Eco-Justice Ministries
   Eco-Justice: "the well-being of all humankind on a thriving Earth"
 

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Eco-Curriculum Review for the title
Columbia River Watershed: Caring for Creation and the Common Good

This is the full report format.

Short Description:   "An International Pastoral Letter by the Catholic Bishops of the [Columbia River] Region."
Long Description:   The pastoral letter document seeks wisdome from Catholic Social Teaching and diverse community voices to respond to the challenging, ecological "signs of the times" throughout the Columbia River Watershed in the northwestern United States and southwestern Canada.

The resource set includes a study booklet, reflection guides and a video. These are priced and ordered separately.

Reviewed by:   Michelle Chapman, a United Church of Christ laywoman and scientist from Colorado

Bibliographic & Purchasing Information
Author:   Roman Catholic bishops of the Columbia River Region
Publication date:   2001 Website for this resource:   www.columbiariver.org
We know of 3 sources for purchasing this resource.
Source #1:  
Address Columbia River Pastoral Letter Project
Washington State Catholic Conference
508 2nd Ave. W.
Seattle, WA   98119  
Phone 206-301-0556   Fax 206-301-0558  
Website wacatholics.org/stay-informed/archive E-mail wscc@thewscc.org  
Price $7.00  Order # Video 
Source #2:  
Address Columbia River Pastoral Letter Project
Washington State Catholic Conference
508 2nd Ave. W.
Seattle, WA   98119  
Phone 206-301-0556   Fax 206-301-0558  
Website wacatholics.org/stay-informed/archive E-mail wscc@thewscc.org  
Price 1-49 copies $0.75 each; 50-99 copies $0.60 each; 100 or more $0.50 each  Order # Reflection Guide 
Source #3:  
Address Columbia River Pastoral Letter Project
Washington State Catholic Conference
508 2nd Ave. W.
Seattle, WA   98119  
Phone 206-301-0556   Fax 206-301-0558  
Website wacatholics.org/stay-informed/archive E-mail wscc@thewscc.org  
Price 1-49 books $4.00 each; 50-199 books $3.50 each; 200 or more $3.00 each  Order # Booklet 

Target Audience & Course Sessions
Age levels Preschool    Primary     Jr. High     Sr. High     Adult
NOTE: Our reviewer may have checked a wider age range than specified in the curriculum itself.
Optimum class size Practical size for discussion group is about 10 – 15. 
Normal number/length of sessions If the curriculum's normal lesson plan is followed, there will be 4-5 class sessions each lasting about 30-45 minutes
Are suggestions included for expanding/contracting the series? The materials do not provide specific suggestions.  
In the judgement of the reviewer:
 it is not reasonable to plan for a single, self-contained class session from these materials.
 using these materials, a class can be offered that runs for at least two sessions.
Are learners expected to do homework? Reflection and discussion through four aspects of involvement in the river watershed.  
Target audience:
 Interfaith - addressed people of many faiths
 Judeo-Christian - addressed to Jews & Christians
 Christian - addressed explicitly to Christians
 Not explicity faith-based - not much religious content
Note: The reviewer says that this curriculum is especially appropriate for members of the denomination or agency that developed it (Catholic). For example, it may explore a denominational policy statement. The reviewer also believes that it is possible for groups outside that tradition to make good use these materials.

Materials provided
Materials include:
 Leader's guide
 Student book
 Discussion questions
 Class activities - arts & crafts
 Class activities - group participation 
 Video
 Reading materials
 Presentation or lecture notes
 Prayer or worship resources
 
Other materials required:14 minute introductory video.
Description of the Leader's Guide:Six page foldout describing the four sections of the program. It includes facts, further information sources, discussion ideas, prayers, quotes, and points of reflection and discussion for each section.
Description of the Student's Book:27 page booklet describing how it is our duty to care for God’s creations. There are four sections focusing on different aspects of involvement with the River System. Each uses the thoughts of local Bishops, US Bishops, the Pope and writings in the Bible to convey our responsibility. There are nice, but small pictures. The letter is signed by all of the Bishops in the region. There are appendices with further sources of information, other interested groups, and a poetic reflection on the history and future of the river.

Materials review & Assessment of usability
Are all necessary materials provided in an accessible format? Yes - materials are very well laid out and comprehensive  
Is the leader's guide comprehensive? Minimal - the gist is present, but the leader will need to work at organizing or completing it  
Are class sessions clearly outlined? Adequate - all necessary information is present  
Will it be helpful to have a teacher with above-average expertise in the subject matter? Definitely helpful to have teacher expertise  
Preparation time required by the leader:
Subjectively rated as heavy, medium or light
Medium – Be prepared with knowledge of the Columbia River watershed, the industries, culture, and different peoples in the area. A large map would be helpful. 

Content focus
Is this curriculum explicitly focused on environmental awareness or action? Yes, as a primary focus  
Does this curriculum deal with a specific environmental issue or problem? The restoration of the Columbia River Watershed.  
How is the scope of the environmental impact positioned?  Impact on specific human communities
 Impact on humans in general
 Impact on humans and non-human parts of creation
 Impact on non-human parts of creation only  
Does the curriculum address questions of social or economic justice in relation to environmental issues? Yes - as a major theme  
Does the curriculum provide detailed content in a particular academic area?   For example, is there significant content in biology, physics, sociology, economics, etc.?
Biblical & theological content are covered below
Comments: Non-technical. The technical aspects, which are of course central to the success of the project, are left for the participants to explore.  
Biblical/theological content
Does the curriculum have explicit biblical or theological content? Yes, as a major emphasis  
How are the Biblical materials used? Individual texts are presented as meaningful ('proof texts')
Several texts are developed to show a larger biblical theme
Texts are placed in a historical or cultural context
Texts are presented as authoritative
Students are invited to comment/reflect on the meaning or authority of texts
Biblical texts are of equal importance to other scriptures/readings  
The checked statements reflect how ethical guidelines are grounded The Bible tells us how we should live/act
A theological tradition or other authority tells us how we should live/act
We should make decisions about how to live/act based on defined ethical norms
Caring for creation is an assumed norm  
The curriculum views humanity's role in creation as:
The checked lines are clearly affirmed
Domination - God created the Earth for human use; there are no real restrictions on what we can or should do.
Stewardship - "The Earth is the Lord's"" and humans are in a position of managing the creation according to God's will.
Partner - Humans are part of the web of creation, and participate in it as one species among many.
Intruder - Humans are separate from nature, and inherently destructive.
In evaluating changes to "solve" environmental problems, does the curriculum tend toward an approach that is: Confessional - I/we need to change
Confrontational - Some other person, policy or institutions needs to change
Combination - a mix of confessional and confrontational

Content approach
Which of these are a primary target outcome of the curriculum?  Increase awareness or concern about the environment in general
 Increase awareness of concern about a specific environmental issue
 Acquiring factual knowledge about an issue
 Changing or deepening personal beliefs
 Change in self-awareness or self-identity
 Changes in personal behaviors or lifestyle choices
 Influence on institutional (church or other) practices
 Increased political advocacy
 No change, or goal not clear
Range of perspectives offered:   A single perspective is offered
  Compares 2 or more perspectives
  A diversity of perspectives presented

Subjective Reviewer Feedback
In general, would you use this program with your congregation/organization? Why or why not?
I would not use it at our church because it is mainly inspiring a change in attitude using scripture, writings of the Pope and his Bishops. We do not need the inspiration as much as focus on the problem. What is wrong with the Watershed? While it would be an interesting study to find out, we are not really in position to do that from Colorado. I would recommend the program to those living in the Northwest. They would be able to quickly get through the inspiration part and start the discussions in a meaningful manner. Such a program would be wonderful to have for our own watershed. It brings awareness of where our water comes from and how our actions affect our water source and the other lives that depend on it also.
What specific feedback do you have after reviewing these materials? What did you like? What did you not like?
The reflection and discussion topics are very good. They are conducive for bringing together people from diverse backgrounds to talk about the one thing they have in common – The Columbia River.
What questions did you have after reviewing the materials?
What came from the discussion sessions mentioned at the end?
What, if any, concerns do you have about the use or implementation of this curriculum?
Those who are anti-catholic might miss the point. The Bishops have done a very good job developing a program to promote care of the river system, but it does have a very Catholic slant.
What content, if any, does this program seem to be missing? What would you like this program to cover which it does not?
They have purposely left out any detail about the issues of the Columbia River. They are vaguely mentioned – logging, mining, damns, nuclear power, diverse cultures and two countries – details are left for the participants to bring to the discussion.
Have you ever used this program in the past, or heard of others who have used it? What if any response was received?
No.


Eco-Justice Ministries   *   400 S Williams St, Denver, CO   80209   *   Home Page: www.eco-justice.org
Eco-Justice Ministries ended all programming on July 31, 2020. This site is an archive of writings and resources.
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