McGrath Institute for Church Life Hosts “Conversations that Matter”

Icl Bishop Robert Barron Keynote Address

For the second year, the McGrath Institute for Church Life hosted its “Conversations That Matter” series, an effort to explore and educate on moral issues. This year, the institute maintained the same theme for both the fall and spring semesters, focusing on “The Crossroads of Science and Human Dignity.”

Each of the free webinar sessions featured three speakers, who offered a 10-minute presentation drawing from their expertise on the theme, followed by a Q&A. The speakers came from diverse institutions and areas of inquiry, ranging from neuroscientists to bioethicists to pediatricians to philosophers.

During the fall semester, the three panels were titled, “Man, Machine and the Future of AI,” “Questioning Gender: Medicine and Theology in Dialogue,” and “What Does It Mean to be Human?” Recordings, discussion questions, and additional reading lists remain available online.

The first spring session was titled “Morality and the Microscope: The Basis of Bioethics,” and the second explored the topic of “Trapped in our Jeans? The Role of Genes in Determining Our Self.” The third panel focused on a conversation about CRISPR, a tool for editing genomes and modifying gene function. CRISPR has the potential to allow for correcting genetic defects and treating disease, but also poses great ethical questions.

After the series launch last year, Jessica Keating, program director of the Office of Life and Human Dignity, said, “My hope is that each semester we can gather to reflect on timely issues of importance that strike at the heart of human dignity.” Last year’s topics featured the intersection of racial justice and life issues, and the intersection of justice and pregnancy.