IAPT Conference 2023 (see HERE for our 2025 conference details)

Practical Wisdom on the Living Web of the Anthropocene
Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea
Wednesday, June 7 – Sunday, June 11, 2023


During this conference we reflected together in the dynamic cultural terrain of East Asia, where the intersection and interconnectedness of technology, competing political and economic dynamics, and the haunting history of colonialization and wars present endless challenges to the relationship between the human and the earth. Such interconnectedness is lived out both in positive and negative ways. While the rapid economic development is the apparent fruit of the global connectivity, our land, water, and air are also connected on a global level, letting us experience pollution that originates from all parts of the world flowing into our backyards. The phenomena of sharing pollution led those living in these regions to wear masks daily even before COVID-19 struck the world. The definite mark that humankind is leaving on the earth is undeniably visible on this land.

Korea is often cast in the light of the tragedy of the Cold War and colonization, with our Northern half still alerting the international communities with their political actions. However, such past tragedies are not the center of our lived experience on the ground. They may haunt the present, giving it some color, but today’s daily challenges lie in the rapidly developing technological world that both build and break down the relationships between humans and earth. The advancement of technology seems unstoppable despite the urgent calls from the scientific communities to protect our world from imminent environmental doom. The community that drives technological development has its own impulse for curiosity and problem-solving, which are intricately and organically intertwined with the neoliberal rationality that defies the collaboration of the political will to create ethical actions for the common good. Such intersection of technological, economic, and political worlds has created many meta-narratives that compete for our attention in particular ways, seemingly defusing the collective wills to respond to the urgency of the environmental crisis we face. It seems practical theology should find its role to address such a challenge and this formed the reflexive context for our conference.

In this conference, we called on the practical wisdom of practical theologians working in the trenches of various fields, seeking to ask questions like: Why have we not been able to work together to save our common home, the earth? When we did work together, what worked? What did not work? What do we understand about the dynamics of these intersections? How do they shed light on the future of our global community? In asking these questions, our choice of the phrase ‘practical wisdom’ is intentional. If not to address Don Browning’s foundational insight to bring the practical philosophy of phronesis to locate the interpretive process in practice and doing, we would take a step further to call on sources of practical theology beyond the bound of the West– and logos–centered theological traditions. In reconnecting the relationship between the earth and the human, can we find different frameworks in traditions of diverse localities to build practical theology?

Practical theologians have long understood the interconnectedness of our realities. In the beloved metaphor of the living human web, plucking on one thread of the web should deliver the ping over the whole web. Such connection could also be very messy: the web may have many entangled knots that need examination and delicate untangling. The practical wisdom we find in our communities invites us to reflect on the resonating impact of various practical wisdoms stemming from the experiences of different sectors. What does the experience in one end of the connection say about the experience of the other end? What can we say about the state or quality of our interconnectedness? How does justice prevail in such interconnections? Pondering about such interconnection, can we find a better way to meet the impending doom/challenges in a more hopeful way? How do we generate eschatological practical wisdom in our local and global communities?

The conference in Korea was a wonderful time of engagement and reflection on a much-needed theme and we are deeply appreciative of the wonderful welcome we received from our hosts. Although this was not a hybrid conference, please do feel free to peruse the below conference video recordings.

Conference Links

Conference Video Recordings

  1. Play List of 11 Videos is over HERE
  2. Promotion (1:58)
  3. Opening of Conference (58:31)
  4. Plenary 1: Ryan Lamothe (56:36)
  5. Plenary 2: Elaine Graham (52:39)
  6. Plenary 3: HeeKyu Heidi Park (1:06:19)
  7. Roundtable Discussion (1:28:17)
  8. Plenary 4: Mary Elizabeth Moore (1:02:54)
  9. Plenary 5: Zach Walsh & Chammah Kaunda (1:20:52)
  10. Morning Devotion – 8 June (24:16)
  11. Morning Devotion – 9 June (24:01)
  12. Morning Devotion – 10 June (16:14)