Global Environmental Citizenship Course
In September of 2020, the International Association of Jesuit Universities (IAJU), launched the Magis Exchange program, an innovative and one-of-a-kind higher education student exchange program. Its goal is to connect youth across the globe through participation in a semester-long academic and service international exchange program rooted in the Jesuit tradition.
At the core of Magis Exchange we can find the Global Environmental Citizenship Course (GECC). The course is focused on shaping young people who care about our common home, keeping in mind a dimension of ethics and reflecting on personal convictions as they attempt to understand contemporary problems that our world faces. The course seeks to build a global community, promote Ignatian "men and women for others" in a cross-cultural setting, foster leadership, and knowledge about current pressing social and ecological issues.
The course takes place over two semesters, the semester before their mobility and the semester of their international experience, during which Magis students examine local and global impacts of biodiversity loss, water scarcity, and global climate change; evaluate these impacts from both a moral and spiritual perspective; and act as responsible local and global citizens in view of these challenges.
In the first semester, students recognize and analyze these environmental concerns in their local context, and in the second semester they have the opportunity to revisit these environmental issues at their international destination. This interactive and cross-cultural experience allows students to compare, contrast, and illuminate the diversity of nature as they learn from both their home country and their host country.
So far, two cohorts have participated in the GECC. The first group began their journey in March 2021 with the participation of 14 students from seven countries and nine institutions. They just began their second semester in September 2021 while a second cohort, 21 students from eleven countries and thirteen institutions, began their first semester! The course is available in both Spanish and English.
The primary resource for this course is the Healing Earth free and accessible online textbook. Created with the minds of scholars from all over the world and available in four different languages, Healing Earth addresses 6 environmental challenges that the globe faces today and puts them in dialogue with an ethical, spiritual, and action-oriented lens that embraces Pope Francis’s call for an integral ecology.
Students confront the realities of biodiversity loss, water scarcity, and global climate change through interactive and engaging asynchronous workshops, then come together four times per semester to share thoughts, experiences and reflections about the material encountered during the workshop. These synchronous classes build friendships and an international community of youth uniting under a common denominator: protecting our beautiful planet.
At the end of the second semester, and in the final synchronous class, students present a project that integrates the lessons and perspectives drawn upon throughout the year. Students are free to choose a topic that intrigues them most deeply and are welcome to present it in their language of choice. We are looking forward to seeing the projects of Cohort 1, and hope to share the fruits of their work very soon!
The IAJU and the Magis Exchange Task Force would like to officially thank the School of Environmental Sustainability of Loyola University Chicago for sponsoring the Global Environmental Citizenship Course, and a special thanks to Dr. Michael Schuck and Rachel Elfant for designing, coordinating, and teaching the course.