Loyola University Chicago

International Jesuit Ecology Project


Project History

Project History

The creation of the Healing Earth environmental science e-textbook is rooted in two desires of people in Society of Jesus (Jesuit) networks: to address the major environmental concerns of our time through an educational resource and develop collaboration among teachers and learners in secondary school, university, and adult education contexts. Jesuit concern over care for the environment and the poor who suffer most from ecological degradation began in earnest during the Society's last two general congregations (1985, 2008). At the same time, interest was growing over ways to network the Society's worldwide educational resources. A first attempt at a collaborative research project between several Jesuit universities (the Democracy, Culture and Catholicism International Research Project) provided an initial model for how to orchestrate people from several Jesuit institutions around the world in a shared endeavor.

In 2011, the Society of Jesus issued a special report on ecology titled Healing A Broken World. In its final recommendation section, the report called for new teaching materials and curricula in environmental studies that would be drawn from both developed and developing countries and would encourage partnerships between educational institutions and groups at all levels. In response to this recommendation, Fr. Michael Garanzini, S.J., President of LUC and Director of the Jesuit Higher Education Secretariat in Rome, considered the idea of creating a free, online environmental science textbook that would include discussion of environmental ethics and spirituality.

At the request of Fr. Garanzini, Dr. Nancy Tuchman (LUC Institute of Environmental Sustainability) and Dr. Michael Schuck (LUC Department of Theology) drew up a proposal for the textbook that would be a resource for beginning college students, upper level secondary school students, and adult learners. By spring of 2012, the International Jesuit Ecology Project (IJEP) was born, with Dr. Tuchman and Dr. Schuck named as co-directors.

Drs. Tuchman and Schuck immediately assembled a small group of twelve LUC faculty members to think through the project idea and begin writing chapter drafts. Invitations to a fall semester IJEP workshop were sent to LUC and international scholars. This first workshop was convened at Loyola University’s Retreat and Ecology Campus (LUREC) on October 21, 2012 with 31 participants from around the world in attendance. These workshop participants chose chapter topics and divided into committees based on their specific fields of expertise. Chapter outlines were sketched out and plans for building a network of experts from Jesuit and non-Jesuit institutions around the world were laid. It was also here that the textbook title--Healing Earth--was agreed upon.

Eighteen months later, a second workshop was convened at LUREC to continue developing the chapters and the IJEP network. Between the two workshops, several webinars were held with chapter writers. Technical details such as designing and hosting the website, translating the content, and obtaining images became significant pieces of project development. In the process, over 90 people representing 41 institutions, 12 countries and 27 different academic disciplines were drawn in to various aspects of Healing Earth production. They helped write and edit text, manage photo and image libraries, design and produce Healing Earth on the web, build teacher materials, manage communications, and host presentations of Healing Earth.

At the same time as production moved forward, Dr. Tuchman, Dr. Schuck and other IJEP team members gave presentations about Healing Earth to US and international university and secondary school audiences in Sweden, Spain, Poland, Peru, Brazil, Indonesia, Philippines, and India. In this way, work on Healing Earth has remained committed to the recommendations of the 2011 Healing a Broken World report: to create new teaching materials and curricula in environmental studies that would be drawn from both developed and developing countries and would encourage partnerships between educational institutions and groups at all levels.

A third Healing Earth workshop of LUC contributors was held in January 2015 to solidify chapter content. In May 2015, a Teacher Workshop was held for a small group of university and secondary school teachers who will pilot the use of Healing Earth in their environmental science courses during the fall semester of 2015. Their recommendations will be incorporated into the 'final' version of Healing Earth before its public launch in January, 2016.

Since the public launch, teacher workshops there have been multiple teacher workshops held in a variety of countries, and Healing Earth presentations have been given globally. Recent data shows that Healing Earth is being used in classrooms by university professors at 11 universities in 5 countries (Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Philippines, United States), and at 11 secondary schools in 8 countries (India, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Puerto Rico, Spain, United States).

In September 2017, Healing Earth received the Expanded Reason Award in the Teaching Category. The award was organized by the University Francisco de Vitoria Madrid and the Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI Foundation to “support and acknowledge those professors and researchers who are working to broaden the horizons of rationality through a dialogue between the sciences and philosophy and theology, grounded in the certainty that the fundamental questions of human life cannot be ignored by scientific rationality”.

2018 began the work of re-editing, refreshing and completing all sections of  Healing Earth. In early 2019, this work was completed along with an improved Spanish translation and new Portuguese translation. A ‘2nd edition’ of Healing Earth was unveiled online on Earth Day (April 22) 2019.

Please explore Healing Earth https://healingearth.ijep.net/. We would love to hear from you!