Giraud presents a theoretical framework that theologians, political philosophy scholars and environmental justice advocates can use to help deal with the issue of comity — the social harmony and mutual benefit produced by collective action — and find solutions to ecological disaster.
“Concern over the human condition and a desire to work together across differences are core to Christian beliefs,” he said. “Comity is part of the Christian religion, and we must work together to achieve what we cannot individually — for everyone’s mutual benefit. Taking care of water, land and health as global commons is part of the solution. ”
Giraud, a Jesuit and director of the Georgetown Environmental Justice Program (GEJP), brings a unique voice to issues of governance and helping institutions transition to a more sustainable future. He and his GEJP colleagues advocate for policies that address inequities in environmental decision-making and consider comity and the role of theology to be core elements of their research.
“We will continue to face new challenges in the future — from creating boundaries around private ownership to protecting natural resources when sovereign states neglect them,” said Giraud. As an ecological economist, he argues that we should see the extraordinary political, cultural and spiritual challenges posed by climate change as opportunities rather than deprivations of freedom.
“Comity is key, but it can be hard to put into practice. It’s not easy to invent new institutions that care for the common good,” said Giraud.
Through GEJP, Giraud is helping to position Georgetown as a leader in addressing ecological challenges. He is actively working with Loyola University Chicago to better understand how fellow Jesuit-Catholic universities can implement solutions in the spirit of his book and support the development of benchmarks and best practices to help measure institutional progress.
Fr. Gaël Giraud, Ph.D., is an economist and a professor of the practice at the McCourt School of Public Policy. He is the director of the Georgetown Environmental Justice Program and research director at the French National Centre for Scientific Research.