The network of Catholic universities organizes an event on sustainable development


SACRU, a network of Catholic universities, is organizing an online seminar for doctoral students to share their research on sustainability and environmental development.

By Vatican News reporter

As the world’s attention focuses on COP26 in Glasgow, 26 doctoral students from 8 Catholic universities around the world present their research on sustainability at an online seminar held from November 8-11.

The event is the first organized by SACRU, the Strategic Alliance of Catholic Research Universities, made up of institutions in Australia, Chile, Japan, the United States and Europe.

The initiative is called “A Sustainable Future: Research Impacting the 21st Century”.

University without walls

Pier Sandro Cocconcelli, professor of microbiology at the University of the Sacred Heart of Rome and Secretary General of SACRU, spoke with Alessandro Di Bussolo of Vatican News about the network and the webinar.

He said SACRU’s goal is to create a “university without walls”, which currently has over 200,000 students, with nearly 12,000 professors and researchers.

“All together, these universities are united by their Catholic identity, as well as their ability to engage in research,” he said. “The first objective is to train future generations with the idea that openness to the world and the ability to work together with other nations is an essential element of a university’s curriculum; in other words, to train people to deal with the complexity of the global system.

With such a vast network, students from the 8 universities will be in a good position to conduct multidisciplinary research and turn this knowledge into applications for everyday life for the good of the planet.

SACRU official logo

Global Pact for Education

Professor Cocconcelli linked the creation of SACRU to the Global Pact on Education, requested by Pope Francis.

The 5 thematic areas and 7 commitments of the Pact for the DNA of the 8 SACRU universities, according to the professor.

“The common objective of all Catholic universities,” he said, “is to focus attention on the human person, to listen to the younger generations, to promote women, to empower families, to open up people to others, then to work on economics and politics. and build our common home.

Research for the future of our planet

The SACRU was established in 2019, and after just one face-to-face meeting, all other initiatives were held online due to the pandemic.

Professor Cocconcelli said this situation has prompted organizers and students to expand their research activities to other continents, beyond the limits and costs imposed by in-person gatherings.

This week’s webinar, he added, is focused on doctoral students whose research focuses on sustainable development in an interdisciplinary context, including the life sciences, economics and social sciences.

“Twenty-eight research projects were chosen, and as is usually the case in scientific conferences, students will present their work and open the floor for discussions,” said the professor. “Our role as teachers will primarily be to help students exchange information on the topic of sustainable development.

SACRU Event Series

The webinar is just the first in a series of initiatives launched by SACRU.

Another conference will be held on November 12 to discuss the impact of the pandemic and

confinements on family life.

Then, on November 18, SACRU will host a presentation at the Dubai Expo during Tolerance Week.

Three representatives will be on hand to demonstrate how the alliance can be a model for other universities, as well as an opportunity to expand SACRU through collaborations with other research networks.

Presentation video of the SACRU network

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