November 3, 2021
Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,
As I said in my remarks at inauguration in September, the existential threat that is climate change is one of the three great challenges we face as a society. We can no longer responsibly talk about it as a looming threat—its impacts are evident all around us. As a Jesuit and Catholic university, we are committed to caring for the Earth, our common home, one of the universal apostolic preferences of the Society of Jesus. This commitment calls us to respond to the challenge in a special way.
One way we are doing this is by signing onto Pope Francis’ Seven-Year Journey Towards Integral Ecology. This commitment puts concrete action behind the goals outlined by the pope in his 2015 encyclical Laudato Sí: On Care for Our Common Home. As a university committed to advancing sustainability and environmental justice, the initiative goes to the heart of who we are and the impact we strive to make. Being one of the first institutions of higher education to take this step very much fits with our mission.
Over many years, Seattle University has distinguished itself as a leader in sustainability, including our recent #14 ranking in Sierra magazine’s list of Cool Schools. Under the outstanding direction of our Center for Environmental Justice and Sustainability and the President’s Committee for Sustainability, we continue to make strides in further lightening our impact on the planet while incorporating sustainability into our curriculum. For instance, this year we will achieve Scope 1 carbon neutrality, which applies to our direct emissions. And over the next two years, we will be reimagining our curriculum as part of the Reignite Strategic Directions process, with an eye towards making climate change and sustainability central features of the Seattle University educational experience.
To lead Seattle University’s participation in the Journey Towards Integral Ecology, I have appointed Dr. Jeanette Rodriguez as chair of our Laudato Sí Action Platform Steering Committee. A distinguished theologian and director of our Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture, Dr. Rodriguez brings to the role a unique perspective and wealth of scholarly activity and accomplishment. She has assembled a committee whose members are listed below.
The Laudato Sí Action Platform Steering Committee will bring together and meld in a mutually reinforcing way SU’s Jesuit and Catholic educational mission with our ongoing work as a leader in sustainability. Specifically, the committee will lead the efforts towards the following goals of Laudato Sí:
I look forward to the committee’s work and know that Dr. Rodriguez will be sharing updates on our progress.
Eduardo M. Peñalver