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Transforming Jesuit Education

  • Transforming Jesuit Education

  • The Initiative has been asked to play a leadership role in incorporating community-engaged research and learning for environmental justice in Jesuit education around the world.

    In his keynote address at the Initiative’s April 2023 Climate and Environmental Justice Conference, Rev. Michael Garanzini, SJ, President of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU), commended the Initiative for providing a model of “community-based leadership for environmental justice with students and with neighborhood organizations.”  Garanzini asked SCU to be an “anchor institution” that can help lead U.S. and international Jesuit education to strengthen community-engaged research and learning that “lead to action, research, and advocacy.”  

    At Rev. Garanzini’s invitation, the Initiative’s Chris Bacon and Mike Schuck (Loyola University Chicago) are co-chairing an AJCU Laudato Sí commission that will make bold proposals on how to expand member schools’ commitments to environmental justice and sustainability in teaching, research, operations, and community engagement, which will be presented at the 2024 Faith, Justice, & Reconciliation Assembly. The Initiative’s Chad Raphael is serving on the commission’s working group on academics and chairing the working group on strengthening AJCU members’ networking for environmental justice. SCU Center for Sustainability Director Lindsey Kalkbrenner is on the operations working group.

    The Initiative is also advancing environmental justice through its professional development workshops for faculty and sustainability officers at Santa Clara and other institutions. The workshops are offered in partnership with SCU’s Center for Sustainability, which is a national training center affiliated with the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). In Summer 2023, Chad Raphael, Lindsey Kalkbrenner, Veronica Johnson, and Leslie Gray taught three-week-long online workshops for 58 faculty and staff leaders from SCU and 18 other institutions, including many Jesuit and Catholic universities, and our first Catholic high school participants. Many participants completed multiple workshops, which focused on integrating sustainability and justice across the curriculum and co-curriculum, teaching environmental justice and integral ecology, and pedagogy for sustainability and justice. Each workshop included two tracks: one for faculty to design new courses and modules, and one for sustainability officers to design training programs to offer at their own institutions. Participant evaluations highlighted the value of the individualized feedback from instructors and the wealth of resources provided.  

    Bacon and Raphael were also invited to teach workshops to leaders from Jesuit conferences around the world at the 2023 Ecojesuit Meeting on Commitment, Communication, and Collaboration at Balay Laudato Si’ in the ancestral domain of the Pulangiyēn community in Bendum, Malaybalay City, Mindanao, Philippines. Bacon led a session on Agroecology and Community-Based Research on Food and Water Justice - Methods and Process of Accompaniment, in which he shared insights gained from long-term community-based participatory action research partnerships and how agroecology serves as a framework for food systems change and advancing food and climate justice.  Raphael led a workshop on Communications and Networking for Advocacy and Climate Action, in which participants sketched initial designs for campaigns they aimed to launch to engage youth in advocacy for environmental justice in their regions.

    The Initiative will continue to work closely with our national and international partners to support the spread of community-engaged approaches to environmental justice education in the year to come. As Rev. Garanzini noted in his conference keynote, these efforts are “helping us understand a little bit more what our Jesuit University responsibility is to these communities that we live in, in this world that we live in.”

    Image: Fr. Garanzini at the Climate and Environmental Justice Conference.

    Posted: 10/10/2023