The Critical Conversations in Catholic Education: Climate Change and Eco-Social Resilience Project is an initiative of the Regis St. Michael’s Faculty of Theology in the University of St. Michael’s College and is supported by a generous grant from the Association of Theological Schools. In collaboration with Catholic school boards in the Greater Toronto Area, the project explores the Catholic tradition, most notably Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’, recognizing it as an invaluable resource for fostering eco-social resilience, and, hence, hope and action towards sustainability and ecological justice.

Event Dates:

  • Hosted by Halton Catholic District School Board & Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board
  • Date: Event Passed
  • Location: St. Francis Xavier Secondary School, 1145 Bronte St. South, Milton
  • Speakers: Cynthia Cameron, Hilda Koster, Rosemary Boissonneau, Gabrielle Chan
  • Hosted by Durham Catholic District School Board
  • Date: Event Passed
  • Location: Pope Francis Centre, 652 Rossland Road West, Oshawa
  • Speakers: Adam Hincks, SJ, Jean-Pierre Fortin, Deanna Zantingh, Mary Anne Francalanza, fcJ

Conference: Youth Climate Anxiety and Religious Education

  • Hosted by Regis St. Michael’s Faculty of Theology, University of St. Michael’s College 
  • Date: Saturday, October 5, 2024 from 10:00am to 2:00pm
  • Location: TBD
  • Keynote Speaker: Joyce Mercer (Yale Divinity School) 

Background

Confronted with climate change related disasters, many young people have an acute sense of dread and fear when it comes to their future and the future of our common home. This anxiety in youth often manifests itself as indifference, grief, or depression. Educators therefore see the task of cultivating eco-social resilience as a first, but necessary, step when engaging students around issues of climate change, climate justice, and the work of imagining an alternative, more sustainable and, hence, hopeful future. Faith traditions play an important role in cultivating counter-narratives for human and more-than-human flourishing. They also offer contemplative practices for living meaningful and purposeful lives in a world faced with climate change related disaster and dread. Through its social teaching and spiritual traditions, exemplified by Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ and Catholic eco-theologians like Thomas Berry, Leonardo Boff,  Elizabeth Johnson and Ivone Gebara, the Catholic tradition in particular offers rich resources for reimagining our lives together on a fragile and endangered planet. 

The Project

Critical Conversations in Catholic Education on Climate Change and Eco-Social Resilience seeks to engage Catholic educators in the Greater Toronto Area on these important issues. It offers teachers and other school board staff a series of two workshops and a conference exploring Catholic eco-theology and spirituality as resources for engaging climate-related anxiety and cultivating eco-social resilience in youth. Held at two different GTA school boards, the workshops will occur in mid-February, and mid-April and will feature speakers from the Regis St. Michael’s faculty as well as students in our PhD and MRE (Master of Religious Education) programs. 

They will be in-person events with live-streaming for those attending virtually, and they will also be recorded and remain accessible as ongoing resources. In the first workshop, we will explore the scope of the problem, including questions about adolescents and vulnerability and the Catholic Social Teaching’s focus on climate justice (particularly in Pope Francis’ Laudato Si and Laudate Deum).  The second workshop will invite conversations the role of eco-science, climate suffering, and eco-theology. This conference, which will be open to the public, will feature keynote addresses by leading experts in the field and opportunities to explore ideas of eco-resilience in dialogue with Indigenous spiritualities and practices of synodality.  

Meet Our Team

Hilda P. Koster

Hilda P. Koster is the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto Associate Professor of Ecological Theology and the Director of the Elliott Allen Institute for Theology and Ecology at the Regis St. Michael’s Faculty of Theology in the University of St. Michael College. A native of the Netherlands, she holds a BA and M.Div. from the University of Groningen (The Netherlands) and a Th.M. from Princeton Theological Seminary (NJ/USA). Dr. Koster earned her doctorate from the Divinity School of the University of Chicago, where she studied with Catholic theologians Bernard McGinn, David Tracy, and Anne Carr. Prior to joining the Regis St Michael’s Faculty of Theology, Dr. Koster taught Christian Theology and Ecology at Concordia College (Moorhead, MN), where she also directed the interdisciplinary Environmental Studies Program. Dr. Koster’s publications on Ecological Theology and Environmental Ethics have appeared in Theology Today, Modern Theology, The Journal of Religion, The Anglican Theological Review, and Scriptura. Among her book-length coedited/authored publications are The Gift of Theology: The Contribution of Kathryn Tanner (Fortress Press, 2015); Planetary Solidarity: Global Women’s Voices on Christian Doctrine and Climate Justice (Fortress Press, 2017); T&T Clark Handbook of Christian Theology and Climate Change (Bloomsbury, 2019) and In Solidarity with the Earth: Multi-Disciplinary Theological Engagement with Gender, Mining, and Toxic Contamination (T&T Clark/Bloomsbury, 2023). Dr. Koster also is the co-editor of the T&T Clark book series Explorations in Theology, Gender, and Ecology (Bloomsbury).  

Cynthia L. Cameron

Cynthia L. Cameron is the Patrick and Barbara Keenan Chair of Religious Education and Assistant Professor of Religious Education at the Regis St. Michael’s Faculty of Theology at the University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto.  Prior to coming to Regis-St. Michael’s, she taught at the undergraduate and graduate levels in the United States and had a nearly twenty-year career as a teacher and administrator in Catholic high schools.  Dr. Cameron completed a BA at Denison University (Ohio), an MAR at Yale Divinity School, and an MA at Catholic University of America.  Her doctoral work, completed at Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry, focused on female adolescence and all-girls’ Catholic schooling.  She has recently published in Horizons, as well as in Liturgy+Power (Orbis, 2017) and The Human in a Dehumanizing World (Orbis, 2022).  Dr. Cameron is currently working on a co-edited book, Nobody’s Perfect: Adolescents, Mistake-Making, and Christian Religious Education (under contract with Fortress Press) and The Flourishing of Girls: A Theological Case for All-Girls’ Catholic Schools (in preparation for Catholic University of America Press). 

Rosemary Boissonneau

Rosemary Boissonneau is a PhD candidate at Regis St. Michael’s Faculty of Theology at the University of St. Michael’s College. She studies both ecotheology and scripture, and her dissertation project explores how the Hebrew Bible portrays fertile land as a maternal co-creator with God and a medium of God’s blessings. She completed a BA (University of Toronto) and a B Ed (University of Western Ontario) prior to her thirty-year career as a schoolteacher, which she spent mostly as an elementary French teacher for the York Catholic District School Board.    While still teaching, Rosemary completed her MTS with a Certificate of Specialization in Theology and Ecology at the University of St. Michael’s College. She frequently incorporated Catholic ecotheological thought into her teaching and her school’s environmental initiatives. Rosemary also holds a conjoint MA in Theological Studies from the University of Toronto and the University of St. Michael’s College. As a committed climate activist, Rosemary has collaborated with Friday’s For Future Toronto, For the Love of Creation and the Laudato Si’ Movement Canada. She has also led workshops on climate anxiety and resilience for fellow activists in Toronto.  


FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL MEDIA!


For Further Reading: Climate Anxiety, Youth, and Faith

Non-profit Canadian organization that promotes nature connected learning and outdoor education. It has an extensive list of teaching resources, including ready-to-go activities for all grade levels and areas of the curriculum.

This organization aims to accelerate climate change education in Canadian teacher education and offers webinars, lectures, courses and other programs.

Downloadable climate educators’ handbook that focuses on climate justice, well-being and resilience and uses trauma-informed pedagogy.

Downloadable educators’ guide to climate emotions.

Produced by the author of Generation Dread, this newsletter shares ideas for supporting emotional health and psychological resilience in the climate and wider ecological crisis.

A community of interdisciplinary researches focused on the mental health impacts of climate change offering an excellent list of resources related to climate emotions and resilience.

A community of interdisciplinary researches focused on the mental health impacts of climate change offering an excellent list of resources related to climate emotions and resilience.

US based non-profit organization that creates space to gather in community, process the painful feelings and realities of our times, and commit to meaningful actionthedivide.net/

Canadian based organization that foregrounds empathy and community knowledge to help youth build resilient, connected and engaged communities, and supports local, youth-led climate action.

The Canadian chapter of the Laudato Si’ Movement dedicated to turning Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ into action for climate justice locally and nationally.

An international coalition of Catholic member organizations motivated by Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ and working to inspire and mobilize Catholic communities to care for our common home and achieve ecological and climate justice in collaboration with all people of good will.

With a special focus on climate justice, this Canadian interfaith network harnesses the power of diverse faith and spiritual groups through education, capacity building and collective action to build more resilient, just and sustainable communities.

This SOS page provides video and audio resources to immediately help those experiencing climate and eco-related distress and anxiety in the moment.

The Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology has an extensive list of resources addressing eco-anxiety, especially from a faith-based perspective on its website. There is much to explore here!

Written by the editor of Drawdown, this book offers a radical approach to the climate crisis that “weaves justice, climate, biodiversity and human dignity into a seamless tapestry of action, policy and transformation that can end the climate crisis in one generation. It describes and defines the burgeoning regeneration movement spreading rapidly throughout the world.” (Like Drawdown, this book is complemented by its website, https://regeneration.org/ , which offers frequently updated information and resources as well as opportunities to participate in its interactive community. See, in particular its section entitled “Nexus,” an alphabetized explanatory list of climate solutions and challenges. https://regeneration.org/nexus

Mental health focused resources and lesson plans for secondary school classes from across the curriculum, including Catholic religious education classes. New mental health literacy teaching guides from Grades 1-12 with faith connection for Catholic Schools and correlations to the Catholic School Graduate Expectations. 

“R4R.ca provides immediate access to more than 1200 quality classroom resources. Developed by Learning for a Sustainable Future, R4R.ca connects teachers to lesson plans, books, videos and other materials that explore the environmental, social and economic dimensions of important issues and events unfolding in our world today. R4R resources have been reviewed by experienced classroom teachers and matched to relevant curriculum outcomes for each province and territory.” Climate change education is one of R4R’s main focal points, and it offers free webinars and workshops for educators’ professional development.

Learning for a Sustainable Future (LSF) is a Canadian charity that works to integrate sustainability education into Canada’s school system. Its resource bank helps teachers link student learning to sustainability with high quality classroom resources for all grades and subjects.

A Canadian documentary that sensitively and non-judgementally explores ecoanxiety among young people and how, for a growing number, concerns over the climate crisis are affecting their decision to have children. This is an insightful and informative documentary for teachers, and it is also suitable for upper grade high school students, especially in the context of learning about ethics and moral decision making.

CBC Radio 1 weekly radio show that explores questions, ideas and emotions about climate change while examining its challenges and potential solutions.