers at professional meetings. He is also a prolific publisher in non-academic periodicals.

Wofford and Randall Bush, professor of Christian studies and philosophy, will be featured in Harvey Hall from 3-4:30 p.m. Wofford, director of the Edward P. Hammons Center for Scientific Studies, will speak on "How Close are we to the Brink? The Scientific Perspective." Bush, who directs Union's Interdisciplinary Honors program will give a lecture titled, "For the Beauty of the Earth: What Can Aesthetics Contribute to Environmental Ethics?"

Frederick Ferre, professor emeritus of philosophy at the University of Georgia, will speak from 6-7 p.m. in Harvey Hall. As keynote speaker, Ferre will address the issues of organisms, people, and environmental ethics.

To conclude the conference, Greg Thornbury, instructor of Christian studies at Union, will moderate a panel discussion led by conference participants at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, March 20.

The conference is open to the public, and admission is free. For more information, call the Center for Scientific Study at (901) 661-5301, or visit Union's website at www.uu.edu.

Media contact: Sara B. Horn, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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