Overview

GSI's Seminary Environmental Certification Program is one of a kind.

It is a 3-year process designed to provide the structure, guidance and support that seminaries need, and have requested, in order to further develop their institution's commitment to creation care.

The foundation of the program begins with a commitment from a cross-section of school representatives (faculty, staff, students, alumni, etc.) to serve as a Green Team.

Together they conduct a self-audit of their existing environmental practices in the areas of: Education - Liturgy, Ritual, and Worship - Building and Grounds - Community Life - Public Leadership.

Resources and personalized support are provided by GSI as each school identifies goals, priorities, and growing edges which are factored in to the development of an Action Plan.
At the end of the 3-year process, the Action Plan is complete and we celebrate the transformation that comes from incorporating an ecological ethos into the life of a theological institution and the ways it might serve as a model for others.

Participating Schools

We are delighted to have thirteen schools currently in our Seminary Environmental Certification Program.

  • indicates a member of our pilot cohort

Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary

Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary has offered three faith-based environmental courses: “Environmental Ethics,” “Nature, Theology, and Ethics: Christian Spirituality and Creation Care,” and “Christian Creation and Spirituality.” These courses are taught by Dr. William Greenway, Associate Professor of Philosophical Theology. During his tenure at Austin, Dr. Greenway has taught several other faith-based environmental courses including "Nature, Theology, and Ethics" and an experiential course titled "An Adventure in Wilderness and Spirituality." In recent years, Austin has been steadily increasing its environmental commitments through its curriculum and communal worship. In joining the program, Austin brings cross-disciplinary faculty expertise, commitment to outdoor chapel services, and the implementation of an Energy Management System to reduce the school’s carbon footprint.

Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary
" In recent years, Austin has been steadily increasing its environmental commitments through its curriculum and communal worship. “The opportunity to participate in the Green Seminary Initiative would make these efforts more robust and make us more accountable to the goals we have set for ourselves, our students, and our Seminary constituents,”
Academic Dean David H. Jensen

Boston University School of Theology

Located in Boston, MA, Boston University School of Theology is a United Methodist seminary with broad ecumenical connections, including Episcopal and United Church of Christ Communities of Learning. BU has been actively working toward ecological justice since 2008, and built green initiatives into their strategic plan in 2010. BU brings to the Green Seminary Initiative an expertise in how to imagine what is possible as a theological school embedded in a large university that is also committed to ecological sustainability. They also exemplify what it means to transform curriculum and communal practice, and renovate aged buildings.

Boston University School of Theology
“We seek to expand and deepen our ecological awareness and action in every aspect of our ethos and action,”
Dr. Mary Elizabeth Moore, coordinator of the Green Team

Christian Theological Seminary*

Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, IN, is an ecumenical Christian theological institution. The school has nurtured ecological care in theological education through several course offerings, including “Christianity and Ecology,” as well as a contextual study opportunity in Appalachia. Dr. Robert Saler has published articles on environmental theology, while Dr. Carol Johnston, a long-time eco-theological leader in the Presbyterian Church (USA), has also published numerous books and articles and lectured internationally on religion and ecology. Dr. Felicity Kelcourse has spoken in support of conserving Crow school Hill North Woods, a 30 acre pre-settlement remnant forest near the seminary that is threatened with deforestation.

Christian Theological Seminary*

Claremont School of Theology

Claremont School of Theology in Claremont, CA, is a United Methodist Church seminary. Ecological sustainability has been a priority for the school since the tenure of Professor John Cobb, an early eco-theologian who began work at Claremont in 1960. Claremont held its first conference on the environmental crisis in 1971. The leaders of Claremont’s Green Team, Dr. Philip Clayton and Kristin Ritzau, shared with GSI that they see the certification process as a way to become a place of ecological education and empowerment for seminary leaders, students, and community members in Southern California. Claremont enters the program eager to share its curriculum and syllabi from multiple eco-classes and programs.

Claremont School of Theology

Columbia Theological Seminary

Columbia Theological Seminary, a school in the Presbyterian Church (USA), has been a leader in ecological theological education for the last decade. They have two LEED Gold buildings on campus in Decatur, GA, was one of the founding members of the Seminary Stewardship Alliance, and their late president Steve Hayner began a Sustainability Commission that continues to this day. They also bring to the certification program a commitment to health, imagination, and resilience.

Columbia Theological Seminary
“We are making Columbia Seminary a greener place, making creation care a central, integrating it into our curriculum and promoting creation-care as a foundational element of worship, discipleship, and the pursuit of justice,”
William Brown and Stanley Saunders, coordinators of the Columbia Green Team.

Drew Theological School

Drew Theological School, a seminary of the United Methodist Church and part of Drew University in Madison, NJ, hosts The Green Seminary Initiative. Professor Laurel Kearns heads the Green Team, which also includes Dr. Catherine Keller and Dr. Heather Elkins on the faculty. All three publish, teach, and lecture on topics related to theology and eco-justice, joined by several other faculty who bring environmental concerns into their classes. Recently, eco-justice began to be integrated throughout the curriculum, building on almost two dozen courses with an ecological focus, including several required courses. Students can focus on religion and ecology in all degree programs. Drew’s other environmental initiatives include environmental justice field trips, native species and integrated pest management, water bottle refilling stations, reusable cutlery and sustainable food options. The campus includes a community garden, arboretum, labyrinth, native species planting, and a forest. The school is particularly proficient in establishing environmental policies to guide its institutional practices, and integrating environmental themes into chapel services, curriculum, speakers, cross-cultural trips, and broad social justice work.

Drew Theological School
“integrating ecological concerns and environmental justice has been part of the Drew Theological School DNA for more than 25 years.”
Professor Laurel Kearns, co-founder of the GSI

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary has offered five courses, taught by Assistant Professor of Theology and Ecology Dr. Timothy Eberhart, which incorporate ecological teachings into seminary education. A founder of the Seminary Stewardship Alliance (SSA), Garrett-Evangelical has been a leader in environmental education in Evangelical seminaries and is committed to integrating ecological perspectives and sustainable practices throughout the curriculum, the school’s worship, and spiritual life, programming, buildings and grounds, and administrative operations.

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
“We have made ecological justice a strategic priority at the seminary and will be expanding and implementing that commitment in a variety of ways in the coming years. We see our participation in this certification process as a means of support to achieve existing goals, while both expanding and sharing access to knowledge and resources along the way.”
Dr. Timothy Eberhart

Methodist Theological School in Ohio*

Methodist Theological School in Ohio (MTSO) offers eight distinct religious-environmental courses including “Connections in Ecology and Religious Education,” “The Oikos of God: Economy and Ecology in the Global Household,” “Worship, Ecology and Social Justice” and “Resisting Biocide: Environmental Ethics for Discipleship.” The school also offers a specialization in Ecology and Social Justice for their Masters of Divinity, Master of Arts in Practical Theology, and Doctor of Ministry degrees. In the description of this specialization, MTSO states: “Out of love and respect for future generations, religious leaders need to provide those they serve with a theological framework for resisting greed, gluttony and the destruction of resources.” MTSO has a Sustainability and Land Initiative, which includes Seminary Hill Farm, a certified organic farm that makes it possible for MTSO to incorporate environmental learning into student life. This farm plays a prominent role in the school’s Ecology and Social Justice specialization. The Sustainability and Land Initiative seeks to further MTSO’s aspiration to “prepare and invigorate transformational leaders to engage the church and the world in leadership and service” by creating a “sustainable campus plan which establishes a model for theological education through the cultivation of sustainable teaching and learning communities on our land.” Current practices in sustainability include 90% of all food served in Dunn Dining Hall being sourced from organic and humane farms within 50 miles of campus, a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, and commitments to urban farming partners in nearby Columbus. The campus has also installed geothermal heating/cooling and solar panels to power its administration and academic buildings.

Methodist Theological School in Ohio*
“Out of love and respect for future generations, religious leaders need to provide those they serve with a theological framework for resisting greed, gluttony and the destruction of resources.”

Pacific Lutheran Theological School

Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary (PLTS) is a seminary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, a graduate school of California Lutheran University, and a founding member of the Graduate Theological Union interfaith consortium in Berkeley, CA. PLTS decided to enter the Certification Program soon after their president Dr. Chris Kimball signed the Second Nature Climate Commitment, committing both the university and seminary to achieving carbon neutrality and developing strategies for resilience. PLTS has moved recently to a new urban campus in the heart of Berkeley, and is committed to exploring the relationships between earth care and justice issues of race, class, and gender.

Pacific Lutheran Theological School
“a deep-seated passion for environmental justice within the community of students, faculty, staff, and alumni.”
Green team leader Professor Cynthia Moe-Lobeda

The Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology*

Located in Richmond, VA, the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology, Virginia Union University (STVU) has developed a commitment to ecology and theology in caring for creation which is rooted and grounded in the school's historical commitment to social justice, civil rights, and activism. STVU offers students the opportunity to engage ecological issues across many areas of its curriculum. As early as 2010, ecology was included as an important theological issue in required systematic theology courses. To expand the opportunities for students to explore ecological and theological themes, STVU introduced the elective course Creation Care, Grassroots Organizing, and the Faith Community during the summer of 2015. This course has been offered each summer term subsequently. The class draws upon the collaborative relationship STVU has developed with area churches and organizations which include: 31st Street Baptist Church, Second Baptist Church of South Richmond, the Sierra Club Richmond Chapter, The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Virginia Interfaith Power and Light, and Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy. In 2016 – 2017, STVU courses in pastoral care, evangelism, missions, worship and sacraments, and United Methodist Doctrine have all been revised to link environmental justice with those areas of study. STVU's collaborative relationships with churches, grassroots, and non-profits have provided students opportunities for environmental field study. This past May 2017 the school hosted a three-day conference Announcing Good News: Creation Care for students, alumni, and the wider community where preachers, grassroots organizers, environmental scientists, and theologians addressed the challenges of the global climate crisis in relation to contemporary missions challenges.

The Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology*

Trinity Lutheran Seminary*

Located in Columbus, OH, and a seminary in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Trinity has engaged in a number of steps required in the certification process, including an energy audit, updating the seminary’s HVAC system, tracking campus energy use, and enhancing recycling efforts. The student group SEEDS held a retreat in April at Lutheran Memorial Camp and students have participated in a Faith Climate Action Rally at the Ohio Statehouse. In addition, Trinity students have been active in cleaning up the Alum Creek watershed that borders the seminary property. The school has cultivated a garden, and students, faculty, and staff held a worship service to bless it. The school engages with the natural landscape surrounding the campus through hikes and excursions.

Trinity Lutheran Seminary*

Union Presbyterian Seminary at Charlotte

Union Presbyterian Seminary at Charlotte is a part-time, non-residential seminary extension of Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Va. We have a brand new campus located in the fast-growing South Park area of Charlotte. While our home campus is pursuing a partnership with Shalom Farms, incorporating a community garden and classes in the ethics of food and eco-justice, the Charlotte campus is pursuing its commitment to “church and the world” in several different ways. Having just completed our energy audit, we are committed to making an already efficient building more so. We are Including new course offerings that focus on faith and environmental issues, such as Paul Galbreath’s upcoming class on “Ecology and Worship.” Rodney Sadler is challenging us to step up as advocates in areas such as the use of solar energy in congregational and seminary facilities. We look forward to learning from our colleagues in the GSI in the years ahead.

Union Presbyterian Seminary at Charlotte

Universidad Biblica Latinamericana

Universidad Biblica Latinoamericana joins the Seminary Environmental Certification Program from San Jose, Costa Rica. The school elected two years ago to make “planetary life” a key aspect of teaching, research, and community life, and believe that the certification program will assist them with incorporating these goals. “It is our desire to make this a learning experience for faculty, staff and especially students who can reproduce these process in their churches and communities,” writes Rectora Elisabeth Cook. “Our location in Central America, an area of the world that is highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, offers a privileged contexts from which to address environmental justice through theological reflection and missional action.” The UBL brings to the certification program numerous ties to the international, national, and regional communities, along with a network of students and graduates throughout the region who are committed to issues of environmental justice.

Universidad Biblica Latinamericana

Certification Process

Summary of the Certification Process

The Seminary Environmental Certification Program is organized into a 5-step process and includes a series of requirements. Participating institutions must complete the requirements related to each of these steps to be recognized as a Certified Green Seminary. GSI is not accepting applications at this time but if your school is interested in being notified of the next opportunity, please let us know at director@greenseminaries.org

Step 1: Apply to the Program (3 month process)

Interested seminaries must:

  1. Read the Standards and Guidelines
  2. Build a Certification Team
  3. Submit the Application Form 
  4. Submit the Certification Team Commitment Form

By May 15, GSI will announce the schools selected to participate in the program.

Step 2: Getting Started (6 month process)

  1. Conduct the Seminary Environmental Audit, using GSI-supplied template 
  2. Adopt a Governing Board Resolution 
  3. Develop an Action Plan, to be approved by Green Seminary Initiative, for fulfilling requirements in the selected focus areas as outlined in the standards and guidelines 
  4. Pay the $1,500 registration fee.  Note:  the customary program registration fee of $3,000 has been reduced thanks to support from the program funders.

Step 3: Implement your Action Plan (26 months)

With the Audit and Action Plan completed, schools will proceed to implement their Action Plans.  GSI will offer guidance and support and will regularly connect Certification Team members from participating seminaries for the purpose of sharing strategies, successes and struggles, and for mutual support.  Participating schools will submit progress reports every six months during implementation of Action Plan.

Step 4: Celebrate Certification!
(1 month)

After completing all Certification Program requirements, institutions will celebrate achieving Green Seminary Initiative Certification with a ceremony marking this accomplishment, at which a GSI representative will present a Certification banner.

Step 5: Maintain Certification Status through Ongoing Activities

In order to maintain Certification status in good standing, participating schools will submit an annual progress report to GSI describing their environmental efforts of the past year, and will also participate in mentoring seminaries newly entering the program.

Certification Standards

Here are the requirements and elective activities for schools participating in the Seminary Environmental Certification Program. The requirements and electives are divided into five areas:

  • Education
  • Liturgy, Ritual and Worship
  • Buildings and Grounds
  • Community Life
  • Public Leadership

The Green Seminary Initiative (GSI) maintains an extensive collection of resources in relation to each of the requirements and electives. In most areas of the program, participating schools will complete a combination of requirements and electives, shaping the substance of their experience of the Certification Program to fit their own context. As evident from the following text, the completion of certain electives will provide seminaries with credit towards program requirements in more than one area of the Certification Program.

We also understand that the significant differences between free-standing seminaries and those which are part of a larger university system will require the customizing of certain requirements and electives in consultation with the Green Seminary Initiative. In addition, GSI will seek to provide credit towards Certification for those schools that have carried out substantial amounts of work in relation to care for creation and environmental engagement. We look forward to the consultation with seminaries which this will involve.

Green Team

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Your institution’s Green Certification Team is the foundation upon which all your Seminary Environmental Certification efforts are built. This Green Certification Team is responsible for creating the strategy, planning, and overall organization for your school’s involvement in the Seminary Environmental Cer tification Program and serves as a motivational force for the entire seminary community.

Before joining your Green Certification Team, individuals should be aware of the time and work that is required, and agree to the 3-year commitment. Exceptions to this include graduating students who can serve shorter terms but the school should fill those vacancies as soon as they are able in order to ensure student involvement. All members must sign the Green Team commitment form, which should be submitted with the application.

Diversity, a range of experiences, and institutional influence are important characteristics of effective Green Certification Teams. The team should include:

  • Faculty
  • Staff
  • Students
  • Administration
  • Representation from segments of the seminary which will be affected or have influence according to which focus areas are selected for certification.
  • Alumni

The Green Team’s Responsibilities

  • Completing the Institutional Audit
  • Creating and assisting with implementation of the Action Plan
  • Participating in Program webinars, discussions and other engagements virtually

  • Ensuring the completion of the Program requirements

  • Consistently promoting and publicizing the seminary’s environmental certification program efforts

  • Submitting progress reports to GSI every six months during implementation of Action Plan

If your school is ready to commit to creating a Green Team for the certification program, download the commitment form here. Email it to Green Seminary Initiative at director@greenseminaries.org

Certification Application

We are not currently accepting applications.

Please contact GSI Co-Directors Sarah Macias and Abby Mohaupt if you are interested in participating in future cohorts.