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
Christians and the Environment

This is the full report format.

Short Description:   Designed to spark discussion and thought about how to live out Godīs call for justice in our world. Each session includes Sojourners articles, questions for discussion, and ideas for further study.
Long Description:   The Bible offers many images that emphasize the profound relation between God and the environment--from the importance of Sabbath in Genesis to Christīs work in reconciling all creation to God. The Christian theology of "domination" has played a destructive role in the degradation of the environment, but the Christian theology of stewardship and sacred relationship between God, humans, and creation was also an essential element of the environmental movement. Combining Bible study, social and economic analysis, and personal stories, this collection of Sojourners articles is part of a series designed to spark discussion, thought, and action about how to live out Godīs call to love the whole world.

SESSION 1 -- A Theology of Creation
* "Renewing the Whole Creation," by Wesley Granberg-Michaelson

SESSION 2 -- A Love Relationship with the World
* "An Encounter With God," by Mary Evelyn Jegen
* "Why Iīm Walking to Work Tomorrow," by Rose Marie Berger
* "Youīre Going to Eat That?!" by Julie Polter

SESSION 3 -- Green Grassroots
* "On Fertile Ground," by Holly Lebowitz Rossi
* "Tennesseans Moving Mountains," by Beverly Wooden
* "Preaching Godīs Green Gospel," an interview with Sally Bingham

SESSION 4 -- The Earth is the Lord´s: Women and Communities of Color in U.S. Environmental History
* "Good Housekeeping Award," by Rose Marie Berger
* "What Sustains Over the Long Haul?" an interview with Lois Gibbs
* "Asian Immigrant Women Advocates," by Rose Marie Berger

Reviewed by:   Frederica Helmiere, from Washington, with interests including: ecofeminism, international development, environmental ethics

Bibliographic & Purchasing Information
Author:   Editors of Sojourners Magazine
Publisher:   Sojourners
Publication date:   2007 Website for this resource:   store.sojo.net/product_p/dg_env.htm
We know of 1 source for purchasing this resource.
Address Sojourners
3333 14th Street NW, Suite 200
Washington, DC   20010  
Phone 202-328-8842   Fax 202-328-8757  
Website www.sojo.net E-mail sojourners@sojo.net  
Price $9.95 - PDF download and reprint rights for 10 copies  Order # DG_ENV 

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:
 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? Participants could reasonably be asked to read the 6 to 8 pages of topic exploration in each of the four sections before coming together as a group, but it´s also possible to read these pages together as a group. If so, save 15 to 20 minutes for prep reading.  
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 (Sojourners). 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:none specified
Description of the Leader's Guide:No leader´s guide provided.
Description of the Student's Book:There is no guide, or no description was provided

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? No - the resources are not adequate for a basic teacher  
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
Light, in the sense that provocative discussion questions are provided for each section and discussion could presumably take off from there. Heavy, in the sense that the topics under consideration are weighty and multidisciplinary. Economics, agriculture, ethics, theology, gender issues, hermeneutics, international development-- all these subjects are touched upon and are relevant to a discussion on Christianity and the Environment. A strong leader may have read a book or two on the subject beforehand. 

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? Yes: mountaintop removal, renewable energy, energy efficiency, sabbath rest, HIPC (highly indebted poor countries) debt, technology, natural disasters, local food movements and CSAs, environmental racism, women in the environmental movement, labor rights, waste reform and recycling, and toxins.  
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  
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
Nothing detailed, but it does logically incorporate various other disciplines in the social sciences and humanities.  
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?
I would consider using this curriculum in a congregation or organization but not as a first resort. It offers a variety of voices and perspectives, which I appreciate, and it canvasses a number of significant environmental concerns in a succinct manner, but I find it a) somewhat dated (the most recent installment was in a 2003 Sojourners issue, there are references to the early Bush administration and īrecentī hurricanes from 1998) and b) less compelling to motivate behavioral change than I would hope. It would be fitting for a congregation newly exploring environmental issues and perhaps somewhat suspicious of the religious relevance of the environmental movement.
What specific feedback do you have after reviewing these materials? What did you like? What did you not like?
I appreciate the inclusion of voices of color, womenīs voices, and multi-denominational representation in this discussion guide. The discussion questions are solid; they prompt reflection on behavioral change, developing partnerships and recognizing the interconnected nature of these issues. I would have liked a deeper probing and questioning of the underlying structures of some of the environmental problems. For example, in the interview with Sally Bingham and IPL, I would have liked to see a discussion question around whether infrastructure reforms on churches accesses our deeper underlying energy dependence and what larger changes may need to be made in consumer lifestyles.
What questions did you have after reviewing the materials?
What is happening today with these individuals and organizations? Many are 10-20 years further along their path now than when this was written.
What, if any, concerns do you have about the use or implementation of this curriculum?
The reviewer did not answer this question
What content, if any, does this program seem to be missing? What would you like this program to cover which it does not?
For what it seeks to do, it seems complete (except for being somewhat outdated)
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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