Laudato Si’ Research Institute

The Laudato Si’ Research Institute (LSRI) based at Campion Hall at the University of Oxford, is devoted to conducting multidisciplinary research on the most pressing ecological and social issues of our times.

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The Laudato Si’ Research Institute (LSRI) was initially envisioned as being part of broader Jesuit initiatives to bring the mission of Laudato Si’ to the UK.  After a lengthy discernment process, Dr Deane-Drummond was appointed to begin establishing the institute as a work of the intellectual apostolate, arriving in Oxford in 2019.  

Being located at Oxford allows the LSRI to contribute to academic discussions and research; however, the team at the institute also seek to remain grounded in the practical needs of the world’s poorest. As Celia Deane-Drummond describes, the institute and its members are not for ‘changing the world ourselves, but for researching how this can be done’. The research of the LSRI is focused on the underlying causes of the socio-ecological challenges of our times and seeks to listen carefully to the voices of those living in the poorest areas of the globe. This research goes on to play a vital role in informing practice, particularly that of Jesuit missions seeking to spread the message of Laudato Si’. As Deane-Drummond notes, without proper research and reasoning, ‘practice will go blind’. 

While the past 18 months have been challenging for the LSRI, it is becoming a recognised academic institute that is being widely consulted internationally and nationally on environmental and theological issues. The institute has also been working with Guardians of Creation and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales on their decarbonisation initiative; it is both academically grounded and practically engaged on issues facing the Church. Given the unlikelihood of the interlaced issues of climate, environment and global issues of poverty being resolved in the short term, the LSRI’s mission will likely continue long into the future. They are well prepared for this, having expanded since their beginning from a team of two to a team of eight, including a 5-year plan for their future. The long-term existence of the LSRI is reliant on both grants and Jesuit support which is crucial to its success.

Like any academic organisation, it exists as a ‘flexi-organisation’ that responds to specific needs arising on the public stage, while having a clear programme of research largely enabled through grant funding on areas of eco-social relevance. This combination of directed research and a measure of flexibility allows the institute to explore a wide variety of areas, which is a great advantage given the volume of requests they receive.  Over the next year, the LSRI plans to engage in a number of research projects, including one focused on public discussion of the use of gene drives in South America and engagement with human scientists on the roots of human morality. They will also continue the development of their open-access Integral Ecology Library project, led by Director of International Development, Dr Séverine Deneulin, that will allow people around the world to access literature relevant to integral ecology. This project runs in collaboration with other research initiatives across the globe, including several in the United States. 

The LSRI will also continue to establish the Global Laudato Si’ Research Network (GLSRN). This network will help the LSRI engage with a variety of research institutions across the globe, allowing it to achieve far more in partnership with others than it would be able to on its own. Dr Deane-Drummond is convinced that building a strong internal team with flourishing partnership is the way forward. She describes how ‘our Institute is primarily about the talented and gifted people that are drawn by the same passion to make our planet a habitable home for all peoples of the planet and so work towards eco-social transformation. We are therefore delighted to be able to work with visiting fellows and researchers from all over the world who share our mission’. 

When Celia Deane-Drummond first got involved with the establishment of the LSRI, she did so because she felt like ‘the time was right’ for such a project. Perhaps now is the time for more of us to take inspiration from the Laudato Si’ Research Institute and make our own efforts to protect our planet and its poorest. 

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