Develop ecological education

To ensure our children inherit a safe and livable planet, we must design education systems in the spirit of integral ecology. That includes promoting equitable access to education, developing ecological curricula, encouraging ecological leadership and action in our school communities, and ecological restoration activities.

Help your school community develop ecological education systems with this Ignatian toolkit.

Reflect

Many people first encounter Jesuits and Ignatian spirituality in the hallways and classrooms of a Jesuit school. Jesuit colleges and universities, high schools and primary schools, middle schools and even preschools exist across the globe, from Rome to Russia, Belize to Baltimore and everywhere in between.

So, it’s surprising to learn that initially St. Ignatius of Loyola didn’t envision education as the mission of the Society of Jesus. Ignatius and his early companions dreamed of a missionary order, one that would go wherever the need was greatest and accompany God’s people.

And yet, not a decade after the Society was officially formed, Ignatius reconsidered. Responding to a request to open a new school, he set the Society on a seemingly contradictory path. Jesuits would be both missionaries committed to living a vow of poverty and school masters tethered to great and powerful campuses throughout the world. The Jesuits found themselves needing to master new subject areas — they became experts in science, drama, history and more. They became fundraisers and administrators, too.

The Jesuits, in short, found themselves thrust into the heart of society, inescapably bound up with the needs of society’s present and the direction of society’s future. 

It was a bold decision with effects that still reverberate powerfully. Imagine the Society of Jesus today if Jesuits had never founded a single school.

We, too, are called to be bold in response to the educational needs of our time. We cannot engage our world today without facing our present environmental crisis, so we cannot be effective educators — whether in our schools or in our broader communities — without integrating this ecological reality.

This decision to develop and integrate ecological education into our schools, parishes and homes will have a profound impact on our future. This moment demands that we read and respond to the signs of the times — just as Ignatius and his early Jesuit companions did.

Discussion Questions

With members of your household, community or institution, discuss the fruits of your prayers and how they might point you toward concrete action. Consider these reflection questions for guidance:

  • Reflect on your own education and environmental knowledge. What topics interest you? What do you want to learn more about?
  • How can you integrate ecological education into your home or community?
  • Consider your strengths. How can you leverage these as an ecological educator?

Respond

Brainstorm your action

Caring for Our Common Home in Jesuit Schools

This resource from Jesuit educators offers step-by-step plans for how students, teachers, parents, and school administrators can design ecological education systems.

Presentation: Schools Change to Systems Change

This presentation, originally given at the 2021 Ignatian Family Teach-In, offers steps for educators to get involved with the Laudato Si’ Action Platform.

Share your actions

Send us a brief email, telling us how you and your community are walking the path of renewal. We may feature your story on this page or on our Twitter, @JesuitJustice.

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