There has been a tragic rise in the number of migrants seeking to flee from the growing poverty caused by environmental degradation. They are not recognized by international conventions as refugees; they bear the loss of the lives they have left behind, without enjoying any legal protection whatsoever. Sadly, there is widespread indifference to such suffering, which is even now taking place throughout our world. Our lack of response to these tragedies involving our brothers and sisters points to the loss of that sense of responsibility for our fellow men and women upon which all civil society is founded.
Many of those who possess more resources and economic or political power seem mostly to be concerned with masking the problems or concealing their symptoms, simply making efforts to reduce some of the negative impacts of climate change. However, many of these symptoms indicate that such effects will continue to worsen if we continue with current models of production and consumption. There is an urgent need to develop policies so that, in the next few years, the emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases can be drastically reduced, for example, substituting for fossil fuels and developing sources of renewable energy.
Worldwide there is minimal access to clean and renewable energy. There is still a need to develop adequate storage technologies. Some countries have made considerable progress, although it is far from constituting a significant proportion. Investments have also been made in means of production and transportation which consume less energy and require fewer raw materials, as well as in methods of construction and renovating buildings which improve their energy efficiency. But these good practices are still far from widespread. Other indicators of the present situation have to do with the depletion of natural resources.
We all know that it is not possible to sustain the present level of consumption in developed countries and wealthier sectors of society, where the habit of wasting and discarding has reached unprecedented levels. The exploitation of the planet has already exceeded acceptable limits and we still have not solved the problem of poverty. Fresh drinking water is an issue of primary importance, since it is indispensable for human life and for supporting terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.
Sources of fresh water are necessary for health care, agriculture and industry. Water supplies used to be relatively constant, but now in many places demand exceeds the sustainable supply, with dramatic consequences in the short and long term. Large cities dependent on significant supplies of water have experienced periods of shortage, and at critical moments these have not always been administered with sufficient oversight and impartiality.
Water poverty especially affects Africa where large sectors of the population have no access to safe drinking water or experience droughts which impede agricultural production. Some countries have areas rich in water while others endure drastic scarcity. One particularly serious problem is the quality of water available to the poor.
Every day, unsafe water results in many deaths and the spread of water-related diseases, including those caused by microorganisms and chemical substances. Dysentery and cholera, linked to inadequate hygiene and water supplies, are a significant cause of suffering and of infant mortality. Underground water sources in many places are threatened by the pollution produced in certain mining, farming and industrial activities, especially in countries lacking adequate regulation or controls. It is not only a question of industrial waste.
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Detergents and chemical products, commonly used in many places of the world, continue to pour into our rivers, lakes and seas. Even as the quality of available water is constantly diminishing, in some places there is a growing tendency, despite its scarcity, to privatize this resource, turning it into a commodity subject to the laws of the market.
Yet access to safe drinkable water is a basic and universal human right, since it is essential to human survival and, as such, is a condition for the exercise of other human rights. Our world has a grave social debt towards the poor who lack access to drinking water, because they are denied the right to a life consistent with their inalienable dignity.
This debt can be paid partly by an increase in funding to provide clean water and sanitary services among the poor. But water continues to be wasted, not only in the developed world but also in developing countries which possess it in abundance. This shows that the problem of water is partly an educational and cultural issue, since there is little awareness of the seriousness of such behaviour within a context of great inequality. Greater scarcity of water will lead to an increase in the cost of food and the various products which depend on its use.
Some studies warn that an acute water shortage may occur within a few decades unless urgent action is taken. The environmental repercussions could affect billions of people; it is also conceivable that the control of water by large multinational businesses may become a major source of conflict in this century. The loss of forests and woodlands entails the loss of species which may constitute extremely important resources in the future, not only for food but also for curing disease and other uses. Different species contain genes which could be key resources in years ahead for meeting human needs and regulating environmental problems.
Each year sees the disappearance of thousands of plant and animal species which we will never know, which our children will never see, because they have been lost for ever. The great majority become extinct for reasons related to human activity. Because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence, nor convey their message to us. We have no such right.
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It may well disturb us to learn of the extinction of mammals or birds, since they are more visible. But the good functioning of ecosystems also requires fungi, algae, worms, insects, reptiles and an innumerable variety of microorganisms. Some less numerous species, although generally unseen, nonetheless play a critical role in maintaining the equilibrium of a particular place. Human beings must intervene when a geosystem reaches a critical state. But nowadays, such intervention in nature has become more and more frequent. As a consequence, serious problems arise, leading to further interventions; human activity becomes ubiquitous, with all the risks which this entails.
Often a vicious circle results, as human intervention to resolve a problem further aggravates the situation. For example, many birds and insects which disappear due to synthetic agrotoxins are helpful for agriculture: We must be grateful for the praiseworthy efforts being made by scientists and engineers dedicated to finding solutions to man-made problems. But a sober look at our world shows that the degree of human intervention, often in the service of business interests and consumerism, is actually making our earth less rich and beautiful, ever more limited and grey, even as technological advances and consumer goods continue to abound limitlessly.
We seem to think that we can substitute an irreplaceable and irretrievable beauty with something which we have created ourselves. In assessing the environmental impact of any project, concern is usually shown for its effects on soil, water and air, yet few careful studies are made of its impact on biodiversity, as if the loss of species or animals and plant groups were of little importance. Highways, new plantations, the fencing-off of certain areas, the damming of water sources, and similar developments, crowd out natural habitats and, at times, break them up in such a way that animal populations can no longer migrate or roam freely.
As a result, some species face extinction. Alternatives exist which at least lessen the impact of these projects, like the creation of biological corridors, but few countries demonstrate such concern and foresight. Frequently, when certain species are exploited commercially, little attention is paid to studying their reproductive patterns in order to prevent their depletion and the consequent imbalance of the ecosystem.
Caring for ecosystems demands far-sightedness, since no one looking for quick and easy profit is truly interested in their preservation. But the cost of the damage caused by such selfish lack of concern is much greater than the economic benefits to be obtained. Where certain species are destroyed or seriously harmed, the values involved are incalculable. We can be silent witnesses to terrible injustices if we think that we can obtain significant benefits by making the rest of humanity, present and future, pay the extremely high costs of environmental deterioration.
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Some countries have made significant progress in establishing sanctuaries on land and in the oceans where any human intervention is prohibited which might modify their features or alter their original structures. In the protection of biodiversity, specialists insist on the need for particular attention to be shown to areas richer both in the number of species and in endemic, rare or less protected species.
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Certain places need greater protection because of their immense importance for the global ecosystem, or because they represent important water reserves and thus safeguard other forms of life. Let us mention, for example, those richly biodiverse lungs of our planet which are the Amazon and the Congo basins, or the great aquifers and glaciers. We know how important these are for the entire earth and for the future of humanity.
The ecosystems of tropical forests possess an enormously complex biodiversity which is almost impossible to appreciate fully, yet when these forests are burned down or levelled for purposes of cultivation, within the space of a few years countless species are lost and the areas frequently become arid wastelands. A delicate balance has to be maintained when speaking about these places, for we cannot overlook the huge global economic interests which, under the guise of protecting them, can undermine the sovereignty of individual nations. The replacement of virgin forest with plantations of trees, usually monocultures, is rarely adequately analyzed.
Yet this can seriously compromise a biodiversity which the new species being introduced does not accommodate. Similarly, wetlands converted into cultivated land lose the enormous biodiversity which they formerly hosted. In some coastal areas the disappearance of ecosystems sustained by mangrove swamps is a source of serious concern.
Selective forms of fishing which discard much of what they collect continue unabated. Particularly threatened are marine organisms which we tend to overlook, like some forms of plankton; they represent a significant element in the ocean food chain, and species used for our food ultimately depend on them. In tropical and subtropical seas, we find coral reefs comparable to the great forests on dry land, for they shelter approximately a million species, including fish, crabs, molluscs, sponges and algae.
It is aggravated by the rise in temperature of the oceans. All of this helps us to see that every intervention in nature can have consequences which are not immediately evident, and that certain ways of exploiting resources prove costly in terms of degradation which ultimately reaches the ocean bed itself. Greater investment needs to be made in research aimed at understanding more fully the functioning of ecosystems and adequately analyzing the different variables associated with any significant modification of the environment.
Because all creatures are connected, each must be cherished with love and respect, for all of us as living creatures are dependent on one another. Each area is responsible for the care of this family. This will require undertaking a careful inventory of the species which it hosts, with a view to developing programmes and strategies of protection with particular care for safeguarding species heading towards extinction. Human beings too are creatures of this world, enjoying a right to life and happiness, and endowed with unique dignity.
Nowadays, for example, we are conscious of the disproportionate and unruly growth of many cities, which have become unhealthy to live in, not only because of pollution caused by toxic emissions but also as a result of urban chaos, poor transportation, and visual pollution and noise. Many cities are huge, inefficient structures, excessively wasteful of energy and water.
Neighbourhoods, even those recently built, are congested, chaotic and lacking in sufficient green space. We were not meant to be inundated by cement, asphalt, glass and metal, and deprived of physical contact with nature. The social dimensions of global change include the effects of technological innovations on employment, social exclusion, an inequitable distribution and consumption of energy and other services, social breakdown, increased violence and a rise in new forms of social aggression, drug trafficking, growing drug use by young people, and the loss of identity.
These are signs that the growth of the past two centuries has not always led to an integral development and an improvement in the quality of life. Some of these signs are also symptomatic of real social decline, the silent rupture of the bonds of integration and social cohesion. Furthermore, when media and the digital world become omnipresent, their influence can stop people from learning how to live wisely, to think deeply and to love generously.
In this context, the great sages of the past run the risk of going unheard amid the noise and distractions of an information overload. Efforts need to be made to help these media become sources of new cultural progress for humanity and not a threat to our deepest riches. True wisdom, as the fruit of self-examination, dialogue and generous encounter between persons, is not acquired by a mere accumulation of data which eventually leads to overload and confusion, a sort of mental pollution. Real relationships with others, with all the challenges they entail, now tend to be replaced by a type of internet communication which enables us to choose or eliminate relationships at whim, thus giving rise to a new type of contrived emotion which has more to do with devices and displays than with other people and with nature.
Yet at times they also shield us from direct contact with the pain, the fears and the joys of others and the complexity of their personal experiences. For this reason, we should be concerned that, alongside the exciting possibilities offered by these media, a deep and melancholic dissatisfaction with interpersonal relations, or a harmful sense of isolation, can also arise. The human environment and the natural environment deteriorate together; we cannot adequately combat environmental degradation unless we attend to causes related to human and social degradation. In fact, the deterioration of the environment and of society affects the most vulnerable people on the planet: The impact of present imbalances is also seen in the premature death of many of the poor, in conflicts sparked by the shortage of resources, and in any number of other problems which are insufficiently represented on global agendas.
It needs to be said that, generally speaking, there is little in the way of clear awareness of problems which especially affect the excluded. These days, they are mentioned in international political and economic discussions, but one often has the impression that their problems are brought up as an afterthought, a question which gets added almost out of duty or in a tangential way, if not treated merely as collateral damage.
Indeed, when all is said and done, they frequently remain at the bottom of the pile. This is due partly to the fact that many professionals, opinion makers, communications media and centres of power, being located in affluent urban areas, are far removed from the poor, with little direct contact with their problems. This lack of physical contact and encounter, encouraged at times by the disintegration of our cities, can lead to a numbing of conscience and to tendentious analyses which neglect parts of reality. Today, however, we have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.
Instead of resolving the problems of the poor and thinking of how the world can be different, some can only propose a reduction in the birth rate. It is an attempt to legitimize the present model of distribution, where a minority believes that it has the right to consume in a way which can never be universalized, since the planet could not even contain the waste products of such consumption. Inequity affects not only individuals but entire countries; it compels us to consider an ethics of international relations. The export of raw materials to satisfy markets in the industrialized north has caused harm locally, as for example in mercury pollution in gold mining or sulphur dioxide pollution in copper mining.
There is a pressing need to calculate the use of environmental space throughout the world for depositing gas residues which have been accumulating for two centuries and have created a situation which currently affects all the countries of the world. The warming caused by huge consumption on the part of some rich countries has repercussions on the poorest areas of the world, especially Africa, where a rise in temperature, together with drought, has proved devastating for farming.
There is also the damage caused by the export of solid waste and toxic liquids to developing countries, and by the pollution produced by companies which operate in less developed countries in ways they could never do at home, in the countries in which they raise their capital: They do here what they would never do in developed countries or the so-called first world. The foreign debt of poor countries has become a way of controlling them, yet this is not the case where ecological debt is concerned.
In different ways, developing countries, where the most important reserves of the biosphere are found, continue to fuel the development of richer countries at the cost of their own present and future. The land of the southern poor is rich and mostly unpolluted, yet access to ownership of goods and resources for meeting vital needs is inhibited by a system of commercial relations and ownership which is structurally perverse.
The developed countries ought to help pay this debt by significantly limiting their consumption of non-renewable energy and by assisting poorer countries to support policies and programmes of sustainable development. The poorest areas and countries are less capable of adopting new models for reducing environmental impact because they lack the wherewithal to develop the necessary processes and to cover their costs.
We must continue to be aware that, regarding climate change, there are differentiated responsibilities. There are no frontiers or barriers, political or social, behind which we can hide, still less is there room for the globalization of indifference. These situations have caused sister earth, along with all the abandoned of our world, to cry out, pleading that we take another course.
Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years. Yet we are called to be instruments of God our Father, so that our planet might be what he desired when he created it and correspond with his plan for peace, beauty and fullness. The problem is that we still lack the culture needed to confront this crisis.
We lack leadership capable of striking out on new paths and meeting the needs of the present with concern for all and without prejudice towards coming generations. The establishment of a legal framework which can set clear boundaries and ensure the protection of ecosystems has become indispensable; otherwise, the new power structures based on the techno-economic paradigm may overwhelm not only our politics but also freedom and justice. It is remarkable how weak international political responses have been. The failure of global summits on the environment make it plain that our politics are subject to technology and finance.
There are too many special interests, and economic interests easily end up trumping the common good and manipulating information so that their own plans will not be affected. Consequently the most one can expect is superficial rhetoric, sporadic acts of philanthropy and perfunctory expressions of concern for the environment, whereas any genuine attempt by groups within society to introduce change is viewed as a nuisance based on romantic illusions or an obstacle to be circumvented.
Some countries are gradually making significant progress, developing more effective controls and working to combat corruption. People may well have a growing ecological sensitivity but it has not succeeded in changing their harmful habits of consumption which, rather than decreasing, appear to be growing all the more.
A simple example is the increasing use and power of air-conditioning. The markets, which immediately benefit from sales, stimulate ever greater demand. An outsider looking at our world would be amazed at such behaviour, which at times appears self-destructive. In the meantime, economic powers continue to justify the current global system where priority tends to be given to speculation and the pursuit of financial gain, which fail to take the context into account, let alone the effects on human dignity and the natural environment. Here we see how environmental deterioration and human and ethical degradation are closely linked.
Many people will deny doing anything wrong because distractions constantly dull our consciousness of just how limited and finite our world really is. It is foreseeable that, once certain resources have been depleted, the scene will be set for new wars, albeit under the guise of noble claims. War always does grave harm to the environment and to the cultural riches of peoples, risks which are magnified when one considers nuclear arms and biological weapons.
But powerful financial interests prove most resistant to this effort, and political planning tends to lack breadth of vision. What would induce anyone, at this stage, to hold on to power only to be remembered for their inability to take action when it was urgent and necessary to do so? In some countries, there are positive examples of environmental improvement: These achievements do not solve global problems, but they do show that men and women are still capable of intervening positively.
For all our limitations, gestures of generosity, solidarity and care cannot but well up within us, since we were made for love. At the same time we can note the rise of a false or superficial ecology which bolsters complacency and a cheerful recklessness. As often occurs in periods of deep crisis which require bold decisions, we are tempted to think that what is happening is not entirely clear. Superficially, apart from a few obvious signs of pollution and deterioration, things do not look that serious, and the planet could continue as it is for some time.
Such evasiveness serves as a licence to carrying on with our present lifestyles and models of production and consumption. This is the way human beings contrive to feed their self-destructive vices: Finally, we need to acknowledge that different approaches and lines of thought have emerged regarding this situation and its possible solutions. At one extreme, we find those who doggedly uphold the myth of progress and tell us that ecological problems will solve themselves simply with the application of new technology and without any need for ethical considerations or deep change.
At the other extreme are those who view men and women and all their interventions as no more than a threat, jeopardizing the global ecosystem, and consequently the presence of human beings on the planet should be reduced and all forms of intervention prohibited. Viable future scenarios will have to be generated between these extremes, since there is no one path to a solution.
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This makes a variety of proposals possible, all capable of entering into dialogue with a view to developing comprehensive solutions. On many concrete questions, the Church has no reason to offer a definitive opinion; she knows that honest debate must be encouraged among experts, while respecting divergent views.
But we need only take a frank look at the facts to see that our common home is falling into serious disrepair. Hope would have us recognize that there is always a way out, that we can always redirect our steps, that we can always do something to solve our problems. There are regions now at high risk and, aside from all doomsday predictions, the present world system is certainly unsustainable from a number of points of view, for we have stopped thinking about the goals of human activity.
Why should this document, addressed to all people of good will, include a chapter dealing with the convictions of believers? I am well aware that in the areas of politics and philosophy there are those who firmly reject the idea of a Creator, or consider it irrelevant, and consequently dismiss as irrational the rich contribution which religions can make towards an integral ecology and the full development of humanity. Others view religions simply as a subculture to be tolerated. Nonetheless, science and religion, with their distinctive approaches to understanding reality, can enter into an intense dialogue fruitful for both.
Given the complexity of the ecological crisis and its multiple causes, we need to realize that the solutions will not emerge from just one way of interpreting and transforming reality. Respect must also be shown for the various cultural riches of different peoples, their art and poetry, their interior life and spirituality. If we are truly concerned to develop an ecology capable of remedying the damage we have done, no branch of the sciences and no form of wisdom can be left out, and that includes religion and the language particular to it.
The Catholic Church is open to dialogue with philosophical thought; this has enabled her to produce various syntheses between faith and reason. Furthermore, although this Encyclical welcomes dialogue with everyone so that together we can seek paths of liberation, I would like from the outset to show how faith convictions can offer Christians, and some other believers as well, ample motivation to care for nature and for the most vulnerable of their brothers and sisters.
Without repeating the entire theology of creation, we can ask what the great biblical narratives say about the relationship of human beings with the world. How wonderful is the certainty that each human life is not adrift in the midst of hopeless chaos, in a world ruled by pure chance or endlessly recurring cycles! The Creator can say to each one of us: The creation accounts in the book of Genesis contain, in their own symbolic and narrative language, profound teachings about human existence and its historical reality. They suggest that human life is grounded in three fundamental and closely intertwined relationships: According to the Bible, these three vital relationships have been broken, both outwardly and within us.
This rupture is sin. The harmony between the Creator, humanity and creation as a whole was disrupted by our presuming to take the place of God and refusing to acknowledge our creaturely limitations. As a result, the originally harmonious relationship between human beings and nature became conflictual cf. It is significant that the harmony which Saint Francis of Assisi experienced with all creatures was seen as a healing of that rupture. Saint Bonaventure held that, through universal reconciliation with every creature, Saint Francis in some way returned to the state of original innocence.
We are not God. The earth was here before us and it has been given to us. This is not a correct interpretation of the Bible as understood by the Church. This implies a relationship of mutual responsibility between human beings and nature. Each community can take from the bounty of the earth whatever it needs for subsistence, but it also has the duty to protect the earth and to ensure its fruitfulness for coming generations.
Thus God rejects every claim to absolute ownership: The laws found in the Bible dwell on relationships, not only among individuals but also with other living beings. Clearly, the Bible has no place for a tyrannical anthropocentrism unconcerned for other creatures. In our time, the Church does not simply state that other creatures are completely subordinated to the good of human beings, as if they have no worth in themselves and can be treated as we wish.
In the story of Cain and Abel, we see how envy led Cain to commit the ultimate injustice against his brother, which in turn ruptured the relationship between Cain and God, and between Cain and the earth from which he was banished. This is seen clearly in the dramatic exchange between God and Cain. Disregard for the duty to cultivate and maintain a proper relationship with my neighbour, for whose care and custody I am responsible, ruins my relationship with my own self, with others, with God and with the earth.
When all these relationships are neglected, when justice no longer dwells in the land, the Bible tells us that life itself is endangered. We see this in the story of Noah, where God threatens to do away with humanity because of its constant failure to fulfil the requirements of justice and peace: These ancient stories, full of symbolism, bear witness to a conviction which we today share, that everything is interconnected, and that genuine care for our own lives and our relationships with nature is inseparable from fraternity, justice and faithfulness to others.
In this way he gave humanity the chance of a new beginning. All it takes is one good person to restore hope! The biblical tradition clearly shows that this renewal entails recovering and respecting the rhythms inscribed in nature by the hand of the Creator. We see this, for example, in the law of the Sabbath. On the seventh day, God rested from all his work.
He commanded Israel to set aside each seventh day as a day of rest, a Sabbath , cf. Similarly, every seven years, a sabbatical year was set aside for Israel, a complete rest for the land cf. This law came about as an attempt to ensure balance and fairness in their relationships with others and with the land on which they lived and worked.
At the same time, it was an acknowledgment that the gift of the earth with its fruits belongs to everyone. Those who tilled and kept the land were obliged to share its fruits, especially with the poor, with widows, orphans and foreigners in their midst: They also invite other creatures to join us in this praise: Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! This is why we adore him. The writings of the prophets invite us to find renewed strength in times of trial by contemplating the all-powerful God who created the universe.
Indeed, all sound spirituality entails both welcoming divine love and adoration, confident in the Lord because of his infinite power. In the Bible, the God who liberates and saves is the same God who created the universe, and these two divine ways of acting are intimately and inseparably connected: It is you who made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm!
He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. The experience of the Babylonian captivity provoked a spiritual crisis which led to deeper faith in God. Now his creative omnipotence was given pride of place in order to exhort the people to regain their hope in the midst of their wretched predicament. Centuries later, in another age of trial and persecution, when the Roman Empire was seeking to impose absolute dominion, the faithful would once again find consolation and hope in a growing trust in the all-powerful God: Just and true are your ways!
The God who created the universe out of nothing can also intervene in this world and overcome every form of evil. Injustice is not invincible. A spirituality which forgets God as all-powerful and Creator is not acceptable. That is how we end up worshipping earthly powers, or ourselves usurping the place of God, even to the point of claiming an unlimited right to trample his creation underfoot.
The best way to restore men and women to their rightful place, putting an end to their claim to absolute dominion over the earth, is to speak once more of the figure of a Father who creates and who alone owns the world. Otherwise, human beings will always try to impose their own laws and interests on reality. Nature is usually seen as a system which can be studied, understood and controlled, whereas creation can only be understood as a gift from the outstretched hand of the Father of all, and as a reality illuminated by the love which calls us together into universal communion.
This tells us that the world came about as the result of a decision, not from chaos or chance, and this exalts it all the more. The creating word expresses a free choice. The universe did not emerge as the result of arbitrary omnipotence, a show of force or a desire for self-assertion. Creation is of the order of love. Even the fleeting life of the least of beings is the object of his love, and in its few seconds of existence, God enfolds it with his affection. At the same time, Judaeo-Christian thought demythologized nature. Every person should have sufficient access to the goods and resources of society so that they can completely and easily live fulfilling lives.
The rights of the individual to personal possessions and community resources must be balanced with the needs of the disadvantaged and dispossessed. The common good is reached when we work together to improve the wellbeing of people in our society and the wider world. Priority is given to development programs which involve collaboration with all relevant sectors of the community to promote the common good.
It will also involve coordination of resources, planning and action across agencies and organisations. All people have the right to participate in decisions that affect their lives. Subsidiarity requires that decisions are made by the people closest and most affected by the issues and concerns of the community. Caritas Australia works with local communities to support, promote and develop their capacity in decision-making so they can better respond to their own needs.
Everyone belongs to one human family, regardless of their national, religious, ethnic, economic, political and ideological differences. Everyone has an obligation to promote the rights and development of all peoples across communities, nations, and the world, irrespective of national boundaries. We are called by the principle of solidarity to take the parable of the Good Samaritan to heart Luke Caritas Australia expresses solidarity by reaching out to those who are most marginalised. We are committed to long-term engagement and sustainability.
Jesus taught that God asks each of us what we are doing to help the poor and needy: Reaching the poorest and most marginalised people often requires greater effort in discovering where they are to be found. This sometimes means additional resources of time and money. Economic life is not meant solely for profit, but rather in service of the entire human community. Everyone capable should be involved in economic activity and should be able to draw from work, the means for providing for themselves and their family.
We must all respect, care for and share the resources of the earth, which are vital for the common good of people. Care for animals and the environment is a common and universal duty, and ecological problems call for a change of mentality and the adoption of new lifestyles. Our development programs are attentive to environmental concerns and seek to promote care for the earth and its resources. All Peace requires respect for and the development of human life, which in turn involves the safeguarding of the goods, dignity and freedom of people. Peace is the fruit of justice and is dependent upon right order among human beings.
Project Compassion helps end poverty and promote justice so the world's poor won't need to rely on charity. See how you can help. Caritas Australia acknowledges the traditional owners and custodians of the land, past and present, on which all our offices are located. Caritas Australia is the international aid and development organisation of the Catholic Church in Australia.
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Additionally, instructional design principles for the planning, preparation and delivery of lectures can transform the lecture into a useful, effective, significant and memorable learning experience. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Middle East Afr J Ophthalmol. Palis and Peter A. Author information Copyright and License information Disclaimer.
This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3. This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract Although lectures are one of the most common methods of knowledge transfer in medicine, their effectiveness has been questioned. Active Learning, Adult-Learning, Lectures.
Adult learning principles Since, Eduard C. Behavioural learning theories - Stimuli in the environment can produce changes in behaviour. Cognitive learning theories - Learning is focused on mental and psychological processes, perception and processing of information not in behaviour. Experiential learning - Learning is focused on the development of competencies and skills in a specific context.
Humanistic theories - Centered on the learner, these theories focus on an individual's potential for self-actualization, self-direction and internal motivation. Self-directed learning - The suggestion that students can plan, conduct and assess their own learning Transformative learning theory - Explores how critical reflection can be used to challenge a learner's beliefs and assumptions.
They include cognitive situated theories that consider learning and thinking as social activities taking place in a community and influenced by context 3. Motivational models - These emphasize the value of internal motivation and reflection as necessary for learning. Reflective models - These hold that reflection lends to change. Reflective learning 31 and deliberate practice 32 , 33 theories are examples of these models. Andragogy In the s, Malcolm S. The pedagogical implications of this assumption are that: These allow for appropriate planning, in order to avoid the mistake of teaching content so basic that students already know it the lecture is viewed as a waste of time or so difficult that they find it impossible to understand they lack the knowledge base to understand the content or they find it irrelevant to their needs.
It is fundamental to introduce goals and objectives at the beginning of the lecture - what learners will be able to know or do with the knowledge acquired during the lecture. It is good practice to present an outline at the beginning of the lecture to give the learners a preview of what they will learn. The learner's self-concept Adults have the self-concept of being responsible of their own decisions and their own lives and consequently need to be considered by others as capable of self-direction. The role of learner's experiences Adults come to learning situations with accumulated experience; therefore, in any group of adults there is a wide range of individual differences regarding background, learning styles, motivation, needs, interests and goals.
Readiness to learn Adults are ready to learn what they need to know to cope with the situations they face in their real lives. Orientation to learning Adults will be motivated to learn as long as they perceive the learning as useful to help them perform tasks or solve problems they face in their lives. Motivation Although adults respond to external motivators better jobs, promotions, higher salaries, etc. Learners are involved in more than listening. Experiential learning This model, developed by David A. Reflective learning Donald A. Superficial versus deep learning This concept refers to the preference by which students approach learning.
The learning process Taylor and Hamdy propose a 5-stage process to explain how learning occurs: The learner's existing knowledge is challenged and found to be incomplete. The learner seeks out possible explanations or solutions to a problem elaboration and through completing tasks, research, reflection and discussion refines the new information into new concepts.
The learner develops or restructures ideas considering the newly acquired information, making sense of it and organising it into schemata. The learner articulates new knowledge and tests it against what his peers and teachers think which reinforces the schema or obliges its reconsideration. Learners need to have clear goals and objectives of what they will achieve by the teaching intervention e.
Content should be connected to experience and previous knowledge 23 , Learners should reflect about what they learn and how they learn Learners should actively participate in their learning 23 , 43 , Teaching should be learner-centred, i. Recommendations for making lectures more effective Below we offer some recommendations for making lectures more effective, according to the principles described above and considering three moments: Preparing the lecture Preparation is a very important moment - planning what will be said and how.
We recommend the following steps: Perform a needs assessment It consists of figuring out, reflecting about and considering what the needs of the target audience are. Formulate a general goal This step consists of thinking about the main objective the audience should achieve as a result of the lecture. The introduction to the lecture The lecture's objectives, its importance and an outline of the content are presented here. The body of the lecture It is here that the content of the lecture is presented.
Design the slides A proper slide design, including presentation and combination of texts and images pictures, graphics, and videos is almost as important for learning as the content being presented. Layouts and backgrounds should be kept clear and simple and overcrowding of slides should be avoided [ Figure 1 ]. Open in a separate window. When possible, it is advisable to use images pictures, graphics, video instead of text, as images are easier to remember 11 , 26 [ Figure 2 ].
The number of bullet points on a slide should be limited. Too much text also distracts from the spoken message, since it is difficult to read, listen and understand at the same time. Irrelevant images such as logos, landscapes, cartoons, etc.
Background and text colours should be harmonious and carefully chosen. Presentation of data also requires clear graphics that keep unnecessary information to a minimum 11 [ Figure 4 ]. Complex graphics should be explained and progressive introduction of data is advisable when large amounts of data are presented. Fonts should have a resolvable size at distance. As a general rule, slide titles should be in 72 to 40 point font size and the text in the body of the slide should be between 40 and 28 point.
All-capital words may be used only for emphasis on one or two words; using all capitals for the whole text makes it difficult to read. Write notes of what you plan to say When many images and little text are used, writing notes allows mental organization and selection of the right words for what needs to be said.
Rehearse what you plan to say This step helps to ensure an adequate use of the allotted time and is the key to arrive psychologically prepared to speak to the audience. Delivering the lecture Explaining the content An organized structure as well as clear and interesting explanations, are the key features to increase the effectiveness of the lecture. Communication skills Communication skills needed for a lecture vary and a complete analysis is beyond the scope of this article.
Use of humour can be beneficial, but it should be done carefully. Humour used appropriately can regain a student's attention or help fixate a concept. Rude, discriminative, difficult to understand or irrelevant humour can offend, distract and predispose the audience against the speaker. It should be remembered that audio-visuals reinforce the message and facilitate learning, but they are not the core of the presentation. The core of the lecture, what students need to learn, is the message the instructor is intending to transmit.
Recitation of slides full of written text and bullet points is an inefficient and ineffective teaching strategy. Students would learn the topic more fully by reading about it in a book. Finishing the lecture At the end of the lecture handouts are distributed some instructors do this at the beginning, although this is generally not recommended because it may distract the students. Footnotes Source of Support: Nil Conflict of Interest: Brown G, Manogue M. A guide for lecturers. Brown G, Edmunds S. A Practical Guide for Medical Teachers. Davis M, Forrest K. How to teach Continuing Medical Education; pp.
Pocket Guide to Teaching for Medical Instructors. Blackwell and BMJ Books; What's the use of lectures? American Society for Training and Development; A guide for training professionals. Evidence for the effectiveness of CME: A review of 50 randomized controlled trials.
Stuart J, Rutherford RJ. Medical student concentration during lectures. Cambridge University Press; Best Practices in Medical Teaching. Buskist W, Groccia JE, editors. Clickers in the classroom: Fostering learning with questioning methods in large lecture classes. Results from a range of classrooms. Demonstrating the effectiveness of active learning in an introductory Biology course. Teaching more by lecturing less.
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