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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

Just War Theory and the Environmental Consequences of War

Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

"Are trees in the field human beings that they should come under siege from you?" Deuteronomy 20:19

war and the environment

Laurie Johnston
Emmanuel College

Date: Thursday, March 17, 2016
Time: 12:00-1:15 PM
Location: Boisi Center, 24 Quincy Road

RSVP Required. Click here to register.

Abstract: Modern warfare has devastating environmental impacts, and environmental damage in turn can be a contributing factor in violent conflicts. Given these intersecting dangers, how should we weigh the morality of contemporary warfare? Johnston will examine the current ethical conversation about the relationship between war and the environment. In particular, she will focus on how Just War theory – particularly the principle of proportionality – can be helpful as a way to limit the “collateral damage” that war brings to the natural environment.


Laurie Johnston is Associate Professor of Theology at Emmanuel College, where she also serves as Director of Fellowships. She is a social ethicist specializing in public theology, the ethics of war and peacemaking, and health care ethics. She is the co-editor, with Tobias Winright, of a volume recently published by Orbis Press entitled, Can War be Just in the 21st Century? She has authored articles on war and peacemaking, and particularly on Catholic peacebuilding efforts. She holds a PhD in Theological Ethics from Boston College, as well as degrees from the University of Virginia and Harvard Divinity School.  

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In the News

The United States, Russia, and other nations continue to target oil facilities held in Iraq and Syria by ISIS. Some policymakers have warned that air strikes on oil infrastructure will have severe detrimental effects on the environment and public health. These effects could stall the post-conflict road to recovery and stability. On March 17 at a Boisi Center luncheon, Emmanuel College professor Laurie Johnston will examine how just war theory can help limit the environmental impact of war.