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Earth Ethics Fall 2003

This issue of Earth Ethics serves as the proceedings of an academic symposium entitled "Teaching for the Environment in Higher Education: The Promise of the Earth Charter." Summary by Richard Clugston and Peter Blaze Corcoran. From May 17-19, 2002, higher education stakeholders gathered at the Chewonki Foundation in Maine for the Thomas Berry award ceremony on Friday, May 17th, and the academic symposium. The promise of the Earth Charter provides an integrated ethical vision of sustainable development, building on a broad global consultation and assisting in the articulation of a new framework for economic and social policies and practices.

The Thomas Berry Award. The 2002 Thomas Berry award recipient and lecturer was Steven C. Rockefeller, a Professor Emeritus of Religion at Middlebury College, Vermont, and Earth Charter Commissioner.

Education, Ethics, and the Ecozoic Era, by Steven C. Rockefeller. Dr.Rockefeller accepts the 2002 Thomas Berry Award and delivers a lecture on how the Earth Charter principles relate to education and how they teach global ethics and a sustainable way of life in the ecozoic era.

Panel Remarks: The Earth Charter and Education, by Mirian Vilela. She shares examples of how the Earth Charter has been utilized as a meaningful tool in formal and non-formal education and in education for sustainable development. The University for Peace, Costa Rica, is using the Earth Charter as the basis for developing a foundation course for a Master's degree on education for peace.

Enculturing Earth, by Alison Hawthorne Deming. The author writes that art is one of our most effective mechanisms for connecting from one inner life to another. Through writing she brings the sacred into the real. She lists 12 things that artists and art educators can do in their work to further the goals of the Earth Charter.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and the Challenge of the Environment, by Collette Hopkins. Dr. Hopkins discusses the status of environmental studies generally in higher education and HBCUs treatment of the environment. Environmental studies have not yet generated the "burning interest in academia" comparable to concerns of standards and technology applications in professional studies. The population served by HBCUs is greatly the urban population of African Americans. African American children in urban areas suffer from asthmatic conditions from air pollution in cities. Older African Americans are affected by hypertension partially caused by living in stressful and physical conditions of inner cities. African Americans in rural areas are also degraded by the placement of landfills and nearby industrial estates. HBCUs share with other higher educational institutions the general indifference to environmental studies, partially due to their relative lack of resources to go beyond existing degree and certificate programs. Hopkins encourages HBCUs to be a part of the implementation of the Earth Charter's principles to show faculty and students the institution's commitment to the cause of environmental sustainability.

Political Economy and the Ecology of Childhood, by David W. Orr. Dr. Orr's essay is a meditation on the larger patterns of relations between the generations today and their effects on the developmental patterns of children. He argues that the normal difficulties of growing up are compounded by the reigning set of assumptions, philosophies, ideologies, and even mythologies by which our society organizes affairs and conducts the business of political economy. Orr separates the essay into three sections. The first section reviews evidence about the intersection of childhood and political economy from various perspectives. The second section is a more explicit rendering of the political economy of contemporary global capitalism. The third section on a child-centered world sketches some of the alternative political and economic arrangements necessary to honor our children and protect future generations.

The Emerging Alliance of World Religions and Ecology, by Mary Evelyn Tucker.
Prof. Tucker coins the term "religious ecology" and writes how the growing alliance of religion and ecology within the academic world and within religious communities is bringing together for the first time diverse perspectives from the world's religious traditions, regarding attitudes toward nature within reflections from science, policy and ethics. Religious groups have contributed to the drafting of the Earth Charter and many religious groups are helping to support the Charter in their communities. This essay on religious ecology invites further discussion, reflection and action.

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