Inside the Classroom: Earth Community, Earth Ethics

Written by Hannah Crivello
October 29, 2014

Students in the school?s Master of Arts in Transformational Leadership are committed to engaging some of the most critical issues of our time. One of today?s most pivotal issues is that of climate change. For this month?s Inside the Classroom look at STMM 5060 ?Earth Community, Earth Ethics,? we sat down with Dr. Cynthia Moe-Lobeda to learn more about this course and what students are engaging this Fall Quarter.

Dr. Moe-Lobeda shared with us:

?The course arises from a deep sense that humankind in our day faces an unprecedented moral challenge. Through climate change, human beings, or at least the high consuming human beings amongst us, are threatening Earth?s capacity to sustain life. The people suffering most from this are not the people who are most responsible for it. Climate change brings destruction and even death first and foremost to impoverished people around the world. The question we must ask, as transformational leaders, is: how in that context, do we create socially conscious, economically just, and ecologically resilient communities? How do we respond to the earth crisis with a sense of profound, unshakeable hope and moral power? We recognize that the earth crisis can so easily lead people into despair and powerlessness. The act of seeing clearly the crises induced by climate change and our responsibility for it--is an act of tremendous moral courage. How do we exercise that moral courage and moral vision in ways that that evoke hope and power to make a difference? Those are underlying questions of the class. Only in naming the reality of despair and powerlessness can we move in the other direction--to hope and power.?

One of the four required texts for the course is none other than Dr. Moe-Lobeda?s own work ?Resisting Structural Evil: Love as Ecological-Economic Vocation.? The text was reviewed and acclaimed by none other than Dr. Cornel West and has received a great deal of press. (See online here.) Students are able to dive deeper into Dr. Moe-Lobeda?s own research while engaging other media and written works on the topic. In addition to their own individual writing and discussion, students work in small groups to present on a topic at the end of the quarter.

Dr. Moe-Lobeda energetically spoke about the students that she has journeyed with so far this quarter.

?I think that the students? entering into the course this quarter have come with a wonderful spirit of honesty, and really, moral courage--to face this crisis and to look at how to live toward Earth community in the midst of it. Our classroom is made up of a diverse group of students from various spiritual traditions. They will be plumbing the depths of their spiritual traditions for the resources to be found there. I?m also asking students to do good self-care throughout the course since it can be quite traumatizing to look honestly at the Earth crisis. It?s a joy to see students? willingness to care for each other and be attentive to each other?s gifts and learning needs. I feel inspired by this group of students even though we?re only 5 weeks into the course.?

Some inspiring quotes are here below, from the top of the syllabus that Dr. Moe-Lobeda has provided students.

For more information on future course offerings, as a student, non-matriculated student (earning graduate credit) or auditing the class: contact Colette Casavant via casavant@seattleu.edu? |? (206) 296-5333

For more information on the Master of Arts in Transformational Leadership, visit here.

Human beings are a part of the whole we call the Universe, a small region in time and space. They regard themselves, their ideas, and their feelings as separate and apart from all the rest. It is something like an optical illusion in their consciousness. This illusion is a sort of prison; it restricts us to our personal aspirations and limits our affective life to a few people very close to us. Our task should be to free ourselves from this prison, opening up our circle of compassion in order to embrace all living creatures and all of nature in its beauty.
~ Albert Einstein ?

?We are six billion humans and we need to learn to live with one another and with all the other ten trillion species of life in a mutually enhancing way. We fail at the present time precisely because we fail to see and understand what it is that surrounds us....?
~ Brian Swimme ?

??If we do not change direction, we will end up where we are heading.?
~ Ancient Chinese Proverb