Students Play Key Role in Production of Veritas Forum
By Tom Campisi, Managing Editor
Students from Christian Union Libertas were part of a team that organized a thought-provoking Veritas Forum on climate change at Brown University in the spring semester.
On March 6, approximately a hundred students and staff from the campus community gathered at MacMillan Hall for an event entitled “Have We Sold Our Future? Climate Change, Commodification, and Our Responsibility.”
The Veritas Forum featured a conversation between Norman Wirzba, the Gilbert T. Rowe Distinguished Professor of Christian Theology at Duke University, and Dr. Alex Poterack, a lecturer in the Economics Department at Brown. Elizabeth Lord, a visiting lecturer in Environment and Society at Brown, was the moderator.
Following the main event, Christian Union Libertas hosted a dinner and discussion with Professor Wirzba at its Judson Ministry Center. The dinner featured students and staff from a variety of faith backgrounds and fields.
“At the dinner, it was exciting to see small conversations of consequence that were engaging with the Christian worldview on the issue of environmental ethics,” said Laurel Copp, a Christian Union ministry fellow at Brown.
Earlier, the Veritas Forum conversation by the professors brought together economics, ethics, and environmental issues.
“Professor Wirzba presented a uniquely Christian worldview to his position that was beautiful and challenging because of its concern for creation,” said Copp. “Attendees were reminded that the value and ethical responsibility of and to God’s world is something that should be upheld and defended with creative imagination and hope.”
Copp was impressed with the student leadership team, which consisted of representatives from various campus ministries. Students were involved in every level of hosting the Veritas Forum. They came up with the topic, title, and content, invited the moderator and the Brown professor, coordinated the conference with the student activities office, and promoted the event.
“It was a strong team with a lot of talent, insight, and ability! They worked hard, were creative, and did a great job,” Copp said.
Students from Christian Union Libertas on the team included Kristen Marchetti ’21, Amanda Hinh ’21, Catherine Ohrt ’20, and Olivia Carter (a student at Rhode Island School of Design).
Ohrt, a Public Health major from Accra, Ghana, said the Veritas Forum helped foster conversations that normally do not happen on campus.
“At Brown, there is a tendency to separate personal interests and passions from religion,” she said. “The Veritas Forum was impactful for non-Christian students because it allowed them to explore their interest through the lens of a [Christian worldview].”
Hinh, an Environmental Science major from San Diego, California, said the focus on ethics “was a good starting point for students to recognize that there is a larger conversation to be had about anthropocentric climate change.”
“More importantly, the takeaway from our event was that this myriad of differing viewpoints don’t have to necessarily be in conflict with each other and can actually engage in a fruitful conversation that allows all of us to learn when thinking about potential solutions.”
Ohrt and Hinh were also appreciative of leadership development opportunities within Christian Union during the past academic year.
“Through my position with Christian Union, I have learned how to lead humbly, asking for help and guidance when necessary, and keeping the wellbeing of our community in mind when making decisions,” said Ohrt, a member of the student executive team for Libertas.
“Christian Union has largely shaped my development in becoming a more confident leader,” Hinh said. “I appreciate my Christian Union peers and ministry fellows for gently pushing me to take on more leadership roles, ranging from event organizing to even praying aloud for a group, which can, at times, be intimidating and overwhelming. Their support has allowed me to grow more in these capacities and learn from my peers in the community.”