African students to attend an international summit in Rome on science, faith and culture.
Festus Tarawalie – Vatican City.
Close to 100 delegates from around the world are expected to attend the 5-9 September meeting at the School of Aerospace Engineering of La Sapienza University of Rome on Via Salaria. Africa will be represented by students from Congo, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Kenya, Togo, Cape Verde and South Africa.
Young scientists in faith
The international meeting under the theme: “Global Fraternity and Solidarity among Young People in Faith, Science and Culture in the Vision of the Encyclicals Fratelli Tutti (FT) and Laudato Si (LS)”, has been organized by the international initiative ‘Assumpta Science Centre Ofekata - Owerri, Nigeria’ or ASCO, under the patronage of the New Vatican Dicastery for Culture and Education and in collaboration with the Pontifical Foundation 'Scholas Occurrentes'.
The aim of the ASCO initiative is to “promote at grassroots level, the development and growth of modern science and technological culture in dialogue with the religious faith of young people through informal and formal science learning activities,” says Fr Tobechi Anyadike, the director of the initiative. After acquiring such knowledge through hands-on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) learning, at science centres, like the one in Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria, young people and volunteer students are encouraged to share that knowledge in their communities for sustainable development and to engage in activities that are geared towards protecting the environment.
The Clean and Green Campaign
For instance, through its Clean and Green Enlightenment Campaign, ASCO is using science to create ecological awareness among young people and local communities in Nigeria as a direct response to Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical Laudato Si, on the Care for Our Common Home. The aim is to help them apply their concrete encounter with science in real life to solve real needs, in light of their faith.
Key Speakers at the Rome Summit include: Most Rev. Raffaelo Martinelli - Bishop of Frascati and chaplain of the National Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN), Italy; Francesco Agnoli - Historian of Science, Journalist, Writer, Author; Rev. Fr. Dr. Dieter Hattrup - Mathematician, Physicist &, Professor Emeritus of Dogmatics, Faculty of Theology, Paderborn, Germany &; University of Friborg, Switzerland; Rev. Fr. Dr. John Egbulefu - Professor Emeritus of Dogmatic Theology, Pontifical Urban University, Rome; and Engr. Kathy Lueders – Director, NASA's Space Operations Mission Directorate (SOMD).
Faith and science in dialogue
ASCO was launched following an appeal by Pope Benedict on the occasion of the European Day of University Students in March 2006 during which he asked universities to undertake concrete projects of a scientific and cultural nature as a way of promoting dialogue between science and faith and sustainable development.
Pope Francis has reiterated this appeal on the link between science, faith and development in his two encyclicals Laudato Si and Lumen Fidei, as well as in the Apostolic exhortation Evangeli Gaudium, on the proclamation of the gospel in today’s world.
US Gospel music concert in Rome
The summit will be preceded by a Gospel music concert by singers from Atlanta, USA and ASCO from Owerri, Nigeria at the parish church of Saints Marcellinus and Peter 'al Laterano' in Rome on Sunday 4 September, beginning at 9:00 pm.
The concert will help raise awareness and finance the “ASCO” project, which includes, the creation of Science Centres (interactive science museums) in Africa with their headquarters in south-east Nigeria, with branches in other countries and regions of Africa.
According to Fr Anyadike, the aim is “to create a space where young people, students, teachers and volunteer adults, Italians and from other countries, as a sign of intellectual charity, will go on long or short-term missions according to the possibilities and circumstances of each, to experience and work together with African colleagues in such informal 'hands-on' science learning activities in a religious climate.”
For more information on how to support the project, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.