A Message from Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. – ND Forum

April 22, 2021

Dear Members of the Notre Dame Community,

Each year since 2005, it has been our custom to choose a central theme of particular importance to the University, the nation and the larger world, and to address this theme from multiple perspectives through the Notre Dame Forum. On this Earth Day, I am pleased to announce the theme for the 2021-22 Notre Dame Forum: “Care for Our Common Home: Just Transition to a Sustainable Future.”

Changes to the global climate, due in recent years to greenhouse gases released largely as a result of human activity, have led to devastating wildfires, intensified storms, severe drought and other consequences around the globe. As catastrophic as these phenomena are, the transition to a more sustainable future through behavioral adaptations and cleaner forms of energy, as well as responding to climate crises that will arise in the near future, will bring about vast and costly economic, social and political disruption. As Pope Francis wrote in his 2015 encyclical Laudato Si, “We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental.”

We seek a transition to a cleaner future where the burdens of change are equitably borne and not simply sloughed off to the poor and powerless. The question is not whether to transition to a cleaner, more sustainable future, but how and how quickly. As a University community whose work is the education of the next generation who will inherit these challenges, and as one with a Catholic mission calling us to seek justice and serve the common good around the globe, we turn to these urgent and complex questions.

During the 2021-22 academic year, inspired by Laudato Si and the Holy Father’s continued emphasis on this theme, we will engage with these important issues as a University community. More information about the ND Forum keynote events will follow in the coming months. I want to extend a special invitation to each of you to consider how to engage with the theme of the Forum, perhaps by attending one of our keynote events in the fall or by working with your department, unit or student organization to plan a related event or discussion. Our goal is to extend the dialogue into our classrooms, labs, studios, workplaces, dining halls, and residence halls and thus transform the Forum into a true campus-wide conversation. If you or your department or organization are planning events that relate to the Forum, I invite you to send that information to us at forum@nd.edu so that we may include it on our Forum website, which will launch in the coming weeks.

On this Earth Day, may God grant us the wisdom, courage and strength to engage in the necessary hard work of caring for our common home and for one another.


Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.