Guest speakers and presentations

Common Ground 2018 Conference – Register here


Martin Manning

One Earth, One Future, One People

Professor Martin Manning has worked across several areas of science from theoretical physics to climate change. From 2002 to 2007, he was on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change senior management team that produced the Fourth Assessment Report for governments and won the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore. He has been author of more than sixty peer reviewed papers and reports as well as more than twenty chapters in books on climate change. As inaugural Director of the New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute at Victoria University of Wellington, he led an interdisciplinary study on New Zealand’s capacity to adapt to climate change and is now working with iwi land owners on adapting to sea level rise. Martin has also remained a practising Catholic through all of this.

For more than two hundred years, growth has been the dominant driver for society, whether it is in human population, food production, energy use, or technological development. But this has come with widespread and structural changes to the environment that we are dependent on in areas such as biodiversity, water quality and availability, as well as climate change. Scientists specialise in questions like: can re-engineering of DNA bring back species such as the mammoth? what is the best way of removing salt from seawater? will the ozone layer recover to what is was fifty years ago? or how predictable is sea level fifty years from now? But generally, we postpone or avoid the more serious ones like: when should we open up New Zealand to Pacific islanders whose homes are going underwater? or, if the Syrian war was triggered by climate change causing a drought worse than any it had seen for over 900 years, how much responsibility do I bear for that?

Development of a broader social response to major changes in our world is becoming recognised as a key issue. Plastic pollution in rivers and oceans has hit the headlines and there is now a growing response, but could this problem have been totally avoided? Dis-investment from the fossil fuel industry is also growing, but the rate of uptake of renewable energy is still too slow to keep global warming below 2°C. Religious groups have a long history of caring for the poor, and this has expanded to cover our increasing number of global refugees, but will there be some limit to what can be managed that way? How do we achieve a broader social involvement?

Dealing with all these problems, their inter-connections with each other, and sometimes having to learn the hard way, is going to involve a continuing myriad of different approaches. We are inadequately prepared for such new responsibilities, but Teilhard de Chardin argued that a rise in our consciousness can drive a deeper form of human evolution with more collective responses across society. My over-simplified version of this is: we need to start loving all of our neighbours more than ourselves.

Emily Colgan

A Place to Call Home?
Reading the Bible from the Perspective of Earth

Abstract will be available soon.

Dr Emily Colgan is Lecturer in Biblical Studies at Trinity Methodist Theological College. Her research focuses on the relationship between the Bible and contemporary social imaginaries, asking about the degree to which the ideologies contained within biblical texts continue to inform communities in the present. Emily is particularly interested in ecological representations in the Bible, as well as depictions of gender and violence.

Her most recent publication is a multi-volume work, which she co-edited with Caroline Blyth and Katie Edwards entitled Rape Culture, Gender Violence, and Religion (Palgrave, 2018).

She is currently working on an ecological commentary of the Book of Jeremiah for the Earth Bible Commentary series (Bloomsbury T&T Clark). Emily has written chapters in Sexuality, Ideology and the Bible: Antipodean Engagements (Sheffield Phoenix, 2015), The Nature of Things: Rediscovering the Spiritual in God’s Creation (Wipf and Stock, 2016), The Bible and Art: Perspectives from Oceania (Bloomsbury, 2017), and The Oxford Handbook on Bible and Ecology (Oxford University, forthcoming).

Matthew Mataamua

Bio and abstract to be provided.

Matt will speak about wellbeing for tangata whenua.

Grant Robertson MP

Bio and abstract to be provided

Grant will speak about the triple bottom line: people, environment and economy.

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