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Symposium on Ecologically Informed Theological Education:  Implications for Teaching, Learning and Seminary Life

Seminary deans and faculty explored ways of integrating faith and ecology into their theology curricula at the Symposium on Ecologically Informed Theological Education held March 16, 2017 in Washington D.C. The Symposium was co-organized by the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development, the Washington Theological Consortium, the Green Seminary Initiative (GSI), and Methodist Theological School in Ohio (MTSO), and hosted by The Catholic University of America‘s School of Theology and Religious Studies.

 

In his keynote address on Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’ — On Care for Our Common Home, Monsignor Kevin Irwin, research professor, underlined the importance of broadly integrating ecological concerns into theological education, which “would lead to an ecological consciousness across theological specializations and fields.”

 The event, which was co-sponsored by the University’s, promoted the expansion of ecology and stewardship to become an integral component of curricula throughout seminaries of all faiths. The symposium offered tools to enable administrators and faculty members from theological schools, divinity schools, and seminaries to better educate students on religion and ecology.

Other speakers included Timothy Van Meter, associate professor at MTSO and co-organizer of the Seminary Environmental Leadership Initiative; Elaine Nogueira-Godsey, assistant professor of theology, ecology and race at MTSO; and Laurel Kearns, GSI co-founder and associate professor of sociology and religion and environmental studies at Drew Theological School.

Seminary faculty and deans conducted workshops that explored a number of topics including ways that seminaries can encourage faculty to incorporate ecology teachings into existing courses in theology, the Bible, homiletics, ethics, and counseling, among others. The event drew 70 participants and speakers from more than 10 seminaries and six states in the Mid-Atlantic region.

The symposium was 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. The symposium was also supported by the Julia Burke Foundation

Equipping the next generation of religious leaders to engage effectively in Creation care and environmental justice.

  • Plenary, panel discussion and breakout sessions on the emerging field of faith-based environmental education in seminaries and theological schools.
  • Networking and discussion on topics such as how seminaries can encourage faculty to include issues of ecology and creation-care in their existing courses in Bible, theology, homiletics and liturgy, ethics, and more, as well as innovate new courses.
  • Ideas for clinical and field education and expanding vocational options.
  • Planning project-based learning for the classroom, extra-curricular programs, student-actions, and community engagement with specialists in the field.

An increasing number of Americans are turning to their pastors, priests and rabbis for wisdom and guidance on ecological sustainability. Awareness is growing of the injustice and inequity of pollution and waste. This conference will offer you resources to prepare seminarians to address these ecological concerns from a faith perspective.

Conference Co-organizers: The Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development, the Washington Theological Consortium, the Green Seminary Initiative, and the Methodist Theological School of Ohio

 

Location: The Catholic University of America

 School of Theology and Religious Studies

Date: Thursday, March 16, 2017

For Mid-Atlantic Area Seminary Faculty and Deans

Symposium on Ecologically Informed Theological Education:  Implications for Teaching, Learning, and Seminary Life

Thursday, March 16, 2017, Catholic University of America

8:30 am: Registration, coffee, light refreshments

9:00 am:  Welcome from the organizers

The Promise of Laudato Si for Theological Education


Keynote Address from Rev. Msgr. Kevin W. Irwin, Dean Emeritus of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America and author of the forthcoming book, A Commentary on Laudato Si, On Care for Our Common Home.

10:30   Break

10:45 am: Breakout Sessions #1:  Ecology in Seminary Mission and  Common Life 


The session will address a range of possible topics from ecological commitments in the school’s mission, worship and spiritual life,  campus and public programs, campus gardening and food, eco-friendly buildings, and student community engagement.

12:00 pm  Lunch

1 pm  Afternoon Plenary: Weaving Ecology Throughout a Theological Curriculum:  Impacts upon Program Development, Teaching and Learning 


Presentation by Dr. Tim Van Meter, professor at the Methodist Theological School of Ohio

2:15 pm Break

2:30 pm Breakout sessions #2: Integrating Ecology Into Curricula and Course Development  (depending on pre-registration signups):


Experienced professors will share ideas and generate conversation around ways to teach ecological themes in a range of disciples, including Theology and Ethics, Biblical Studies; Ritual and Liturgy; Spirituality and Religious Practice; Preaching; Religious Education; Mission/Public Life; Practical-Pastoral Theology, and Field Education.

3:45 pm  Break

4 pm Resources, Discoveries and Going Forward  Sharing Learnings, Ideas, and Strategies to Move Forward in your Teaching and Institution.

5:15 pm Break and guided ecological walk on CUA campus

6 pm Banquet with Evening Plenary Session      Keynote Speaker: Dr. Laurel Kearns, professor at Drew Theological School and co-founder of the Green Seminary Initiative, followed by discussion.  

8:30 pm Conference adjourns