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BC Law Professors Join Global Pilot Project

Young and Kaveny to participate in multi-university effort to foster global ethics and social trust.


BC Law professors Katharine Young (above right) and Cathleen Kaveny are representing Boston College Law School as members of a new international and multi-university pilot project on Global Ethics and Social Trust (GEST). Funded by a Porticus Foundation grant, GEST is based at Boston College through a partnership between the Provost’s Office and the Schiller Institute for Integrated Sciences and Society. Scholars from research universities worldwide comprise the program’s two working groups, which seek to foster ethical knowledge and ethical practices about urgent global issues.

Young is the chair of the Climate Change and Migration working group, leading its efforts to rethink responses to migration in relation to the climate crisis. She is joined by experts in the fields of earth and environmental science, social work, psychology, theology, and agronomy.

“There may be no ethical challenge more immense than that wrought by our changing, and in some places now unlivable, climate,” says Young. “Migration due to environmental degradation or extreme weather events is often forced on the world’s most vulnerable people, who are least responsible. Our Working Group brings together renowned experts from Boston College and across the world to grapple with this profound challenge, and I look forward to the insights that will come in bridging the environmental and earth sciences, ethics, human rights, social work and law.”

Kaveny is a member of the working group on Democracy, Governance, and Education. The group’s combined expertise in law, theology, English, history, economics, ethics, and communications will guide its study on how democratic education can rebuild social trust.

“Recent Gallup polls show that Americans’ approval of the US Supreme Court is at an all-time low,” says Kaveny. “Many people simply do not respect or trust the highest court in the land, which is the institutional embodiment of the rule of law in our democratic republic. As a law professor and ethicist, this phenomenon deeply concerns me. I am looking forward to exploring this and other problems with my colleagues in the working group on Democracy, Governance, and Education, under the able leadership of Jonathan Laurence.”

Over the next two years, both groups will publish updates on their work and gather for a three-day conference at Boston College during the summers of 2024 and 2025. Each conference will feature presentations from working group members and guest speakers.

By setting an example on how to examine global issues from various perspectives, the program aims to foster multi-disciplinary collaboration among Catholic research universities worldwide, with Boston College as a starting point.

As principal investigator, James F. Keenan, SJ, is hopeful that the pilot project “will demonstrate that Boston College is uniquely capable of providing a model for engaging contemporary threats through imaginative, vigorous exemplary ethical engagements.”

Read more on BC News.