Conference to look at threat of climate change


Luke Schrum | staff writer

In an attempt to understand the importance of maintaining a healthy planet, the fifth annual Presidential Conference on the Integrity of Creation (IOC) is hosting “Towards a Health Planet” on Sept. 24 and Sept. 25 in the Dougherty Ballroom at the Power Center.

The conference will begin on Sept. 24 and run through Sept. 25. It will address the threat of climate change from several interdisciplinary perspectives.

In order to boost student engagement with the conference and simplify involvement for students with busy schedules, the IOC will be hosting a screening of “The Land of Mountains” at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 24 in the Dougherty Ballroom. The film sheds light on the situation of children and families in Haiti who are being cared for at the St. Damien Pediatric hospital. Glory Smith, academic advisor and clinical liaison in the Center of Healthcare Ethics explained.

“We’ve selected these films hoping that it’s the students who are going to [view] them” Smith said. “We’re also going to have snacks and popcorn for [attendees] to the screening” Smith said.

“The Land of Mountains” also features a clinician from St. Damien who is currently studying at Duquesne.

“One of our Ph.D. students was actually in Haiti working at the pediatric hospital for the last eight years and he’s featured in the film. He’s now a Ph.D. student with us, but his passion is still [in Haiti]” Smith said.

Marking five years since the inaugural conference, the IOC is looking to increase the scope of the event including more opportunities for student-researchers.

“This is our fifth year anniversary, and we’re trying to make this a bigger venue than ever before. We’re going to have 15 faculty fellows join us in suggesting ways to get students involved including ways to get their students published” Smith said.

The multi-faceted conference continues to grow and expand through its benefits to students and the global community. St. Michael’s, an Irish School of the Spiritan Education Trust, will be presenting a Spiritan Global Citizenship Education program.

“[We] have the research, academics, conference proceedings as well as the outreach. This year one of the special things we’re doing is outreach to schools [around the world]. One of the highlights to the conference will be Ronan Barry and five of his students from St. Michael’s… traveling to Pittsburgh to be part of the conference” Smith said.

The event will begin with opening remarks by President Ken Gormley followed by presentations. Featured scholars and professionals from various disciplines including science, law, policy, ethics, health and religion will discuss the approach to achieving a healthy planet. By engaging the various participants in interdisciplinary discussion, the conference looks to open civil discourse on the subject of environmental protection.

The complete conference schedule and registration for lunch on Sept. 25 can be found at The conference is both free and open to the public.