2018 Leadership and Sustainability Camp at Bukidnon, Mindanao. Graduate Business School students from the Ateneo de Manila University. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: We asked Albrecht Arthur N.Arevalo, Ecojesuit Networking and Research Assistant, to share a short report about the work of Ecojesuits and how IAJU is a natural collaborator.

Ecojesuit is the global ecology network of Jesuits and partners  that engages, educates, and advocates for an integral relationship with people and the environment. Born out of deep discernment in response to the calls of GC 35 over ten years ago for the Society to act as a global body, advocate, promote international networking, it facilitates dialogue and engagemement to reconcile with God, one another, and Creation.

 

We focus our efforts around the unifying theme Action for Water: Care and Defend, emphasizing the central role of water both as a physical resource and as an integral part of life and human development. Water is an essential element of God’s Creation and life. Our efforts are focused through five related areas of action:

1. Disaster Risk Reducation and Water;

2. Energy Transition and Divestment;

3. Lifestyle, Organic Farming and SDGs;

4. Land-Use Change, Mining and  Resource Extraction; and

5. Education and Solidarity.

 

We are challenged to be part of a cohesive and productive society that is integral in its relations, and works hand-in-hand in sustaining the environment for all. The responsibility of Jesuit universities is not simply to feed the mind. A truly Ignatian education nourishes the soul, renews our vision, gives us tounges to speak truth, and the strength to carry our own crosses. It teaches us not to hide as our challenges become greater, but to embrace our mission with gratitude and hope. Institutions would do well in going beyond the confines of the campus, seeking to affect change on the ground and leveraging each other’s strengths. In this way, we may help in forming a new generation with a sense of justice and responsibility that can inspire others in solidarity.

Ecojesuit works closely with Jesuit universities and the IAJU with an understanding of the need for ecological conversion on both personal and structural levels. For example, it consistently participates in global events such as the annual Loyola University Chicago Climate Change Conference and the Sta. Clara University Economic Justice and the Common Good Conference. Support is also given to Healing Earth, a free-access online textbook that takes an integrated, global, and living approach to pressing ecological challenges. Its unique blend of environmental science, ethics, spirituality, and action earned it authors the Expanded Reason award from the Vatican’s Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI Foundation in 2017.

In the Deusto Assembly 2018: Transforming Our World Together, two Ecojesuit members were invited by the IAJU to be part of its Environmental and Economic Justice working group. The group wrote a position paper outlining several recommendations for Jesuit higher education institutions. Among these were heavy emphases on the need for drastic change in the current economic paradigm that seeks maximal profit at the expense of Creation, and a call for deeper collaboration among Jesuits and partners, including the IAJU.

In line with the recommendations cited, and further substantiated by the new Universal Apostolic Preferences, Ecojesuit proposes two ways forward with the IAJU:

First is to collaborate deeply in re-imagining business education in a Catholic University. How should our curricula be designed to promote an alternative economic model that is more humane and sustainable, and how can we form new business leaders who understand the intimate connection between environment and economy?

Second, we wish to gain the support of the IAJU to expand further the scope and impact of Healing Earth through content updates and translations. Given the online textbook’s proven success and it’s potential for a much broader geographic reach, working together on this could touch even more hearts, and move countless more people away from environmental apathy or ignorance, to environmental knowledge and action.

As we move forward, Ecojesuit seeks stronger collaboration with the IAJU. More than simply networking, we are also a community fuelled by a deep sense of care. We continue to hear the cries of the Earth and the Poor, and it is part of our mission to inspire future leaders to act with urgency and Gospel depth. As Pope Francis reminds us in Laudato Si’, “Environmental education should facilitate making the leaps towards the transcendent which gives ecological ethics its deepest meaning. It needs educators capable of developing an ethics of ecology, and helping people, through effective pedagogy, to grow in solidarity, responsibility and compassionate care.” (210)

Join us in action for water by sharing your initiatives and broader collaborations and partnering with Ecojesuit. We can share your activities looking for greater learning and synergy through Ecostream, an online platform for sharing ongoing initiatives in ecology and sustainability.