‘Religion and development’ is now a well-established research area within development studies. However, reflections on development from within the standpoint of religions remain largely unexplored. Interrogating processes of social change from a certain moral standpoint–whether some are more desirable or worthwhile than others–has been a defining characteristic of development studies throughout its history. The paper argues that, given these normative underpinnings, greater dialogue is needed with ethical frameworks among which reflections on development are conducted within religions. It argues that extending the moral standpoint from which to interrogate processes of social change to include that of religious traditions could contribute to development studies’ ongoing reflections on the concept and meaning of development. The paper focuses on the reflections on development conducted from within the Catholic tradition, particularly Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, and its implementation in the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region. It argues that these reflections, which have moved the concept of development towards integral ecology, could contribute to broadening the normative basis of development studies more widely, and offer a more integrated approach for thinking about development and how societies should move into the future.
- climate change
- liberation theology
- Post-millennium development goals
- South America
ASJC Scopus subject areas