Skip to main content

October 2015

Vatican Leader Cardinal Peter Turkson Headlines Santa Clara University Conference Nov. 3-4, on Silicon Valley Response to Pope Francis’s Environmental Encyclical

Nov. 3-4 events feature Silicon Valley leaders and experts discussing ways to further the climate goals of Pope Francis’s historic document

Cardinal Peter Turkson, a Vatican authority on the Pope's climate-change-focused encyclical teachings, will headline a conference at Santa Clara University Nov. 3-4

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Oct. 13, 2015  -- Responding to the teachings of Pope Francis to engage in dialogue about the challenges and needs of planet earth in an era of intense climate degradation, Santa Clara University is hosting a two-day conference, Our Future on a Shared Planet: Silicon Valley in Conversation with the Environmental Teachings of Pope Francis. 

In June, Pope Francis released the encyclical called "Laudato Si" ("Praise Be") on the environment and the global challenge of climate change. The 184-page document is unprecedented in the long history of Catholicism, and offers a rich opportunity to bring together experts from science, economics, business, politics, religion, and more, around one of the most pressing issues of our time.

The conference at Santa Clara University (SCU) will be headlined by Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, who is widely acknowledged as one of the most influential Vatican authorities on the content of the encyclical.

“This conference will bring together people from faith communities and other important sectors who share concern about the consequences of environmental degradation," said Michael Engh, S.J., president of Santa Clara University. "Santa Clara University is pleased to host the conversation on how we might join our talents and motivation toward creative solutions to this global challenge. Jesuit education has as its fundamental purpose to establish a dialogue between faith and culture.”

Public events on Nov. 3 will include a liturgy at 11:30 a.m., celebrated by Cardinal Turkson, followed by a 3 p.m. keynote address by the Cardinal. Both events will be in the University’s Mission Church (500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, Calif., 95053).  A full list of events and registration information is available at 

Media  interested in interviewing Cardinal Turkson or other speakers should contact Deborah Lohse of SCU Media Relations, or 408-554-5121.

After each speaker, respondents from Santa Clara University or Silicon Valley will provide additional comments and invite discussion. Thane Kreiner, Ph.D., executive director of SCU’s Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, will serve as respondent for Cardinal Turkson’s address.

Public events on Nov. 4 ($25 admission/free for students) will take place in the University's Paul L. Locatelli, S.J., Student Activity Center, and will include talks by: 

*San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, who traveled to the Vatican in July to discuss climate solutions with Pope Francis (Pancho Guevara, executive director of Sacred Heart Community Service, respondent);

* UC San Diego Scripps Institution of Oceanography atmospheric and climate science professor Veerabhadran Ramanathan, an expert on the impact of climate change on the world’s oceans, who serves on the Pontifical Academy of Sciences  (SCU environmental studies and sciences professor Iris Stewart Frey, respondent);   

* Stanford environmental science professor Gretchen Daily, co-founder of the conservationist Natural Capital Project and a pioneer in viewing nature preservation as vital to achieving economic, civic, and safety goals. Daily participated in a summer 2014 Vatican conference on sustainability (SCU economics professor William Sundstrom, respondent);

*Former Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers green-tech investment manager John Denniston,who has created the startup Shared-X to invest in and advance sustainable agricultural practices, and is also president of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul District Council, San Mateo County (Ann Skeet, director of leadership ethics at SCU’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, respondent).  

“The pope’s encyclical challenges us, at a time of unprecedented climate crisis, to reimagine the way human beings relate to the natural world,” said David DeCosse, director of campus ethics with the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, who coordinated the conference. “Where better than Silicon Valley, the innovation capital of the world, to imagine new paths and find solutions to reverse climate degradation?” 

About Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its more than 9,000 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, and engineering; master’s degrees in business, education, counseling psychology, pastoral ministry, and theology; and law degrees and engineering Ph.D.s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, California’s oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information,

Media Contact
Deborah Lohse | SCU Media Relations | | 408-554-5121

Press Release