Many of you may have seen or heard that a group of members of CTEWC recently met in Munich. I’d like to explain to you how it came about and what was discussed, all in light of going forward into the Second Generation of CTEWC.
At the end of our International Conference at Sarajevo, I told our new leadership, Kristin Heyer, Shaji George Kochuthara, and Andrea Vicini, that we needed a small but significant gathering of about 50 members of CTEWC to meet in Munich in October 2019.
I believed that the second generation of CTEWC had to be much more than an extension of the first. I wanted to help lay the groundwork for the endeavors of the second generation.
We pursued my proposal through the monthly Skype meetings that the CTEWC Planning Committee holds; since Sarajevo, we have not only new leadership but also new members, Michelle Becka, Toussaint Kafarhire and Alexandre Martins.
Looking for the foundations of the second generation meant addressing an underlying tension that we have had and that was confirmed in the feedback that we received from the survey we commissioned from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA). The tension was that while everyone loved our first three international conferences, many of the 600 respondents wanted or want a theme-based conference, when in fact, we do not sponsor such conferences. Our three (Padua 2006, Trento, 2010 and Sarajevo 2018) international conferences were not theme-based; rather, they were oriented to developing the network. The first was to listen beyond our borders; the second, in the currents of history, was about our historical identity and our anticipated trajectories; and, the third was about building bridges. These conferences could not have been themed-specific; if we went in that direction we would have needed a more focused agenda, requiring probably more of the participants to be field experts than ethicists. Our conferences were based on our mission dedicated to an expanding inclusive solidarity of ethical voices from around the world. At our last conference we had 450 ethicists from 78 countries, with more coming from the Global South than the North. Planning a themed-based conference would not have yielded these results.
Through our book series we tried attending to themes with award-winning books dedicated to migration, climate change, the bible, feminism, etc. But these books were hardly accessible to the global south, another tension that we addressed below. We also had our Forum in the First that touches on quite a diverse number of themes.
There was an awakening at Sarajevo when Craig Ford and Ray Ward proposed that one lunch be dedicated to people sponsoring different thematic tables for discussion. Nearly thirty such tables were created and people loved them. At one point I turned to Antonio Autiero and said, we could create these conversations in virtual reality: I called them virtual tables.
Autiero and I brought this idea to our Skype meeting and we began to imagine what our Munich meeting from October 11-13 could be like. We could create these virtual tables, but how to launch the idea? Toward that end Michelle and Toussaint began designing what should the terms be for launching and chairing a virtual table.
Other issues began emerging. Alex proposed that we consider programs, including through the internet, to mentor junior scholars. That led Andrea to propose promoting a much more energized Visiting Professors Program, that Andrea expressed interest in. Shaji and I began looking at the book series particularly one that was on-line accessible, for free, and yet could produce print for pay copies. Kristin decided that with all the interest in the internet, that we needed to restructure the entire webpage of
Participating in Munich
As we prepared for Munich, it became clear to us that the first generation of CTEWC was known for conferencing, not only the three international ones, but also the 5 regional ones: Nairobi 2012, Berlin 2013, Krakow 2014, Bangalore 2015 and Bogotá 2016. Those conferences were needed for us to be as strongly connected as we now are.
As we approached Munich we decided that we would begin a conversation there that now, in this letter, we would advance across the network. This is, in a word, just the beginning. When the 9 of us got to Munich we met with 36 others. Together we were from 25 countries. We proposed at Munich that we needed to meet more regularly, urgently and affordably to respond to the challenges of today. We were no longer thinking of mega conferences, but instead other more immediate possibilities. There could be no more wait times of 2, 3, 4 years for a conference.
Kristin and the web designer, Sara Bernard-Hoverstad, gave a preview of the brand new website that we will launch on November 1
st and therein got all 45 to register with the site's new online directory which we hope you will do when Kristin and Sara invite you to the new launch in the upcoming November First.
Michelle and Toussaint led the discussion on virtual tables and by the end of our visit, 9 different tables were proposed each with a chair, an agenda, and a regular strategy for meeting with a particular goal in mind. They will be outlining in the December First as well as on the website how you too can develop a VT. So start thinking of launching a VT!
Andrea proposed a more far-ranging Visiting Professors program with more locations being offered. He too will offer us ways to meet in other places through the First and on the Web site. Alex recruited senior ethicists to offer their services to junior scholars and he will be looking to you for your support.
Similarly, I called for greater institutional affiliations and besides institutions offering to host visiting scholars, there were many proposals of universities offering to host junior scholars and others interested in brief conferences on mentoring or on training ethicists for speaking in the public square. If your institution can support the network, please let me know. We are happy to partner.
Shaji and I are happy to announce that after 12 years of publishing 8 award winning books with Orbis Books that we must regretfully find a new home for future volumes that can be accessed on-line, for free, that is listed with ATLA and other listings, has a double-blind peer-reviewed, and that its print volumes can be secured by being paid for on-demand. Together with Jason King who edits the on-line
Journal of Moral Theology, CTEWC will publish its next volume on “Doing Theology in the Face of Sexual Abuse.”
Extending the Discussion
Kristin, Shaji and Andrea chaired the closing session and all 45 of us shared what the experience was of moving into the second generation after 16 years of the first. It was a strong, prayerful, confirming session. It was also a graced moment for me to step down completely from the CTEWC leadership though with Antonio Autiero and Toni Ross I will remain on the Planning Committee. Without a doubt, Munich was a key juncture in the launch of the second generation and its new leadership.
So now it’s up to you all.
If any of these ideas incite you to greater participation, please contact the person in charge. WE ARE LOOKING FOR MORE INITIATIVES, MORE CONNECTING, MORE PARTICIPATION. We look forward to the next 16 years together.