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
Visioning for God's Shalom

This is the general report format.
Shorter and more detailed report formats are also available for this title.

Short Description:   30 minute, 4 part video for Jr/Sr high - Mennonite (also known as Shalom Lifestyles)
Reviewed by:   Betsy Flory, a United Church of Christ clergywoman from Georgia

Bibliographic & Purchasing Information
Publication date:   Website for this resource:   none known
We know of 1 source for purchasing this resource.
Address Mennonite Media
1251 Virginia Ave.
Harrisonburg, VA   22802-2497  
Phone 800-999-3534   540-434-6701 Fax 540-434-5556  
Website E-mail  
Price $29.95  Order #  

Target Audience & Course Sessions
Age levels Preschool    Primary     Jr. High     Sr. High     Adult
The reviewer specifies:   It is aimed at youth, but could be adapted easily for adults
NOTE: Our reviewer may have checked a wider age range than specified in the curriculum itself.
Optimum class size There are several small group assignments which would suggest that classes not be smaller than 8 or 9. 
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? there are 3 learning sessions and a fourth optional "commitment to peace" reflection session  
In the judgement of the reviewer:
 using these materials, or even just one session from them, a reasonable, coherent and self-contained class can be offered in a single session of about an hour.
 using these materials, a class can be offered that runs for at least two sessions.
Are learners expected to do homework? There are some pretty good daily spiritual practices required between sessions as well as some small amounts of bible study and reflection.  
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 (Mennonite Media Productions). 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 materials required:The curriculum is self-contained. There are leader notes which are sufficient though not detailed. The prayer resources are for private devotion, not group worship.
Description of the Leader's Guide:I thought the leaderīs guide was actually pretty helpful. It is simple and not minutely detailed.The pages for the leader are straightforward and organized the same way for each session. The introduction lists the teaching presuppositions around which the curriculum is built: teacher and video are to raise questions and stimulate exploration, with the help of bible study, action,and community reflection.They are not intended to impart answers, but to generate questions, reflections nd response.

The disadvantage to this is that if the leader has not already done some significant reflection on shalom her/himself, he or she may miss opportunities to deepen the discussion beyond the listed discussion questions.

The resources used by youth are printed in the leaderīs guide and are intended to be copied for use in the classes.That is also a positive.

There was one concern: one session has a section on date rape. I am not certain I would lead that section as it is written. I think there is a lot of potential for a rape survivor to get "ambushed" in such a class and there is little preparation for the leader on how to do that section.

Description of the Student's Book:There is no student handbook. All materials for students are printed in the leader´s guide and intended to be copied for distribution to students.

Materials review & Assessment of usability
Are all necessary materials provided in an accessible format? Adequate - all necessary information is present  
Is the leader's guide comprehensive? Adequate - all necessary information is present  
Are class sessions clearly outlined? Yes - materials are very well laid out and comprehensive  
Will it be helpful to have a teacher with above-average expertise in the subject matter? Helpful to have teacher expertise  
Preparation time required by the leader:
Subjectively rated as heavy, medium or light
Moderate preparation time will probably do the job. There are a number of bible texts for each session and good preparation would require reading and reflecting on each of them. The sessions are aimed at stimulating discussion and reflection more than transferring information.However, it would be helpful to have done some serious thinking about shalom in order to facilitate the discussions. 

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? The curriculum calls for participants to live out shalom and so learn to care for the earth, as well as serve one another and deepen our relationship to God. It does not talk about specific ways to do that, though it does point to resources for extra study.  
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 part of the topic  
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
Other: The curriculum uses biblical texts and secular quotes. But reflection is grounded in the biblical texts. I believe the Mennonite perspective on peace is clearly evident in the choice of texts, but participants are encouraged to know their own consciences and make their own decisions based on what they have read, seen and experienced for themselves.  
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
Other:  The environment is mentioned in the session Peace with the World. Environmental consciousness is presented as an issue of human justice. If "each one sits under his own vine" then the world will know peace. Participants are called to serve humans and the earth.
Range of perspectives offered:   A single perspective is offered
  Compares 2 or more perspectives
  A diversity of perspectives presented

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Eco-Justice Ministries ended all programming on July 31, 2020. This site is an archive of writings and resources.
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