June 22, 2015
The Pope and the Catholic Church has taken a stand on climate change with a forceful position paper that spells out how faith groups must take action to protect the environment. The world’s faithful are now paying attention. After surveying hundreds of seminaries in North America, a new report by the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development (ICSD) reveals an emerging phenomenon– over 160 faith and ecology courses taught in recent years.
As Pope Francis wrote in his recently released Encyclical, “It is my hope that our seminaries and houses of formation will provide an education in responsible simplicity of life, in grateful contemplation of God’s world, and in concern for the needs of the poor and the protection of the environment” (Paragraph 214).
ICSD today published a Report on Faith and Ecology in North American Seminaries, which reveals how seminaries are part of the faith-based ecological transformation for which Pope Francis has called. The report highlights how scores of seminary instructors are taking the lead in the emerging field of faith-based environmental education. Here is some online coverage of our Report.
ICSD also unveiled a searchable online faith and ecology syllabi collection, which makes scores of syllabi on faith and ecology easily accessible for instructors and administrators. The Report and syllabi collection were created based on support of the Julia Burke Foundation.
We found over 160 courses on faith and ecology at more than 50 North American seminaries offered in recent years. While only 22% of the seminaries we surveyed offered such courses, I think Pope Francis’ call will help to move others to follow suit.
A 2014 survey by the Public Religion Research Institute and the American Academy of Religion found that “most Americans who attend religious services at least once or twice a month hear little from their clergy leader about the issue of climate change.” Yet that may be changing. With thousands of seminarians enrolled in these courses in recent years, part of the next generation of religious leadership is emerging better equipped to teach on creation care and stewardship.
The Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development works to catalyze a transition to a sustainable human society through the active leadership of faith communities.
Yonatan Neril, Executive Director