Brite Divinity School - Story 2011
Brite Divinity School - Story 2011
At Brite Divinity School a student-led “green group” is helping to make connections among the classroom, community life, and the ministerial contexts of students and alumni. “Brite Green,” as the group is named, was started by Megan Ammann as part of a class assignment. One of the requirements of Dr. Tim Hessel-Robinson’s “Spirit and Nature” class is a semester-long, hands-on involvement with some pressing environmental issue or ecological practice. Research and writing for the final paper grows out of the students’ practical engagement with the issues. “I was already somewhat familiar with the Green Seminary Initiative and I thought it would be a really exciting thing to get Brite involved,” recalls Ammann. In starting Brite Green, Ammann looked to other GSI schools for ideas, setting goals that included conducting an eco-audit, encouraging the school’s administration to engage in more sustainable practices, especially related to building-use, and promoting greater attention to ecological issues in the curriculum and classroom. As the group has emerged it has become a resource for the whole Brite community in raising awareness of ecological issues and helping people translate ideas into action.
While Ammann graduated in 2010 and now serves in congregational ministry, Brite Green continues to be an important part of the Brite Student Association and of campus life. Brite has recently implemented a new M.Div. curriculum in which one of the goals, as agreed on by the faculty, is that graduates should be skilled in engaging issues of ecological justice in diverse contexts. Brite Green has been a key co-curricular resource in promoting connections between the classroom and living practice. By sponsoring events such as lunchtime “community conversations” about environmental issues, earth-centered chapel services, hiking trips, clean-up days in a local park, and a letter-writing campaign to elected officials about pending legislation with ecological consequences, students are taking the lead in helping to realize curricular goals related to ecological spirituality and justice. Brite Green film nights have been popular venues for raising consciousness and discussing important issues. As students and faculty have gathered to watch “Age of Stupid,” “Home,” “Flow,” “Wall-E,” “The Future of Food,” “Renewal,” and “Gasland,” conversations have taken shape around the practical ways faith communities can respond to issues like water use, climate change, and natural gas extraction (the last issue is especially pressing in North Texas where natural gas wells pervade the landscape: in pastures, in dense suburban neighborhoods, across the street from parks and grocery stores, and right next to public schools).
Brite Green is an excellent example of how student initiatives play a vital role in integrating what happens in the classroom and what happens in ministry settings. According to Ammann, her education at Brite and the opportunities afforded by Brite Green have helped her “make some connections between theology, congregational life, and nature that are not always at the forefront of the classroom experience.” Starting Brite Green, she says, “taught me some wonderful things about integrating eco-justice and eco-spirituality into ministry.” Quinn Garcia, who followed Ammann as president of Brite Green concurs. Garcia says that a highlight of his time as a Brite student was seeing a passion for eco-justice take root at Brite: “one of the greatest hopes I left the group with was knowing that if this passion can be found in a group of seminary students it can be found elsewhere and such a passion is being carried by these students into places of ministry far and wide.”
- View Brite's Seminary Green Profile here (this link will be restored at a later date.)
- Story Submitted August 8, 2011
- Submitted by Tim Hessel-Robinson