Editor's note: Kathleen Smythe, Chair of the History Department, Xavier University, shared with IAJU this great initiative.

Abstract: Faculty and staff associated with Jesuit higher education have come together to articulate and enhance sustainability efforts across their institutions. The result is an articulation of five themes aligned with the Ignatian Pedagogy Paradigm for addressing sustainability in the academy.


We are in crisis and failing at our mission


Pope Francis, building on his predecessors, has declared it a moral responsibility to address the ecological crisis. Laudato Si is a call to action grounded not only in the Catholic tradition, but also in rigorous scholarship in the natural and social sciences. Jesuit universities have responded in a variety of ways.


We cannot rely on the same ideas and technologies that have created these ecological threats. Our students know this in their soul. We must be the leaders and co-educators they need to respond to the large-scale challenges of global climate destabilization. We are living in a different world, undeniably altered by human impact. The challenges on Earth, as Bill McKibben calls this new planet, demand a different education.[1]


Preventing environmental catastrophe will require collective action. Yet individually, and in our various collective endeavors in the Jesuit educational network, we often worsen the situation. In 1993 the International Commission on the Apostolate of Jesuit Education gave The Ignatian Pedagogy Paradigm (IPP) a practical orientation. Now, a practical orientation in educating for a sustainable future is well past due. We in higher education are training shepherds for a flock and a pasture that we are failing to protect. By not teaching the civic, ecological and spiritual skills and dispositions needed to preserve the commons, we are contributing to the tragedy. This is a glaring mission failure for Jesuit educational institutions.


We need a new educational model to educate resilient citizens


We must grasp the opportunity to provide a civic education grounded in spiritual, ecological, and economic approaches appropriate for these times. Modern education tends to endorse Francis Bacon’s equation of knowledge with power, separating the Liberal Arts from other branches of knowledge oriented toward practical ends or economic purposes. But the power of such disciplines is based on knowledge that can only be properly directed and governed by a liberal arts education acknowledging the beautiful order that permeates all of creation.


The pedagogy outlined below was developed through intentional conversations among faculty who teach courses on the topic of sustainability. The original themes were characterized as a series of desolations, or obstacles or challenges in teaching. We reformulated the themes as consolations, proactive targets, goals, and outcomes to transform the learning experience for students.

Ignatian Pedagogy Paradigm

Five Themes of Ignatian Pedagogy for Sustainability


The IPP seeks personal growth through ethical orientation. We propose a broadening and deepening of this pedagogy to explicitly link personal growth (expansive self-understandings) to civic responsibility. We stress civic responsibility as important as social justice, which too often takes the form of palliative remedies (easier and shorter-term) rather than institutional change (harder and longer-term). In this spirit we outline the following themes for an Ignatian Pedagogy for Sustainability that is explicitly pointed at providing an education directly addressing the pressing issues of our time.


The (IPP) calls for integration of context, experience, reflection, action, and evaluation. The salient element of our collective context and lived experience is an unsustainable ecological, ethical, social, and economic trajectory. Such a context is debilitating and unhealthy. The education we offer has to provide another kind of experience to build resilience and a capacity to act.


There are at least two ways to integrate IPP with our five themes. The first, outlined below, is to link together specific themes with each of the IPP elements noting opportunities for exploration because the themes provide inherent points of intersection in the study of sustainability. Second, there may be an intensive focus on a particular theme in the pedagogy and, thus, the faculty member may choose to engage with the IPP on a single theme.


Table 1. Ignatian Pedagogy Paradigm and Ignatian Pedagogy for Sustainability






Join the team. Learn more.

If this work is of interest to you, we hope to hear from you. We are looking for more collaborators and more ways to ensure that our teaching is as powerful and relevant as it needs to be. You can find more information about our project at Ecology Educators. You can also contact Jay at [email protected] and Kathleen at [email protected]. We meet one to two times a year to further develop the pedagogy, share best practices, spread the word, and to collectively experience the kind of education we are developing. We would love to have you join us.



[1] Bill McKibben, Eaarth: Making Life on a Tough New Planet (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2010).


Further information: 

Here we have a list of Environmental Sustanability centers, schools and institutes of our global network. The development of this directory is in development. Please, give us feedback at [email protected] 

Regional Association Institution Name Country Faculty/Center name
AJCU--AP Sophia University Japan School of global Environmental Studies
AJCU--AP Ateneo Naga University Philipinnes Institute for Environmental Conservation and Research
AJCU--AP Fu Jen Catholic University Taiwan Research and Education Center for Regional Environment
Kircher Network Namur Belgium Institute of Life, Earth and Environment (ILEE)
Kircher Network Campion Hall, University of Oxford UK Laudato Si' Research Institute (LSRI)
AJCU Loyola New Orleans US Center for Environmental Law and Land Use
AJCU Seattle University US Center for Environmental Justice and Sustainability
AJCU Saint Louis U. US Center for Environmental Education and Training
AJCU Le Moyne US Center for the Study for Environmental Change
AJCU Georgetown University US Georgetown Environmental Law and Policy Program
AJCU Loyola University Chicago US Institute of Environmental Sustainability
AUSJAL Pontificia Universidade Católica do Río de Janeiro (PUC) Brazil Environmental Engineering Program
AUSJAL Pontificia Universidad Javeriana - Bogotá Colombia Environmental Studies for Development 
AUSJAL Universidad Rafael Landívar Guatemala Environmental and Agricultural Sciences
AUSJAL Ciudad de México Mexico Environmental Program
AUSJAL Universidad Iberoamericana Puebla Mexico Department of Environmental Science
AUSJAL Universidad Iberoamericana  Tijuana Mexico Environmental and Rural Studies