Green Seminary News

Enjoy this album from our recent Symposium on Ecologically Informed Theological Education:  Implications for Teaching, Learning and Seminary Life.

The Symposium is part of the Seminary Environmental Leadership Initiative, which is funded through a grant from the Luce Fund for Theological Education, an initiative of the Henry Luce Foundation’s Theology Program.

 

 

Education

Introduction

 

Incorporate Earth Care Into Your Academic Program

 

Syllabus Project

 

Develop Faculty Expertise

 

Provide Educational Opportunities

 

Share Academic Resources with the GSI
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Introduction


  • The Green Seminary Initiative encourages theological schools to integrate ecological and eco-theological education across all aspects of their curricula. Seminarians need to be equipped with knowledge of the Biblical, theological, eco-justice, ethical, and historical traditions and possibilities concerning care for the earth. They should also be aware of important ecological issues facing the planet as well as the impacts of ecological degradation on the poor and marginalized.
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Anchor Incorporate Earth Care into your Academic Program

  • Integrate earth care across the curriculum: Given the centrality of creation to all religious traditions, add an earth care component to all courses offered at the school. For example, Hebrew Bible could emphasize the creation stories, Sabbath laws, and the Psalms. New Testament could examine Jesus’ call for justice for the least of these and Paul’s claim that the entire earth is waiting for salvation. Ethics could analyze the impacts of ecological destruction on the poor. Classes on Spirituality could study the mystics’ rich relationship with the natural world and spend time in nature experiencing God’s presence there. Worship classes could survey new rituals around the seasons of creation. Pastoral curriculum might help church leaders to address issues of despair related to ecological degredation. Make use of the book edited by Dieter Hessel, Theology for Earth Community: A Field Guide (Maryknoll: Orbis, 1996), which includes articles on each subject in the theological curriculum. Check out the Resources section for more sources. The Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale University also offers a number of useful resources that will help you to integrate ecological issues across your curriculum. You might find their bibliographies, such as their Christianity and Ecology bibliography, to be particularly helpful.
  • Create an ecological emphasis or concentration: Many theological schools offer specialties in areas such as Bible or Urban Ministry. Similarly, an “Environmental Ministry” emphasis could include pertinent coursework, papers oriented towards earth themes, field education experiences, a senior project, and hands-on greening work at the school. One example comes from the joint degree program currently being offered between the Yale Divinity School and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Or, learn more about the wide array of ecologically themed education opportunities at Drew University by clicking here.
  • Offer an introductory course on earth care: An introductory course, either required or elective, would cover the basic elements of understanding earth care: ecology, theology, eco-justice, ethics, Biblical resources, green worship, organizational skills, and greening the church or synagogue. Include teachings on the social and political aspects of religion and ecology as well. See the section, “What Every Seminarian Should Know.” Check out the GSI Syllabus Project for courses offered at other schools.
  • Offer specialized elective courses in various fields: Ecology and Justice; Theology of Nature; Nature in the Bible; Earth Ethics; Spirituality of Place/Nature; Eco-Therapy and Pastoral Care; Christianity and Ecology; Judaism and Ecology, Creation Care Worship; Preaching the Care of Creation; Greening Your Congregation, etc.  To these can be added opportunities for Independent Studies. Check out the GSI SyllSyllabus Projectabus Project for courses offered at other schools.
  • Offer opportunities for green field education: Practical experiences can be invaluable. Think about the following possibilities:
  1. Pastoral internships specifically dedicated to greening a congregation.

  2. Clinical Pastoral Education sites located at agencies that address environmental issues. See the Urban CPE program at the Associated Seminaries of Chicago. 

  3. Field Education Courses, offering work in an organization or hands-on work on an ecological project.

  4. Work experience at a local environmental organization or agency.

  5. Contextual education opportunities in congregations on weekends.

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Syllabus Project

  • Check out over 30 syllabi from theological schools around the country that are focused on ecological themes or have an ecological component. Add your own syllabus to share with others.

 

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Develop Faculty Expertise

  • Having professors with knowledge of ecological issues and theological understanding of earth care is an important component of greening one’s theological school. Consider the following possibilities:
  1. Plan a faculty retreat with training in ecology and eco-theology, along with opportunities to engage with the natural world.
  2. Hold faculty colloquies: You might read and discuss a book, such as Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, by Lester Brown (Norton, 2009). Or, request a faculty member to present a brief description of how s/he can incorporate ecological, eco-justice, eco-theological concerns into individual courses. You might also read and discuss the statement(s) on the environment by your denomination. Or, you might study the Earth Charter.
  3. Encourage faculty research in religion and ecology. Many opportunities exist for general study and research as well as how ecology pertains to specific disciplines. Also, consider a nature-based sabbatical that could be both restful and rewarding.
  4. Incorporate bioregional faculty education: Gather the faculty (across the curriculum) to learn about the local bioregion, local foods, and to learn about local environmental justice issues.

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 Provide Educational Opportunities for the Community


  • Provide workshops introducing earth care or training on how to green congregations. Consider the educational materials for small groups available from the Northwest Earth Institute. Other organizations, such as GreenFaith are also excellent sources of materials for hosting and organizing workshops.

  • Invite guest speakers to your community. Bring in community organizers, local farmers, ecologists, theologians, eco-justice activists, environmentalists, academic experts or corporate representatives. 

  • Host informal conversations over lunch or coffee.

  • Include ecological and eco-theological articles in community newsletters and bulletins. You can include articles, relevant Scripture quotes, excerpts from books, reports on local environmental justice issues, greening tips, announcements of events, and reports of ecological actions.

  • Include an educational component in your Green Team meetings and open the meeting to the whole community.

  • Provide opportunities for community-wide retreats in a natural setting. Hold meetings and worship outside when possible.

  • Keep relevant ecological and theological books and periodicals up to date in the library.

  • Join an educational consortium to pool resources and to cross-educate.

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Share Academic Resources with the GSI

  • Please send any information on education that you think might be pertinent to webmaster@greenseminaries.org so we can share it with others. We are seeking information on syllabi, courses, eco-theological specialties, educational developments, pedagogical approaches, exercises, ideas, inspiration, and other similar resources.

 

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