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
To Till and to Keep: Living as stewards of God's creation in a consumer society

This is the full report format.

Short Description:   This 4-session study curriculum provides a Biblically-based exploaration of the Christian´s call to care for God´s creation in today´s consumer-oriented world.
Long Description:   Session 1 God the Homemaker (creation)
Session 2 Who am I, the average American? (ecological footprint)
Session 3 Justice, or just us?
Session 4 What now?
Reviewed by:   Pat Townsend, a Presbyterian laywoman and college professor from New York

Bibliographic & Purchasing Information
Author:   Carol Lena Miller
Publication date:   2002 Website for this resource:
We know of 1 source for purchasing this resource.
Address Office of Brethren Witness
Care for Creation Program
Phone 1-800-323-8039   Fax  
Website E-mail    
Price   Order #

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 The reviewer did not comment - assume 10-20 
Normal number/length of sessions If the curriculum's normal lesson plan is followed, there will be 4 class sessions each lasting about 1 hour?
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? none  
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 (Church of the Brethren). 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 
 Reading materials
 Presentation or lecture notes
 Prayer or worship resources

Other supportive materials provided: fliers for students are on web site or obtainable from Church of Brethren office
Other materials required:Bible, copies of print resources obtainable from web or denomination office, newsprint or board and markers
Description of the Leader's Guide:After being involved in teaching a group that spent a dozen sessions on consumption/simplicity I really doubt if the short and fairly shallow coverage here will really get at deeper levels of the issues involved for Americans in this. Particularly since 9/11 it is clear that a high consumption life style is seen as an obligation/essential aspect of what is to be defended as American freedom.
Description of the Student's Book:I did not download all the student materials from the web, but had some difficulty in doing so (frames didn´t print properly) But they seem reasonably well thought through. I like the fact that they have practical suggestions for lifestyle change, but it might be better if they were a little more openended, encouraging people to come up with their own ideas for change.

Materials review & Assessment of usability
Are all necessary materials provided in an accessible format? Minimal - the gist is present, but the leader will need to work at organizing or completing it  
Is the leader's guide comprehensive? Adequate - all necessary information is present  
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? Not Necessary to have teacher expertise  
Preparation time required by the leader:
Subjectively rated as heavy, medium or light
medium necessary to get materials from web or order well in advance 

Content focus
Is this curriculum explicitly focused on environmental awareness or action? Yes, as one of several emphases  
Does this curriculum deal with a specific environmental issue or problem? consumption, and the ecological footprint  
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
no, not technical, does give statistics on American consumption in comparison with other countries  
Biblical/theological content
Does the curriculum have explicit biblical or theological content? Yes, as one theme among several  
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?
No. I might borrow some ideas from it. Materials are labelled "Church of Brethren" which would be difficult to explain--who are they? why are we using their material? Also, it makes a big jump from "Americans consume a whole lot" to "we should consume less"--increasingly I see that people of good will generally prefer to say, what can we do to help other people live better so they won´t be jealous of what we are "blessed" with? Optimism that technology can solve the waste/environmental degradation problems.
What specific feedback do you have after reviewing these materials? What did you like? What did you not like?
I don´t think the random facts about consumption are presented in an integrated enough way. There is not enough here on which to base the discussion. I do like the focus on practical action. For our irregular attenders, though, we probably need to built practical responses into every session rather than saving it for session 4.
What questions did you have after reviewing the materials?
Would like to know more about Church of Brethren.
What, if any, concerns do you have about the use or implementation of this curriculum?
Again, it takes a single line of logic from high American consumption to ecological impact to reducing consumption to reduce injustice and reduce ecological impact. Our congregation would resist at each step of that logic--would need more than just assertation and Biblical texts.
What content, if any, does this program seem to be missing? What would you like this program to cover which it does not?
If they are moving to web-based materials (which is a good idea) I think they could use links to other web sites effectively for supporting materials such as statistics and fuller arguments about climate change for example.
Have you ever used this program in the past, or heard of others who have used it? What if any response was received?

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