WFU faculty experts and business leader to converge in Charlotte to discuss climate change

by C. Mark Batten,, Office of Communications

The world needs an ecological conversion.

That is the core message of Pope Francis’ powerful encyclical letter Laudato Sí (Praised Be). The human species has managed to run up a sizeable ecological deficit on all our earthly accounts—soil, water, and climate. From the way we feed ourselves, power our buildings, and transport our bodies, the evidence is clear: we need to transition away from fossil fuels and start building a clean energy economy. As Pope Francis’ encyclical makes clear, Christianity has a key role to play in preserving this earth, our common home.

On Feb. 16, Wake Forest University School of Divinity will convene a panel discussion in Charlotte, bringing three nationally recognized experts to discuss issues of environmental justice.

More event details »
Panelists include entrepreneur and conservative philanthropist, Jay Faison, founder and managing partner of ClearPath Foundation, who recently pledged $175 million in creating conservative-based solutions for global warming; School of Divinity professor Elizabeth O’Donnell Gandolfo, who teaches in the area of Catholic and Latin American studies; and Miles Silman, The Andrew Sabin Family Foundation Presidential Chair in Conservation Biology at Wake Forest University.  The panel will be moderated by Fred Bahnson, Assistant Professor of the Practice of Ecological Well-Being and Director of the Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative at the School of Divinity.

The event begins at 7 p.m. at the Wake Forest University Charlotte Center (200 N. College Street, Charlotte) and is free and open to the public. Advance registration is requested.

“At the School of Divinity, attention to ecological vocation in theological education is not a side program, but is understood to reside at the heart of the Gospel,” said Gail R. O’Day, Dean of the School of Divinity.

Though located in Winston-Salem, Wake Forest University School of Divinity has been offering programs in Western North Carolina over the past four years. The School of Divinity has emerged as a national leader in addressing ecological well-being, climate change, and food justice, with a specific niche in training and equipping faith leaders. Through the Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative, the school trains future leaders through a 15-credit certificate program in Food and Faith nested within the Master of Divinity degree.

The initiative also offers a robust continuing-education program. The initiative’s workshops, conferences, and retreats have attracted hundreds of participants from 17 states and five countries, from 10 colleges including Exeter University in England, and from more than a dozen Christian denominations, as well as from other faiths. Every June the school convenes a five-day summer immersion course in Food, Faith, and Ecology in the North Carolina mountains.

Learn more about how to become a partner with the Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative, join the mailing list to receive updates, and how to attend an upcoming continuing education event.

For more information about the Master of Divinity program, the Food and Faith concentration, and admissions, visit

Categories: Faculty, Media Advisory, Religious Leadership and Food, Health, and Ecology, Special Events