The 2019 Wheaton College Symposium in Human Needs and Global Resources will convene scholars and practitioners who seek to understand and illuminate the intrinsic connections that link the vocations we develop, the communities to which we belong, and the environments we inhabit.
The Symposium addressed a set of timely and interrelated questions that are at the heart of the Human Needs and Global Resources program and fundamental to the mission of Wheaton College.
Among these were questions that invited us to critically consider the links between the lifestyles we create and the vulnerabilities that people, other creatures, and the planet experience as a result of environmental degradation and adverse ecological change. The 2019 Symposium aimed to bring such inquiries closer to home – to invite participants to consider our responsibilities as social actors who are to pursue vocations, build communities, and occupy landscapes in ways that express our love for vulnerable neighbors who live nearby and faraway. Invited guests and speakers reflected on the practical ways that they have sought to build sustainable communities and to pursue vocations in light of the ethic that love for neighbor incorporates caring about the environments they inhabit.
Another related focus of the Symposium addressed questions that are important for the Wheaton College community, and especially as they concern our place in the environments and landscapes we occupy as a faith-based institution of higher education. As Wheaton faculty member and noted biblical scholar John Walton observes, a fundamental truth of the biblical account of creation “is that this world is a place for God’s presence” (The Lost World of Genesis One, pp 83-4). Symposium speakers considered how our belonging to creation – to a place that God inhabits – might shape and inspire our habits of learning, worship, and engagement with the world beyond campus.
Dr. Ruth Padilla DeBorst yearns to see peace and justice embrace in the beautiful and broken world we call home. An engaged theologian, educator, missiologist, and story-teller with special focus on sustainability, she has been involved in leadership development and theological education for integral mission in her native Latin America for several decades. She is the Provost of the Comunidad de Estudios Teológicos Interdisciplinarios (CETI – www.ceticontinental.org), a learning community with students across Latin America. She has served as President and General Secretary for the Latin American Theological Fellowship and coordinates the Networking Team of INFEMIT (International Fellowship for Mission as Transformation –www.infemit.org). For decades she has been active in multiple publishing initiatives, including serving as Director for the Ediciones Certeza Unida Publishing House. She is on the board of the A Rocha International environmental organization and the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies. She lives with her husband, James, in Costa Rica as a member of Casa Adobe, an intentional Christian Community with deep concern for right living in relation to the whole of creation (www.casaadobe.org). Her studies include a Bachelors in Education (Argentina), an MA in Interdisciplinary Studies (Wheaton College), and a PhD in Theology (Missiology and Social Ethics) at Boston University.