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
Environmental Racism: an ecumenical study guide

This is the general report format.

Short Description:   A four session ecumenical study guide that explores environmental racism: environmental hazards affecting people of color and underprivileged. Goal of guide is to study the spread of environmental privilege and the elimination (or fair distribution of ) environmental harms. Can be used for an evening discussion group or for individual reflection.
Long Description:   The 1987 UCC Commission on Racial Justice reported that race, more than class, was shown to be a determining factor where hazardous, toxic sites would be built and maintained. Communities of color receive slower, less effective response from regulatory agencies while companies caught polluting these communities have fewer penalties and cheaper fines than their counterparts in white neighborhoods. People of color face worse health burdens because of environmental pollution and have less access to health care, information, means of participation and economic and political influence in the processes of environmental decisions, laws, and policies. These realities led to the coining of the phrase “environmental racism.”

Variances in definition and a diversity of voices are key to fully understanding the complexities and layers of environmental injustice. Therefore, this resource does not create one definition of environmental racism or environmental justice. It instead offers a collection of definitions, through which a fuller understanding can be drawn.

The Introduction reviews Principles of Environmental Justice and read the voices of a gathered community of people of color who have first hand experience of environmental racism.

The Historical Overview gives a brief history of the movement, defines key terms, and gives modern examples of environmental racism and injustice.

The Theological Reflections section is intended as a guide for those individuals and groups who wish really to study—to reflect on, pray over, act on, and incorporate into faith—concerns of environmental justice. This guide can be used to conduct a four-week study series for an adult education hour, for an evening discussion group, or for individual reflection.

In studying the resource packet in the context of prayer, scripture, and reflection/action, it is hoped that your experience with the written materials in sections 1-4 will be a more meditative, reflective, and insightful time. You are then encouraged to choose at least one suggestion in the “Action Steps” section that you/your group can follow.

Session 1: Introduction
Session 2: Defining Environmental Racism and Justice
Session 3: Historical Overview
Session 4: Biblical and Theological Reflections

The Action Steps section provides Steps Toward Education and Steps Toward Advocacy

Bibliographic & Purchasing Information
Author:   Rebecca Barnes-Davies
Publisher:   Eco-Justice Working Group of NCC
Publication date:   circa 2005 Website for this resource:   www.nccecojustice.org/network

Target Audience & Course Sessions
Age levels Preschool    Primary    Jr. High    Sr. High     Adult
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 to 1.5 hours
Are suggestions included for expanding/contracting the series? This guide can be used to conduct a four-week study series for an adult education hour, for an evening discussion group, or for individual reflection.  
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? About 2 pages of reading is expected before and after sessions.  
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

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 supportive materials provided: Entire packet is all three: leader guide, student book and reading materials.
Other materials required:none specified
Description of the Leader's Guide:The guide is both leader and student book. The book provides eight to ten pages prior to the session guidelines, which are outlined as follows:

Process:

1. Open in prayer.

2. Read the scripture. If desired, read the scripture meditatively through lectio divina, a method of prayerful reading of the Bible. To practice lectio divina, read the passage a few times out loud and slowly. By the second or third time, allow a particular phrase or word to stand out to you. Share this word or phrase as a way that God is speaking to you today.

3. Read the section from the resource packet aloud. (For a group, it is helpful if each person has at least a photocopy of the section for the day so they can follow along and refer back to the section as needed.)

4. Use the “For Reflection and Action” questions to respond to the prayer, scripture, and information from the section.

Description of the Student's Book:The guide is both leader and student book. The book provides eight to ten pages prior to the session guidelines and students are expected to read these during the session. Each participant should have their own copy of this book.

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? Adequate - all necessary information is present  
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
Environmental racism is a complicated issue with many intricacies. The material is very accessible and "light" preparation, by reading first eight pages of material, would be preferred. 

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? "Environmental Racism" People of color face worse health burdens because of environmental pollution and have less access to health care, information, means of participation and economic and political influence in the processes of environmental decisions, laws, and policies. These realities led to the coining of the phrase “environmental racism.” Variances in definition and a diversity of voices are key to fully understanding the complexities and layers of environmental injustice. Therefore, this resource does not create one definition of environmental racism or environmental justice. It instead offers a collection of definitions, through which a fuller understanding can be drawn.  
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  
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
Other: Participants reflect on what the bible instructs regarding the issue.  
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


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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