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  • Our History

The Environmental Justice and the Common Good Initiative emerged from the following sources:


In 2015, SCU organized an interdisciplinary conference, Our Future on a Shared Planet, which engaged leaders in Silicon Valley and beyond in conversation with the teachings of Pope Francis in his landmark encyclical Laudato Si’. The encyclical galvanized SCU faculty and staff to respond to Pope Francis’ call to promote an integral ecology that links the global challenges of environmental sustainability and social justice in our teaching, research, and service.


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In 2016, SCU’s Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education formed the interdisciplinary Faculty Collaborative for Environmental Justice and the Common Good. This group committed to build the Initiative and continue to lead it.


University-Community Partnerships for Environmental Justice & the Common Good - Santa Clara University May 2-3, 2019 blue and green tree with roots above a city skyline

In 2019, the Initiative organized a Conference at SCU focused on deepening university-community partnerships for environmental justice and the common good, which convened over 250 students, faculty, staff, visiting academics, and representatives of community-based organizations and government agencies. The  conference identified shared commitments to: 

  • Help Jesuit, Catholic, and other universities to partner with regional and global networks for research and teaching about environmental justice and integral ecology. 
  • Draw on exemplary projects to share lessons about how university and community partners can work together well. 
  • Incubate new collaborative projects with community-based organizations and strengthen regional networking in Northern California.


In 2019, the Initiative embarked on collaborations and discussions with colleagues at other Jesuit institutions in the U.S. and abroad, especially with the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities Integral Ecology Affinity Group; Fr. Michael Garanzini, S.J., the Secretary General of Higher Education for the Society of Jesus; Fr. Pedro Walpole, S.J. of the global publication EcoJesuit and the Environmental and Economic Justice Working Group of the International Association of Jesuit Universities; and Nancy Tuchman, Founding Dean of the School of Environmental Sustainability at Loyola University Chicago. These colleagues and others eventually formed the Initiative’s Advisory Board.


In 2019 and 2021, SCU’s President and Provost made multi-year funding commitments to launch the Initiative, which went on to raise additional external funds from foundations and donors.  This support has allowed the Initiative to develop a broad array of programs and networks and events that advance community-engaged research and learning for environmental and social justice, involve many students in this work, and provide research grants and professional development opportunities to SCU faculty and academic staff.