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Lecture Archives

Through the generosity of the Bannan family endowment, the Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education sponsors academic events and supports scholarship that specifically furthers the Jesuit, Catholic character of the University.

Past Bannan Institutes

From 2012-2015 the Ignatian Center offered three yearlong thematic Bannan Institutes. These Institutes carried on the long tradition of Bannan programs, speakers and events in a reimaged effort to engage Santa Clara University and the larger community. The topic of these Institutes spanned academic, public, and pastoral offerings around issues of contemporary religious, cultural, and theological debate.  

A Select Collection of Past Lectures

  • Not a Road Map but a Trail: Environmental Justice in the Commons

    Pedro Walpole, S.J.

    Ecology and economy share the same word origin and should be supportive of the whole of humanity and our common home and ‘oikos’ when both are balanced. But ecology and economy are becoming mutually exclusive. The commons is now in the hands of corporate extraction and pollution. The tollgates of technological intervention too often restrict the basic access of the most vulnerable to any form of sustainability. The path forward is not simply a flip-over of the present economic model. The path begins with every person and with every community so that we change from within and discover anew what we value and are willing to commit to in solidarity and in reconciliation.

  • The Moral Margins of Poverty and Prosperity

    Nicholas Santos, S.J.

    What are fair and just business practices when engaging with impoverished populations? This lecture will explore the integrative justice model (IJM), an ethical framework that provides guidelines for “fair” and “just” business involvement that can result in a win-win for all parties but particularly for the poor, counteracting the prevailing exploitation of impoverished and vulnerable groups.

  • Racial Justice, Theologically

    Vincent Lloyd, 16 February 2017

    Recent years have seen the largest protests against anti-Black racism since the civil rights movement a half century ago. Sometimes protesters invoke religious ideas, such as “beloved community,” but other times these protests seem decidedly secular. My talk locates the current struggle for racial justice in a long – but often forgotten – tradition of religiously-motivated social justice organizing that is oriented by appeals to God’s law.

  • I am climate change, I am the cause, I am the solution

    Carolyn Woo, 15 October 2015

    In Laudato Si, citing both Science and Theology, Pope Francis establishes the climate crisis as real, urgent, moral, and spiritual. He links the cry of the earth to the cry of the poor and casts it as expressions of the same underlying dynamics. The pope calls for a conversion of heart so that we can cherish the earth as God’s creation and gift to us and to lift up the dignity of people above profits, technology and globalization.

  • Is There a Common Good? Exploring the Politics of Inequality

    Matthew Carnes, S.J.

    Recent decades have seen an unprecedented decline in global poverty. Yet this progress has been accompanied by an increase in economic and social inequality, both internationally and domestically. What are the implications of this trend? What does it mean to pursue the common good today? This lecture will draw on recent social science scholarship and Catholic social teaching to chart the promises and pitfalls facing global and local communities today.

  • Scriptural Politics of Immigration

    Kristin Heyer

    The Hebrew and Christian scriptures are replete with examples of persons and families uprooted and migrating. The sacred texts' injunctions about hospitality to strangers do not readily resolve complex questions about competing goods driving contemporary immigration debates. Scriptures do have a key role to play in shaping our dispositions, imagination and moral reasoning. The lecture will explore the potential for scriptural narratives and themes to reveal migrant realities anew and inform an ethic of immigration.

  • Sacred Dialogues Across the Qur'an

    Ingrid Mattson

    During the period of revelation, believing men and women raised questions about the fairness of certain practices, and even about the way in which the Qur'an spoke about them. The fact that many of these concerns were addressed by the ongoing revelation is part of the Qur'anic message that needs to be better understood. The Qur'an is not just a collection of instructions to passive believers, but a responsive engagement with people created by God with intellects and consciences.

  • Looking at Vatican II with Pope Francis' Eyes - Leadership and Spirituality

    John W. O’Malley, S.J.

    From the moment Pope Francis appeared on the balcony of St. Peter's after his election, he caught the attention of the world and soon became acknowledged as one of the great leaders of our times. However, unlike his immediate predecessors he rarely speaks about Vatican II. Why? How, if at all, do his sometimes dramatic gestures relate to the council? The lecture will address such questions.

  • Interreligious Dialogue and Leadership - Building Relationships as Persons

    Rabbi Abraham Skorka

    The 20th century saw the displacement of the traditional religions in occident by new anthropocentric pagan doctrines, Fascism, Nazism, Stalinism, being among the most conspicuous examples of them. Since the seventies of the last century, and after the fall of those regimes, a return to the traditional religions occurred. But it was not a return to the tradition through a renew of the religiosity of its spirit, but a return, in many cases, to their fanatic expressions. The challenge of this lecture is to enhance a deep interreligious dialogue in order to build up a different reality in which the dramatic failures of the last century will not repeat in this century and forever.

  • A View from the Bus - Reflecting on the Axles of Faith and Justice

    Simone Campbell, S.S.S

    Sr. Simone Campbell, public advocate for peace-building, immigration reform, healthcare and economic justice will reflect on the integral relationship between faith and justice within her own vocation and share her journey as a “Nun on the Bus” to ignite social change.

  • Citizens and Leaders - The Public Role of the Humanities

    Martha Nussbaum

    People sometimes dismiss liberal arts education as useless. But any country needs citizens who can think critically, discuss world issues knowledgeably, and understand the point of view of someone whose background and interests differ from their own. These abilities are nourished by the humanities and the arts, so they play a vital role in education at all levels.

  • Encountering Jesus: Who Do You Say that I Am?

    James Martin, S.J.

    What does it mean to meet the Christ of faith and the Jesus of history? Can we come to know Jesus through the Gospels? Father Jim Martin, S.J., author of the New York Times bestseller Jesus: A Pilgrimage helps us to understand what the Son of God has to do with the carpenter from Nazareth.

  • Encounter, Engage, Create - Moral Imagination and Ignatian Leadership

    Maureen O’Connell

    Catholic Social Teaching was developed by Roman Catholic church leaders seeking to respond to the demands of justice in the 20th century. The three-step methodology of Catholic Social Teaching: “see->judge->act” offers an effective tool for responding to what popes and bishops call “the signs of the times” and have helped Catholics face everything from the industrial revolution and the Cuban Missile Crisis to economic development and presidential elections. But what if our 21st century context — with growing social inequality, debilitating racism and sexism, people on the move across borders, economies fueled by violence, polarized political debate and paralyzed political processes — necessitates a different praxis? What if we need a praxis that moves all people of good will, and not simply

  • Pearls, Prodigals, and Samaritans

    Amy-Jill Levine

    Story telling is a basic form of human communication, and the parables of Jesus -- brief narratives designed to challenge, to indict, and to inspire, and to do so often in humorous or satirical ways -- are among the best examples. Hearing the parables through first-century Jewish ears allows us to recover their original provocation and punch, and so to understand better what they might say to listeners today from various religious traditions.

  • The Universal Declaration as Sacred Text

    Michael John Perry

    The ongoing emergence of international human rights in the period from the end of the Second World War to the present can and perhaps should be understood as the emergence of a religion--albeit a profoundly ecumenical religion: one that religious believers of different faith traditions, and also nonbelievers, can and do embrace. On this understanding, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) functions as a sacred text: the sacred foundational text of the religion of human rights.

  • The Fragility of Faith - How Can a Thinking Person Still Believe in God?

    Michael McCarthy, S.J.

    Good people of many persuasions wonder how a thinking person can still believe in God. Still others wonder whether a university, as an academic institution, is a place where "God" should be openly discussed at all. Often enough, such questions make presumptions about faith that are frequently untrue. Attention to the real fragility of faith can open spaces for different kinds of discussions entirely.

  • Why Is God for Christians Good for Nothing?

    Terry Eagleton

    Atheists tend to claim that God is entirely pointless, and so does the doctrine of Creation. Here, at least, is some common ground between Richard Dawkins and Pope Francis. This talk will try among other things to spell out why God is pointless and why this is the whole point about God. It will also seek to remind us that when we claim that God is good, we have very little clue as to what we are talking about.

  • Earth and the Heavens - Contemplating the Cosmos

    Jennifer Wiseman

    Jennifer Wiseman is an American astronomer. She received her bachelor's degree in physics from MIT and her Ph.D. in Astronomy from Harvard University in 1995. Wiseman discovered periodic comet 114P/Wiseman-Skiff while working as an undergraduate research assistant in 1987. She currently directs the Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion for the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She also serves as a senior astrophysicist at NASA's Goddard space flight center. She enjoys giving talks about the beauty and excitement of science, astronomy, and discovery.

  • Unknowable Reality - Science, Mathematics, and Mystery

    Alex Zecevic

    This lecture will address the way modern science portrays physical "reality", and will highlight some key differences between the current paradigm and the more intuitive (but ultimately incorrect) Newtonian world view. The fact that complex processes are characterized by a mix of order and irreducible uncertainty suggests that the notion of a Cosmic Mystery is not at odds with recent scientific discoveries (quite the contrary, in fact). This recognition opens the door to a constructive dialogue between science and religion, which is capable of transcending the simplistic arguments of religious fundamentalists and proponents of radical secularism.

  • My Bright Abyss - Thoughts on Modern Belief

    Christian Wiman

    Moving among a variety of writings—poetry, prose, theology, biography—as well as experiences from his own life, Christian Wiman will examine what a credible Christian faith might look like at the beginning of the 21st century.

  • Well, I’ll be Damned! Considering Atheism in the United States Today

    Jerome Baggett

    In recent years a cultural space for public expressions of atheism and other forms of irreligion has opened up within American society. Both advocates of the so-called “new atheism” and its detractors have been enormously vocal, but we still know very little about everyday atheists beyond the popular – and very misleading – stereotypes about them. This presentation aims to get beyond those by taking a more considered, sociological look at American atheism, its connection to other nascent modes religious identification (the “nones,” the “spiritual but not religious,” agnostics, etc.), and its prospects for helping to engender a more thoughtful public conversation about the sacred and secular within contemporary society.