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Eco-Justice: A Vision for a Sustainable City 

The course will develop a holistic vision for a sustainable city as an outworking of the concept of shalom, a just peace.  The course will evaluate the three components of sustainable community development: the three E’s of economics, environment and equity (or social justice).  Participants will explore the course topic via readings, panel discussions and site visits.  Students will have the option of exploring key issues such as energy policy, food production, environmental justice and pollution and how these challenges relate to the central course themes.  Central to the course is the question, “What does it mean to be a sustainable urban community?” 

Course Goals: 1. To explore workable solutions to today’s environmental challenges.  2. To consider alternative visions for cities as sustainable habitats.  3. To empower participants with skills, understanding and strategies that they can implement in their own communities.


1. Theoretical Underpinnings: The course will develop an urban perspective on ecological issues, including what the church can do in its community or neighborhood.

2. Pedagogical Process: It will utilize a combination of readings, discussions, guest speakers and site visits.

3. Reading Assignments*: The required text, Wendell Berry, What Matters, Economics for a Renewed Commonwealth (Counterpoint, 2010) is a required text to be read by all, and will be discussed the first weekend. In addition to the required book by Wendell Berry, you will required to choose one reading from the Biblical and theological; AND and one book from the Socio-Ethical Interpretations below– a total of three books.  (Note, due to the time structure of this course, we recommend that you read the first two books PRIOR to the beginning of the course, before October 4th.  Perhaps read one book in September the other in early October.)

4. Reading Schedule. Read Berry first, then the others. (Please make copies for each member of the class, including the three instructors.  This must be emailed three days ahead of the class, Wednesday at the latest, or hard copies brought on day of class. We will let you know of the total number of persons in the class one week before).

  • Week One:  Read Wendell Berry, What Matters:  Economics for a RenewedCommonwealth by October 14, 2011. Prepare a 3-5 page paper on the significance of this text for the course themes.
  • Week Two: Select ONE book from the second list on Biblical Theological, Interpretations on eco justice. List below! Prepare a 3-5 page paper on the significance of this text in relationship to the course themes.
  • Week Three: Select ONE book from the Socioeconomic Interpretations List below. Prepare a three to five page paper on the significance of the reading in relationship to course themes.
    • *(Note, for weeks two and three, it is possible that you may choose a different book than the ones on this list, there are many choices.  If so, you must petition one of the instructors for approval).

5. Final Paper Assignment: The final written assignment that could be a proposal, plan or strategy that a church or community group can do in its own setting to advance the cause of environmental justice. The final assignment will include the following elements:

  1. An articulation of a vision for a community based on your theological perspective on ecology, justice, etc.
  2. An analysis of an issue or set of issues.
  3. A proposal that offers set of practical or strategic actions suited to what a church or community group can effectively accomplish in its own unique context. Note, the ideal project will have theoretical foundations linked with practical and achievable goals and strategies suitable to a context you are familiar with.
    1. An Abstract of this will be do the third week of the course
    2. A Full paper or written proposal will be due three weeks after the course is completed.
    3. While there is no set lengthy, our recommendation would be something between 12- 15 pages, double spaced, with appropriate references, and with an appropriate use of the reading assignments in connection with the experiential elements of the course (site visits, guest conversationalists, and via class discussion with course instructors and fellow class participants).

Eco-Justice: A Vision for a Sustainable City: Experiential and Interactive Aspects of the Course 

Each weekend in this series will begin with a Friday session of education and awareness raising, using interactive presentations, videos, book discussions and a guest speaker geared to enrich participants’ understanding of current sustainability issues facing our cities and to open dialogue about the role of the church in a changing world.  On Saturdays we will hit the streets of Chicago, visiting real-world organizations and programs that are working to create livable and sustainable communities. 


Week 1 (Friday): Introductions- Class Introductions, Overview of the Course; Environmental Systems: Susan Rans; The Challenges Ahead,  Our Ecological Impact; Dinner; Wendell Berry, “What (really) matters!”

Week 1 (Saturday): Climate Change, Environmental Stress, Pam and Lan Richart; Field Trip: Southeast Environmental Task Force, Tom Shepherd “Environmental Stress and Regeneration on the Southeast side.”

Week 2 (Friday): Field Trip-Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, LIVJO. Kim Wasserman; Dinner and Reflection; Discussion – students’ chosen text from Biblical and Theological Interpretations (list one)

Week 2 (Saturday): Course Project Assignment- Discuss requirements of course project; Field Trips; Trip to “The Plant”, John Edel/Blake Davis

Week 3 (Friday): Guest Speaker Amy Coffman Phillips, The B-Collaborative Community Resilience Inspired by Nature- What would it mean to embed resilience into your community? What changes would you need to make so that you are able to collectively survive and thrive through disturbances, both large and small? Using bio-mimicry methodology, this seminar will provide an opportunity for you to learn from Nature’s deep principles of resilience, draw parallels between Nature’s systems and human designs, and begin to translate them to the context of restorative, resilient communities; Book Discussion students’ chosen text from Socio-Ethical Interpretations; Dinner; Guest Speaker Naomi Davis, Blacks in Green

Week 3 (Saturday): Trip to Growing Power; Lunch; Student Project Proposals and Class Discussion; Conclusion and Course Evaluation

Eco Justice: Sustainable City Bibliography (Note, please choose one book from each of the two lists below. Other selections are possible but must be approved by a member of the teaching faculty).

By Clinton E. Stockwell, M.U.P.P; Ph.D. GTUS, SCUPE

Pam and Lan Richart, Eco Justice Collaborative

1. Biblical and Theological Interpretations (Week Two Reading)

Abdul-Mateen, Ibrahim and Keith Ellison.   2010:  Green Deen: What Islam Teaches about Protecting the Planet.  Barrett Koehler Publications.

Altman, Donald.  1999.  The Art of the Inner Meal. The Power of Mindful Pracices to Heal our Food Cravings.  Moon Lake Media.

Baucham, Richard.  The Bible and Ecology:  Rediscovering the Community of Creation.  Baylor University Press, 2010.

Berry, Robert James (ed.). 2000. The Care of Creation: Focusing Concern and Action. Leicester, UK: Inter-Varsity Press.
Berry, Thomas. 2006. Dream of the Earth.  Sierra Club Books, 2006.

Evening Thoughts: Reflecting on Earth as Sacred Community San Francisco, CA: Sierra Club Books, 2006.

The Great Work:  Our Way to the Future.  Broadway Books, 2000.

Mary Evelyn Tucker.  The Sacred Universe: Earth, Spirituality, and Religion in the Twenty-first Century.  Columbia University Press, 2009.

Berry, Wendell. 1992.  “Christianity and the Survival of Creation,” in Sex, Economy, Freedom and Community.  Eight Essays.  New York:  Pantheon, 93-116.

2002.  “The Gift of the Good Land,” in The Art of the Commonplace, ed. By Norman Wirzba.   Emeryhville, Ca.:  Shoemaker and Hoard, pp. 293-304.

1986. The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books.

Bouma-Prediger, Steven. 2001  For the Beauty of the Earth: A Christian Vision for Creation Care. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

Brown, Edward R. 2006. Our Father’s World: Mobilizing the Church to Care for Creation. South Hadley, MA: Doorlight Publications.

Clawson,l Julie.  2009.  Everyday Justice:  The Global Impact of Our Daily Choices.  Inter Varsity Press. 

Carroll R., Daniel.  “A Biblical Theology of the City and the Environment,” In Toly and Block, Keeping God’s Earth (2010): 69-89.

Davis, Ellen F.  2009. Scripture, Culture and Agriculture:  An Agrarian Reading of the Bible.

De Haan, Roger L.  2007. Restoring the Creation Mandate:  Healing for People, Pets, Plants and the Planet. Milestones International Publishers.

DeWitt, Calvin B. 1994. Earth-wise: A Biblical Response to Environmental Issues. Grand Rapids: CRC Publications.

1998. Caring for Creation: Responsible Stewardship of God’s Handiwork. Grand Rapids: Baker Books.

Edwards, Denis. 2006. Ecology at the Heart of Faith. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books.

Fitzgerald, Joan.  Emerald Cities:  Urban Sustainability and Economic Development.  Oxford.

Foltz, Richard C. 2002. Worldviews, Religion, and the Environment: A Global Anthology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing.

Fretheim, Terence E.  2010. Creation Untamed:  The Bible, God and Natural Disasters. Baker Book House.

Gebara, Ivone. 1999. Longing for Running Water: Ecofeminism and Liberation. Minneapolis: Fortress.

Gilkey, Langdon Brown.  1965. Maker of Heaven and Earth: A study of the Christian doctrine of creation.  Doubleday-Anchor.

2000.  Nature, Reality, and the Sacred (Theology and the Sciences).  Fortress.

Gottlieb, Roger S. 2003. A Spirituality of Resistance: Finding a Peaceful Heart and Protecting  the Earth. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

2006. A Greener Faith: Religious Environmentalism and Our Planet’s Future. New York: Oxford University Press.

Gottlieb, Roger S. (ed.). 1995. This Sacred Earth: Religion, Nature, Environment. New York & London: Routledge.

2006. The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Ecology. New York: Oxford University Press, USA.

Goudzwaard, Bob, Mark Vander Vennen, and David Van Heemst. 2007. Hope in Troubled Times: A New Vision for Confronting Global Crises. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

Granberg-Michaelson, Wesley, ed. 1987. Tending the Garden: Essays on the Gospel and the Earth. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

Grey, Mary C. 2004. Sacred Longings: The Ecological Spirit and Global Culture. Minneapolis: Fortress.

Hallman, David G. 1994. Ecotheology: Voices from South and North. Geneva: WWC Publications.

Hart, John. 2004. What Are They Saying About Environmental Theology? Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.

2006. Sacramental Commons: Christian Ecological Ethics. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Hauerwas, Stanley. 2001.  With the Grain of the Universe:  The Church’s Witness and Natural Theology.  Brazos Press.

Hessel, Dieter T. & Rosemary Radford Ruether. 2000. Christianity and Ecology: Seeking the Well-Being of Earth and Humans. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Center for the Study of World Religions.

Jung, L. Shannon. 2006.  Sharing Food:  Christian Practices for Enjoyment.  Fortress Press.

Kinsley, David. 1995. Ecology and Religion: Ecological Spirituality in Cross-Cultural Perspective. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.

MacKinnon, Mary Heather, and Moni McIntyre, eds. Readings in Ecology and Feminist Theology. Kansas   City: Sheed and Ward.

Mahan, David C. Sheldon, Joseph K. & Brand, Raymond H. 1996. Redeeming Creation: The Biblical Basis for Environmental Stewardship. Downers Grove, IL: Inter Varsity Press.

Maitland, Sara. 2002. A Joyful Theology: Creation, Commitment, and an Awesome God. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress Publishers.

Martin-Schramm, James B. & Stivers, Robert L. 2003. Christian Environmental Ethics: A Case Method Approach. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books.

McFague, Sallie. 2001. Life Abundant: Rethinking Theology and Economy for a Planet in Peril. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.

2008. A New Climate for Theology:  God, the World, and Global Warming; Fortress.

1993. The Body of God:  An Ecological Theology.  Minneapolis:  Fortress Press.

McKibben, Bill. 2007. Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future. New York: Henry Holt and Company.

Miller, Richard W.  2010.  God, Creation and Climate Change:  A Catholic Response to the Environmental Crisis.  Orbis Books.

Earth:  Making a Life on a Tough New Planet.  Times Books, 2010.

Nash, James A. 1991. Loving Nature: Ecological Integrity and Christian Responsibility. Nashville, TN: Abington Press.

Nelson, Robert H.  2009.  The New Holy Wars:  Economic Religion versus Environmental Religion in Contemporary America. Penn State University Press.

Oelschlaeger, Max. 1996. Caring for Creation: An Ecumenical Approach to the Environmental Crisis. Princeton, NJ: Yale University Press.

Palmer, Martin & Victoria Finlay. 2003. Faith in Conservation: New Approaches to Religions and the Environment. Washington, DC: World Bank Publications.

Primavesi, Anne. 2004. Making God Laugh: Human Arrogance and Ecological Humility. Santa Rosa, CA: Polebridge Press.

Rasmussen, Larry L.  Earth Community, Earth Ethics.  Orbis, 2003.

Register, Richard.  Eco Cities:  Rebuilding Cities in Balance with Nature.  New Society, 2006.

Robinson, Tri. 2006. Saving God’s Green Earth: Rediscovering the Church’s Responsibility to Environmental Stewardship. Norcross, GA: Ampelon Publishing.

Ruether, Rosemary Radford. 1994. Gaia and God: An Ecofeminist Theology of Earth Healing. San Francisco: Harper.

1996. Women Healing Earth: Third World Women on Ecology, Feminism, and Religion. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books.

2005. Integrating Ecofeminism, Globalization, and World Religions. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

Scharper, Steven B., and Hillary Cunningham. 2002. The Green Bible. New York: Lantern

Schut, Michael. 2010. Food & Faith: Justice, Joy, and Daily Bread.  Morehouse Books.

Sider, Ronald J.  2005.  Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger.  2nd Edition.  Thomas Nelson.

Sleeth, J.Matthew. 2006. Serve God, Save the Planet: A Christian Call to Action. White River Jct., VT: Chelsea Green.

Spencer, Nick, Robert White and Virginia Vroblesky.  2009. Christianity, Climate Change and Sustainable Living.

Sponheim, Paul R.  1999. The Pulse of Creation:  God and the Transformation of the World.  Minneapolis:  Fortress Press.

Story, Dan.  2012.  Should Christians Be Environmentalists? Kregel Publications.

Swimme, Brian.  The Universe Story : From the Primordial Flaring Forth to the Ecozoic Era–A Celebration of the Unfolding of the Cosmos.  Bear and Company, 1994.

The Universe is a Green Dragon.  Harper One, 1984.

Taylor, Sarah McFarland. 2007. Green Sisters: A Spiritual Ecology. Harvard University Press.

Toly, Noah and Daniel I.  Block.  Keeping God’s Earth:  The Global Environment in Biblical Perspective.  IVP Academic, 2010.

Young, Davis A.  John Calvin and the Natural World.  University Press of America, 2007.

Van Dyke, Fred, David C. Mahan, Joseph K. Sheldon, & Raymond H. Brand. 1996. Redeeming Creation: The Biblical Basis for Environmental Stewardship. Downers   Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Wilkinson, Loren, ed. 1991. Earthkeeping in the Nineties: Stewardship of Creation. Grand Rapids: Eerdman’s.

Wirzba, Norman. 2003. The Paradise of God: Renewing Religion in an Ecological Age. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

Yordy, Laura Ruth, Green Witness:  Ecology, Ethics and the Kingdom of God.  Lutterworth Press, 2010.

Zachariah, George.  2011. Alternatives Unincorporated:  Earth Ethics from the Grassroots. Equinox.

2. Socio-Ethical Interpretations (Week three Reading)

Anderson, Ray C.  2009. Confessions of a Radical Industrialist.  Profits, People, Purpose, Doing Business by Respecting the Earth.  St. Martin’s Press.

Anglin, Roland V. 2010. Promoting Sustainable Local and Community Economic Development (ASPA Series in Public Administration and Public Policy). CRC Press.

Birch, Eugenie L. and Susan M. Wachter.  Growing Greener Cities:  Urban Sustainability in the Twenty-First Century.  University of Pennsylvania, 2008.

Barnett, Cynthia.  2011.  Blue Revolution:  Unmaking America’s Water Crisis. Beacon Press.

Bower, Tim.  2009.  Oil:  Money, Politics and Power in the 21st Century.   Grand Central Publishing.

Brandon, Peter S.; Patrizia Lombardi, and A Basden. 2011.   Evaluating Sustainable Development in the Built Environment.

Blewitt, John.  2008. Understanding Sustainable Development. Routlege.

Brecher, Jeremy and Tim Costello.  1998. Global Village or Global Village?  Economic Restructuring from the Bottom Up.  South End Press.

Brown, Leser R. 2001.  Eco Economy:  Building an Economy for the Earth.  WW Norton.

Clawson, Julie. 2009.  Everyday Justice:  The Global Impact of our Daily Choices.

De la Salle, Janine and Mark Holland.  Agricultural Urbanism: Handbook for Building Sustainable Food Systems in 21st Century Cities.  Green Frigate Books, 2010.

Deffeyes, Kenneth S.  2003. Hubbert’s Peak:  The Impending World Oil Shortage. Princeton.

Diamond, Jared.  2011. Collapse. How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. Revised Edition.  Penguin Books. 

Dresner, Simon.  2008. The Principles of Sustainability. Routlege.

Erickson, Donna.  2006. MetroGreen:  Connecting Open Space in North American Cities. Island Press.

Friedman, Thomas L. 2008.   Hot, Flat and Crowded.  Why we need a Green Revolution and How it can Renew America.  Ferrar, Strauss and Giroux.

Gilding, Paul. 2011. The Great Disruption: Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring On the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World. Bloomsbury.

Glaeser, Edward. 2011.  The Triumph of the City:  How our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier.  Penguin.

Goleman, Daniel.  2010. Ecological Intelligence:  The Hidden Impacts of What we Buy.

Gore, Al.  2009. Our Choice:  How We Can Solve the Climate Crisis.  Viking.

Gottlieb, Robert and Anupama Joshi.  2010. Food Justice (Food, Health, and the Environment). MIT Press.

Greer, John Michael.  2009. The EcoTechnic Future:  Envisioning the Post Peak World.  New Society Publishers.

2011.  The Wealth of Nature:  Economics as If Survival Mattered. New Society.

Hallsmith, Gwendolyn.  The Key to Sustainable Cities:  Meeting Human Needs Transforming Community System.  New Society Publishers.  2003.

Hallsmith, Gwendolyn and Bernard Lietaer.  Creating Wealth:  Local Economies with Local Currencies.

Hawken, Paul. 2010. The Ecology of Commerce Revised Edition: A Declaration of Sustainability.  Harper.

Hawken, Paul; Amory Lovins and A. Hunter Lovins, Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution.   Back Bay Books, 2008.

Henderson, Hazel. 2006.  Ethical Markets:  Growing the Green Economy.  Chelsea Green.

Hewitt, Ben.  2010. The Town that Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food.  Rodale.

Heinberg, Richard 2009.  Blackout.  New Society Publishers (NCP).

2011.  The End of Growth:  Adapting to our New Economic Reality. NSP.

2005. The Party’s Over:  Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial Societies. NCP

2010.  Peak Everything:  Waking Up to the Century of Declines. NCP

2004.  Powerdown:  Options and Actions for a Post Carbon World.  NCP

Heinberg, Richard and Daniel Lerch.  2010. Post Carbon Reader:  Managing the 21st Century’s Sustainability Crisis.  NCP.

Hopkins Rob and Richard Heinberg.  2008. The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience.  Chelsea Green.

Jones, Ellis, etal.  2007.The Better World Handbook:  Small Changes that Make a Big Difference.  New Society Publishers.

Jones, Van.  Green Collar Economy.  HarperOne, 2008.

Kline, Benjamin.  2000. First Along the River:  A Brief History of the Environmental Movement.  Acada Books.

Korten, David C.  The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community (2007).

Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth (2009).

Kriken, John Lund.  2010.  City Building:  Nine Planning Principles for the Twenty First   Century.  Princeton:  Architectural Press.

Kunstler, John Howard.  1996. Home From Nowhere:  Remaking Our Everyday World.  Simon and Schuster.

2005. The Long Emergency:  Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the 21st Century.  Atlantic Monthly Press.

Ladner, Peter. 2011The Urban Food Revolution: Changing the Way We Feed Cities. New Society Publishers.

Lerch, Daniel.  Post Carbon Cities:  Planning for Energy and Climate Uncertainty. 2007.

Martenson, Chris.  The Crash Course. 2010.

Meadows, Donella H.; Jorsen Randers and Dennis L. Meadows. 2004. Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update.   Chelsea Green.

McKibben, Bill. 2007. Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future.

McKibbon, Bill.  2003.  Enough.

McKibbon, Bill2010. Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet. Henry Holt & Co. NY.

Newman, Peter; Timothy Beatley and Heather Boyer. 2009.  Resilient Cities:  Responding to Peak Oil and Climate Change.  Island Press.

Newman, Peter and Isaella Jennings.  Cities as Sustainable EcoSystems:  Principles and Practices. Island Press, 2008.

Nordahl, Darrin.  Public Produce: The New Urban Agriculture. Island Press, 2009.

Peacock, Kent A., ed. 1996. Living with the Earth: An Introduction to Environmental Philosophy. Toronto: Harcourt.

Owen, David.  Green Metropolis.  Riverhead Books, 2009.

Perez, Lorena Farras.  2012.  Eco Design Outside:  Green Outside the House.  Firefly Books.

Peters, Rebecca Todd. 2004. In Search of the Good Life: The Ethics of Globalization. New York: Continuum.

Pollen, Michael. 2008.  In Defense of Food.  An Eater’s Manifesto. Penguin Books.

Omnivore’s Dilemma

Ponting, Clive. 1991. A Green History of the World: The Environment and the Collapse of Great

Civilizations. New York: Penguin.

Portney, Kent E. 2003. Taking Sustainable Cities Seriously: Economic Development, the Environment, and Quality of Life in American Cities (American and Comparative Environmental Policy) MIT Press.

Pringle, Peter.  2003.  Food Inc.  Mendel to Monsanto.  The Promises and Perils of the Biotech Harvest.   Simon and Schuster.

Restakis, John. 2010.  Humanizing the Economy: Cooperatives in the Age of Capital.  NSP.

Roseland, Mark.  2005. Toward Sustainable Communities.  Resource for Citizens and Their Governments.  New Society Publishers.

Sanguin, Bruce.  Darwin, Divinity and the Dance of the Cosmos:  An Ecological Christianity. CopperHouse, 2007.

Savitz, Andrew W. with Karl Weber. 2006.  The Triple Bottom Line:  How Best Run Companies are Achieving Environmental Success.  Jossey Bass.

Schlosser, Eric.  2001.  Fast Food Nation:  The Dark Side of the All American Meal. Houghton Miflin and Company.

Sessions, George.  Deep Ecology for the 21st Century. (1995).

Sessions, George and Bill Deval.  Deep Ecology:  Living as if Nature Mattered (2001).

Singer, Peter and Jim Mason.  2006.  The Way We Eat:  Why Our Food Choices Matter. Rodale.

Weber, Karl, editor.  2009.  Food Inc.  How Industrial Food is Making us Sicker, Fatter and Poorer.  New York.  BBS.

Wheeler, Stephen M. and Timothy Beatley.  The Sustainable Development Reader.  Second Edition.  Routledge, 2009.

Yudelson, Jerry.  2008.  The Green Building Revolution.  Island Press.

White, Lynn. 1967. “The Historical Roots of our Ecological Crisis.” In Science 155 (1967).

This syllabus pertains to when the course was offered in 2013