SACRU Virtual Seminar on Sustainability turns out to be a success

The event was hosted by the Strategic Alliance of Catholic Research Universities between 8-11 November 2021 and featured 26 students from all eight Universities members

There could not be a better demonstration of a ‘University without Walls’ rather than the first SACRU Seminar, “A Sustainable Future: research delivering impact for the 21st century”. The event was held online on the Boston College Zoom Platform and engaged 26 Ph.D. students from all over the world. SACRU Secretary-General Professor Pier Sandro Cocconcelli explained on the eve of the event that the goal was to assist students in exchanging information on such a crucial topic as sustainable development, from an interdisciplinary perspective. Indeed, the Seminar was thought to analyze the theme of Sustainability to give voice to a broad range of disciplines in the life, social and economic sciences.

The Seminar involved students and Session chairs in a very engaging way since Day 1. On Monday 8th November, sessions were chaired by Pier Sandro Cocconcelli, Professor of Microbiology at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, and opened by the presentation “Better understanding, designing, operating and controlling public transporte, a key driver for urban sustainability”, given by Professor Juan Carlos Muñoz, Director of Institute for Sustainable Development at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. The inauguration day closed with a ‘Climate Futures’ Session.

Day 2 and 3, chaired respectively by Universidade Catòlica Portuguesa and Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Professors Peter Hanenberg and Diego Cosmelli, involved the majority of Ph.D. students across 4 Sessions: ‘Sustainable learning’, ‘Sustainable resources’, ‘Healthy communities’, and ‘Ending violence’. Finally, Professor Takehito Kamata from Sophia University, Japan, chaired the closing Day 4 with ‘Sustainable Economies’ and ‘Professional Development’ Sessions. Professor James F. Keenan SJ of Boston College and Professor Peter Wilson of Australian Catholic University attended and handled the latter. Specifically, Professors Keenan and Wilson shared their long experience writing research paper abstracts to provide students with wise tips for their academic careers.

With regards to Ph.D. students’ feedbacks, there was no lack of positive comments.  “This was the beauty of the conference, to be able to be challenged. It was wonderful to be looking across the broad perspective of research, to think it broadly and to see what it’s all doing”, Judith Pridmore from Australian Catholic University said. Oressa Gray Mullen, from Boston College, is on the same page: “The SACRU Research Seminar was a fantastic opportunity to connect with other emerging scholars across the globe and bridge our interests through presentations and discussion”. Maurice Abayo, from Sophia University, makes a similar consideration: “The Seminar was very fruitful and interactive. Students from different countries got the chance to present their ongoing researches and receive feedback from other students and professors to strengthen and empower their works”. According to Giampaolo Sabino from Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, the Seminar “was an opportunity for young students involved in sustainability to make connections between different areas of knowledge and to learn about the research from an interdisciplinary perspective”. 

All in all, not only did the Seminar succeed to tackle the topic of Sustainability from different perspectives, but it proved to be an excellent training to be open to the world and to manage global complexity.