Catholic universities that have taken Pope Francis’s messages found in Laudato Si’ seriously have been recognized by the Sierra Club’s national magazine. Loyola Marymount University, the University of San Diego, and Loyola University Chicago have been recognized as members of the top 20 green colleges and universities in North America. According to a press release, the schools were rated as “have displayed a deep and thorough commitment to protecting the environment, addressing climate issues, and encouraging environmental responsibility.”
Loyola Marymount University made significant changes, as seen by their jump in rankings from the mid-60s to number six. They are also the first Catholic college or university on the list. The university now has 90,000 square feet of solar panels, an irrigation system that uses reclaimed water, and a university-led recycling plant. They also plan to “divert all food waste by 2018.”
University of San Diego also made significant improvements jumping from number 83 to number 10 in 2017. The University took Pope Francis’s mission to heart by listing “care for our common home” as part of their university mission. It also operates one of San Diego’s only electronic waste recycling centers, and has saved more than 10 million kilowatt hours and 30 million gallons of water annually since 2010.
Loyola University Chicago still remains ranked in the top 20 schools. This year Loyola students partnered with the Archdiocese of Chicago “to conduct energy audits on Catholic churches, cemeteries and hospitals as well as opened a student-run green café and a Compost Collection Network where students train local businesses to reduce waste.”
The scoring was based on 11 categories including energy, investments, good academics, planning, and water. The rankings showcase universities and colleges green initiatives and allow for indications of the campus’s sustainability efforts.
From August 10-13, 2017, Seattle University will host the Commitment to Justice in Jesuit Higher Education Conference.
Keynote speakers include
Eboo Patel, founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC)
Rev. Bryan Massingale, professor at Fordham University and author specializing in social ethics, with teaching/research interests in the areas of racial justice, liberation theology, and Catholic Social Thought.
Sr. Simone Campbell, S.S.S., executive director of NETWORK, a Catholic organization promoting social justice in public policy.
Rev. Michael Garanzini, S.J., former president of Loyola University Chicago, and the Secretary of Higher Education for the Society of Jesus
“As a Catholic, Jesuit university, Loyola is guided by the responsibility to care for our world and especially those who are suffering the most. They’ve made climate change a priority for several reasons:
Loyola’s commitment to protecting the vulnerable predisposes them to address issues of global and generational inequality – and climate change will exacerbate social justice issues globally and locally
As a research institution, many of their students and faculty are seeing the impacts of climate change in their fields of study
They believe it is much more efficient to prevent problems than respond to catastrophes”
Loyola created a three part action plan, addressing climate policies on campus, creating curriculum around climate, and developing community development. Details on these three areas are available in the full article here.
Congratulations to Loyola University Chicago for their great work!
Join Ignatian Solidarity Network on Thursday, February 16 at 3 PM EST for an online conversation with Jesuit college and university faculty and administrators on how to support students who are undocumented. A new political landscape in the U.S. has brought with it unique realities for people in the without documentation, including students at Jesuit colleges and universities. How are faculty and administrators responding to the changing reality facing these students?
Saint Peter’s University hosted a prayer service featuring a student choir and students sharing their experience of being undocumented. The service ended with an opportunity to contact Congress on behalf of humane immigration policies.
The purpose of the call to prayer was to illuminate, through solidarity and action, the dignity of our immigrant brothers and sisters, and the value of each person’s contribution to our country. To see prayers and resources related to the event, visit the Ignatian Solidarity Network website.
How are you practicing solidarity on your campus? Share your story with us! Email Lexie Bradley.
The Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs Office at Loyola University Chicago , partnering with the Ignatian Solidarity Network, have shared a video presentation from their “Undocumented Students Ally Trainings” program. This video focuses on skills to understand the value and importance of exploring the experiences and perspectives of undocumented students. The training session aims to generate knowledge for self-learning and to increase on-campus support for undocumented students.
At Loyola University Chicago, upon completing the training, trainees receive a placard that recognizes them as allies and as points of support for undocumented students on campus. The goal is that participants display these placards in their work area to invite questions and/or dialogue about the issues that impact this community. For more information, see the blog post from Ignatian Solidarity Network.
Ten Catholic colleges and universities were featured as 2016 Cool Schools in Sierra Magazine. This list measures colleges in their sustainability efforts in energy, investments, co-curricular, food, innovation, academics, planning, purchasing, transport, waste, and water. Colleges reported their programs and initiatives through the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS), a program of The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).
Schools included are Loyola University of Chicago (featured in the Top 20 Cool Schools), Aquinas College, Creighton University, Gonzaga University, Loyola Marymount University, Saint Louis University, Santa Clara University, Seattle University, St. John’s University, and Villanova University.
Congratulations to the colleges on their sustainability initiatives!
In the year since Pope Francis released his encyclical on care for the environment, Laudato Si’, many Catholics have taken seriously the message to be better stewards of the earth. Pope Francis encourages a connection between environmental concerns and issues of justice, noting that the issue of climate change involves hearing “both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” (Laudato Si’, no. 49). Catholic colleges are addressing this dual call in many ways, incorporating the theme of environmental justice into classes, study abroad opportunities, and campus events.
Earlier this year, the University of St. Thomas (UST), began a three-part program incorporating environmental justice into a freshman symposium class, local service-learning efforts, and study abroad program in Costa Rica. The projects were funded by the Global Solidarity Grant program, a collaboration between Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities and Catholic Relief Services, which awards grants to colleges and universities as a way of increasing awareness of global injustice and expanding student involvement in a faith that does justice. In the UST freshman symposium, Sister Damien Marie Savino, chair of the Environmental Studies program at UST, recently gave a guest lecture and led a discussion on Catholic Social Teaching, climate change, and sustainability efforts on campus and in the local community.
In addition to classroom learning and discussion, students served at Plant-It-Forward, a local community farm-share that partners with refugees to provide fresh local produce to the Houston area. Additionally, the UST sustainability committee hosted a sustainability dinner for the students in the seminar with a farm-to-table meal, along with a discussion on how to improve sustainability efforts on campus.
The final part of the expansive program was a service trip to Costa Rica where students worked with a small coffee-producing community. While serving in Costa Rica, students connected their knowledge of climate change from the seminar and experience in the local community to a global perspective. The students were moved by the relationships built across cultures that helped them shape their understanding of care for creation. They also reported that their lives were changed by meeting the people in Costa Rica and experiencing a culture that is so intertwined with the environment. One first-year student, Elena Dang, said she learned that “a huge difference in lifestyles between the USA and Costa Rica is the respect for Mother Nature. Children walk the streets, people sit outside, many restaurants have outside seating. There’s a sense of respect and veneration for nature because of how it provides so much for everyone.”
UST plans to continue this program so that service learning will flourish as a foundation of a UST education.
In another project funded by the Global Solidarity Grant program, students at Cabrini University organized a climate change simulation that focused on the effects of climate change on the poor and vulnerable, called “Tame the Change.” The simulation was led by students in a class called “Our Interdependent World,” a part of the Engagements with the Common Good core curriculum and taught by Jerome Zurek, in collaboration with the Wolfington Center, the center for community engagement and research at Cabrini, Catholic Relief Services ambassadors, the university communications department, and Cabrini Mission Corps. “Tame the Change” started as a topic study on how climate change is not only affecting the environment but also harming vulnerable people who lack the resources to safeguard themselves against the negative outcomes of environmental changes. The simulation modeled how climate change has a greater effect on the poor who rely on the land for their livelihood. In the simulation, students were put into pairs, where one was assigned to a developed country and one to a developing country, to represent the effect of daily decisions of those in developed countries on those living in developing countries. At various stations, participants were presented with everyday choices they typically face on campus, involving food waste, plastic water bottle use, and energy use by electronics. Every choice that the person in the developed country made affected the other to indicate the interconnectedness of people across the globe. At the conclusion of the event, each of the over 200 participants were given reflection booklets based on passages from Laudato Si’ to help them reflect upon what they had learned during the event.
“Tame the Change” promoted solidarity with those who are strongly affected by climate change. As the class ended, students expanded the project to share it with more of the campus. To conclude the project, students built a website that enables other student groups to facilitate events similar to “Tame the Change.”
Tom Southard, the director of the Wolfington Center, noted that the event has resulted in a renewed commitment among Cabrini students and faculty members to combat climate change. Student groups are looking to facilitate more programs with an environmental focus and faculty members are shifting their research to include the sociology and science behind climate change.
Another example of encouraging students to thinking critically about care for the environment is Loyola University of Chicago’s third annual Climate Change Conference. The conference, hosted by the Institute of Environmental Sustainability, was titled “Global Climate Change: Challenges and Economic Solutions,” and focused on the effects of climate change on the global economy. During the conference, students in the Dance Theatre and University Chorale performed Earth Song, a song composed by Frank Ticheli, to highlight the connection between human actions and the environment. The performance reflected on and celebrated climate change initiatives, bringing the conversation into the realm of the arts. The students aimed to convey meaning through art, as a language that can be understood on multiple levels. Emily Miller, a first-year student in the University Chorale, commented that she hoped the performance would “appeal to the emotions of those who attend” the conference. A video of the performance is available on the conference website. This interdisciplinary approach to the issue of climate change enables Loyola University to engage students, faculty, and staff in a dialogue to effect change.
Through the classroom, student programs, and university events, Catholic universities are addressing the environmental crisis in a variety of creative projects. These colleges and universities embody Pope Francis’s call to care for our common home as stewards of creation, hearing both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.
Camilla MacKenzie is an undergraduate student at The Catholic University of America and the Peace and Justice Intern at the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities.
ACCU recently released the fall edition of Update, our quarterly newsletter. Read Update in full here. Peace and Justice highlights include:
Global Solidarity Grants Increase Awareness of Catholic Social Teaching at Benedictine University, Cabrini College, Dominican University, St. Norbert’s College, and the University of St. Thomas (TX).
Catholic Colleges Bring Higher Education to the Incarcerated: Saint Francis College, Donnelly College, Holy Cross College, University of Notre Dame, and La Salle University implement programs to bring higher education to those incarcerated.
Spring Hill Alumni Participate in Inaugural Service Trip to Belize where they worked building homes.
Loyola Chicago Students Donate Care Packages to Soldiers serving in Iraq through a partnership with Aramark by using the remaining balance on meal plan to purchase care package materials
Loras Student Wins Interfaith Leadership Award- Recent graduate Samantha Eckrich was awarded the Mike Hammer Interfaith Leadership Award, which recognized her effort in promoting interfaith cooperation on campus.
This year marks the 30th Annual Social Action Summer Institute (SASI), hosted by the Archdiocese of Chicago and taking place at Saint Xavier University. The five-day national conference will focus on issues of racism, gun violence, and other themes of Catholic Social Teaching.
Taking place July 17-21, “Who is my Neighbor?” will be a conference full of engaging dialogue, prayer, and reflection on what it means to live Catholic Social Teaching in our daily lives. Register here by July 7!