Cover of Common Home magazine, Issue 1.
Editor Letters
Peter Marra
Spring 2021

Welcome Letter, Spring 2021

Letter from the Director of the Earth Commons, Dr. Peter P. Marra

It is a tremendous pleasure and honor to welcome you to the inaugural issue of Common Home, a student-driven publication exploring all topics intersecting environment and sustainability at Georgetown and beyond.

The launch of Common Home comes at the perfect time for our community. We are at the five year anniversary of the “Laudato Si’—On Care for Our Common Home,” a landmark encyclical by Pope Francis that summons everyone to protect the environment. His words remind us that caring for our planet—and all species that call it home—is critical to our spiritual and physical survival. 

Moved to action, Georgetown has made four sustainability  commitments, including to divest from fossil fuel companies over the next 10 years, a 15-year agreement to source two-thirds of its electricity needs from existing solar plants, and an energy partnership agreement to reduce consumption and sustainably manage utilities. On Earth Day of this year, Georgetown enshrined its new environmental commitment as its tenth C Value: Care for our Common Home.  

Although I’m an ornithologist and a biologist, I will be the first to admit science alone cannot protect our shared home. Rather, we must embrace diversity—of race and culture, lived experiences, disciplines, and species—to drive us forward. In this spirit, contributors in Common Home draw unexpected connections between the arts, sciences, literature, medicine, business and policy to the environment and sustainability.

This issue seeks an honest assessment, through such varied lenses, of the reality and complexity of our home environments. In the cover story, “Toxic Racism” scholars from three disciplines explain how racism contaminates where and how we live in America. In this inaugural issue, we face the pervasiveness of the chemical PFAS, the commonalities between famines and police brutality, and the genetic legacy of the insecticide DDT.

We also celebrate movements forward. Articles explore how a New York theater troupe harnesses empathy to spark personal commitments to climate change, how an innovation in physics can reduce the burden of N95 masks in landfills, and how grassroots movements turn into long-lasting environmental change.

A note of gratitude to our first student editorial board, Marion Cassidy, Piper Conway, Sam Cormier, and Rowlie Flores. They turned Common Home from wishful thinking to the reality within these pages. A heartfelt thank you, as well, to contributors who authored or provided interviews. Your discoveries and environmental commitment are an inspiration.

Within these pages (and the online presence) of Common Home, we try to nurture an interdisciplinary approach to share stories as interconnected as life on our planet. I hope you join us.

Pete Marra, Ph.D.
Director, Georgetown Environment Initiative
Laudato Si’ Professor of Biology and the Environment
Professor, McCourt School of Policy