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Bolte School Dean to Deliver Valedictory of Desmond Tutu at International Event

Donna Klinger

Desmond Tutu

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

John Nauright, Ph.D., dean of the Richard J. Bolte, Sr. School of Business on February 8 will present a valedictory in tribute to Archbishop Desmond Tutu during a day-long online conference, The Road from COP 26: Economy, Justice and Peace in an Era of Climate Catastrophe. The program is being hosted from London by the Social and Economic Action Research Centre and the Archbishop Desmond Tutu Centre for War and Peace Studies at Liverpool Hope University.

nauright-in-text.pngTutu, a South African Anglican bishop and theologian, was known for his work as an anti-apartheid and human rights activist. He won the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in resolving and ending apartheid. More recently he had turned his attention to what he called “climate change apartheid,” or the divide between developed nations and the developing world. He died on December 26, 2021.

“Desmond Tutu…spoke and wrote about forgiveness, goodness and joy, as well as the compelling need for both social justice and environmental action worldwide,” Dean Nauright writes in his prepared remarks. “Thus, it is appropriate at this COP26 reflection conference at the Desmond Tutu Centre that we remember his impact and continue promoting his legacy for decades to come.”

Nauright notes in his prepared remarks that Tutu, who called climate change “one of the greatest moral challenges of our time,” faced the world’s environmental challenges in the same way that he brought down apartheid—by remaining hopeful and proposing solutions. Nauright, who has lived in South Africa, continues:

One of the key weapons he advocated was to boycott events where fossil fuel companies are sponsors, for us all to work at the same time to reduce our own dependency. Since governments, many significantly funded by fossil fuel interests, will not act, it is incumbent on people to create increasing, and urgent, pressure for action. Archbishop Tutu drew on the South African concept of Ubuntu. Ubuntu says in Xhosa “Umntu ngumtu ngabantu,” which approximates in English to “I am because you are. It says I am because I belong, and I need others to be truly human. My successes and my failures are bound up in yours. We are made for each other, for interdependence. Therefore, only by working together can we change the world for the better. Archbishop Tutu and Pope Francis agree that we are the ones who are responsible to preserve and protect the Earth, not abuse the Earth as humanity has increasingly done over the past 200 years. Through Tutu’s evocation of Ubuntu we can see a pathway forward for mutual wellbeing in creating a sustainable future for the world and all its people. It will not be easy, but we must continue to strive for mutuality and embrace Ubuntu.

In his conclusion, Nauright urges people to keep Tutu’s spirit alive by doing as the Dalai Lama suggests: to constantly seek how to be of help to others. “A great man has died, his indomitable sprit never will! Let us commit ourselves to the spirit of Ubuntu and to never forget that we are all intertwined with each other and share our common home on this Earth,” he says.

Mount St. Mary’s University commitment to ecology flows through the university’s participation in the Laudato Si’ Action Plan, Pope Francis; 7-Year Journey Toward Integral Ecology. The Mount’s work as a Laudato Si” University is being managed by the Center for Integral Ecology, Economy and iMpact within the Richard J. Bolte, Sr. School of Business.

The seven Laudato Si’ goals include responding to the cries of the Earth and the poor, fostering ecological economies, adopting a sustainable lifestyle, offering ecological education, developing ecological spirituality and supporting local communities. A year of planning, now underway, will be followed by five years of implementing concrete actions and a year to praise and thank God.

Donna Klinger