Global Solidarity Grant Deadline Extended- APPLY NOW!

Is your campus advancing Catholic mission through a globally focused project? Apply now for a 2018 Global Solidarity Grant!

Campus initiatives addressing societal issues such as, but not limited to issues surrounding migration, human trafficking, or global sustainability may be eligible to receive a 2018 Global Solidarity Grant.

Sponsored by the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities and Catholic Relief Services, Global Solidarity Grants aim to support projects that are innovative and high-impact, that combine prayer, spiritual development, and the examination of values with educational objectives. ACCU member institutions working creatively to advance Catholic mission through global solidarity are encouraged to apply now and be considered for an award of up to $3,000.

The deadline to apply for a grant has been extended to Friday, November 9! Visit the ACCU website for more details about how your campus can receive a Global Solidarity Grant!

For questions, please contact njalandoni@accunet.org.

 Catholic Colleges Heed Pope’s Call to Protect the Earth

On Sunday, we celebrate the 48th anniversary of Earth Day! Since the release of Pope Francis’ second encyclical, Laudato Si, Catholics have been called in a unique way to respond to the “the throwaway culture” and “care for our common home.” Earth Day offers Catholics a time to reflect on the beauty of creation and our role as stewards of creation. The Holy Father urgently appeals to “every living person” to protect one another and the planet. To heed the call, Catholic colleges and universities have been integrating sustainable practices on campuses in small and large ways that both honor the earth and affirm the values of their institutions.

St. Mary's

Many universities have incorporated humanity’s call to protect the environment into their mission statements to facilitate the work throughout their campuses. One example can be found at Saint Mary’s College of California. Its mission statement reads, “In fidelity to our educational missions and Catholic principles, Saint Mary’s College is committed to leadership in fostering environmental literacy, modeling a culture of sustainability, and creating an equitable future for all of humankind in harmony with nature.” Having a clear, yet comprehensive mission statement has allowed the campus to make large strides in a short amount of time. In a 2017 Sustainability Report, St. Mary’s stipulated that in order to achieve its objectives, the campus community must be engaged at all levels, take advantage of intellectual resources, have transparent evaluation and planning processes, and ensure that each measure taken is related to its stated goals. Last year, the college was able to do just that. Developments include the addition of mobile solar generators, updated lighting and natural gas systems, and installation of compost bins across campus.

By far, the largest impact came from the compost bins. According to the report, “Landfill [waste] decreased from 655 to 439 tons in the past two years.” St. Mary’s said it was able to make the drastic change through concerted efforts to educate the community on what goes into each recycle bin and provide the right infrastructure and signage within campus grounds. “With those in place, a culture can build.”

Since the inception of its sustainability committee in 2010, John Carroll University has implemented a number of initiatives throughout campus as outlined in its report last year. One of the ways was by integrating “green” measures in campus cafeterias. Changes in its food service facilities began in 2008, with the decision to go tray-less in the Schott Dining Hall. This has reduced food waste and minimized the water and energy that would have been used for tray cleaning. Also, when students want to take food out from the cafeterias, they are given reusable, biodegradable containers rather than foam ones that would eventually occupy a landfill.

Much of John Carroll’s success can be attributed to ongoing collaboration with the Office of Residence Life. The student housing department recently added new wireless thermostats and laundry machines to its residential buildings to improve energy efficiency and reduce water use. In addition, Residence Life regularly hosts informational events to better educate students on sustainability practices.

Xavier

Xavier University is incorporating academics as part of its sustainability initiatives. The university is offering undergraduate degree programs in sustainability, including economics and management; economics, sustainability, and society; and land, farming, and community. Xavier notes that “each of these three academic majors provide experiential learning opportunities combined with a year-long capstone project, encompassing everything students have learned over the past four years.” The programs present additional opportunities for students “to care for our common home.”

Currently, senior Economics, Sustainability, and Society (ECOS) majors are preparing for their capstone projects, which they will present at the end of April. Throughout their four years at Xavier, the students have “acquired a comprehensive understanding of sustainable economies, including the study of natural resources, plus ecological and environmental problems. Students also gain an understanding of social justice questions related to the distribution of economic products and resources,” according to the university website. The program allows them to carry their studies beyond the classroom. For example, one senior ECOS capstone project focuses on improving the environmental profile of Xavier University by changing campus behaviors and attitudes. As a Jesuit institution, Xavier is committed to fostering students that are stewards of a healthier earth.

Catholic colleges and universities continue to respond to the call of Pope Francis in Laudato Si by implementing sound sustainability practices. These colleges and universities recognize the importance of seeking full campus participation to be most effective in their missions. And, as we mark Earth Day, let’s take time to reflect on the lifestyle changes we can make for a more just and sustainable world.

More Resources: Laudato Si

Looking for more resources on the new encyclical, Laudato Si’?  The USCCB Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development have shared the following resources:

Some additional helpful resources include:

Additionally, Cindy Wooden of Catholic News Service has shared a helpful glossary of terms used by Pope Francis, while John Allen of Crux has published two articles analyzing the history of the Church’s teachings on the environment and the impact of the encyclical in the U.S.

In light of the encyclical, many Catholic colleges and universities have shared how their Catholic mission drives their commitment to the environment and implementation of sustainability initiatives.

  • Loyola University Chicago alumnus Zac Davis wrote a piece on how his alma mater leads the way in sustainability initiatives for America.
  • Saint Vincent College shared their sustainability initiatives, inspired by the Benedictine tradition of environmental stewardship.
  • University of Saint Francis (IN) campus ministry has shared that they, along with Our Sunday Visitor, will host a conference on campus this fall to discuss and study the encyclical.
  • A community of scholars and practitioners gathered at University of St. Thomas (MN) to discuss Human and Natural Ecology: Economic, Political and Cultural Implications, in anticipation of the encyclical.  Visit the Center for Catholic Studies website to learn more and read presentation summaries.

Visit ACCU’s webpage on the release of Laudato Si to learn more!

Laudato Si Release: Learn

Earlier today, Pope Francis released his long-awaited encyclical letter, Laudato Si.  We at ACCU are sharing resources and best practices to help our campuses pray for commitment to care for creation, learn about the encyclical and our call to stewardship, and act upon our beliefs to work for the common good.

˜LEARN˜

Pope Francis has released his encyclical, Laudato Si, to teach Catholics around the world about environmental stewardship.  The full encyclical, along with brief comments, and a list of quotations, can be found on Catholic Climate Covenant’s website, while Jim Yardley and Laurie Goodstein have compiled a strong analysis of the themes of the encyclical for The New York Times.

Laudato Si continues Pope Francis’ commitment to caring for all members of creation and the world around us, furthering the Catholic Church’s engagement with environmental justice.  Catholic Climate Covenant explains that previous leaders Pope Benedict XVI and Saint John Paul II further developed the Church’s teachings on care for creation. The U.S. Bishops have interpreted and applied these teachings in a local context for the American Catholic Church through a number of statements and letters, including advocating for legislation that promotes responsible care for the environment.

Other Resources to Learn More

Looking for a short history of the Church’s teaching on stewardship?  Watch “Catholicism and the Challenge of Ecology“, a video from Catholic News Service.

Interested in a resource more specific to Catholic higher education?  Xavier University has compiled a list of resources on higher education, Catholic identity, and sustainability.  Highlights include remarks on sustainability and Catholic mission from the president, Fr. Michael Graham, SJ, and professor Kathleen Smythe, Ph.D. on Jesuit identity and sustainability.

Catholic Higher Education Mission and Identity Database

Need fresh ideas for embodying Catholic identity in your work? Looking for a successful Catholic mission-related program to replicate on your campus? ACCU has launched a searchable inventory of promising practices in Catholic higher education mission and identity. This database includes programs, events, curricular designs, department structures, publications, and other practices that foster a greater sense of the institution’s Catholic mission and identity in the campus community.

If you have a practice to share, please complete the online form, and we will be glad to promote your good work!