ACU officially begins seven-year journey towards integral ecology

Australian Catholic University (ACU) has officially enrolled in the seven-year journey to implement the seven goals of the Laudato Si’ Action Platform.

Inspired by the Pope Francis’s second encyclical, Laudato Si’: Care for our Common Home, universities around the world were invited to commit to a global implemental plan which began taking enrolments on November 14.

ACU announced its commitment to the Laudato Si’ Action Plan in October, to mark the Feast of St Francis Assisi, who is the inspiration behind Laudato Si’.

Universities that register to be on the action platform before April 22 (Earth Day) next year will be officially enrolled in the “journey towards sustainability in the spirit of integral ecology”.

Executive Dean for the Faculty of Theology and Philosophy Professor Dermot Nestor and Laudato Si’ Consultant at ACU Jacqui Rémond are among the university’s representatives on the Vatican’s University Working Group, established by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development to encourage the higher education sector to enter the platform.

As part of their work, Professor Nestor and Rémond co-designed a webinar series on Laudato Si’ for the Strategic Alliance of Catholic Research Universities (SACRU).

Professor Nestor said ACU was honoured to be the first university in Australia to take up the challenge since Pope Francis announced the platform in May this year. “ACU is now officially committed to Pope Francis’s call for all areas of the Church, including universities, to go on a journey towards integral ecology,” he said. “We are proud to lead the Australian higher education sector in taking proactive measures over the next seven years to reduce our ecological impact and heal the earth, as the Pope has called all of us to do.” 

To support universities who are interested in registering for the platform, the Vatican launched University Pathways, an online guide for colleges and universities which are considering taking up the global initiative.

Ahead of the official enrolment in the global platform, ACU celebrated its commitment towards sustainability at an online event hosted by SACRU. That event brought together 26 doctoral students from eight Catholic universities around the world to present their research on sustainability.

ACU doctoral student Judith Pridmore presented her research on the “relational space” between a primary school leader and that school’s leadership team, to illustrate how sustainability could be understood in an education setting. Judith said there was no empirical evidence that addressed the connectedness between educational leaders, and how this translates to better outcomes in a school environment.

Through studying the relationship between a primary school leader and that school’s leadership team, Judith identified “nine themes that they were constantly building and creating together as they undertook their leadership activity”.

“When we think of education, we instantly thinking of teaching and learning, and that’s vital, that is our role, but sometimes we forget that the quality needs to sustain mutual human flourishing, investing in the people because they’re people,” she said. “This is the beauty of Laudato Si’ – it enables us to see that it’s not just about the physical world, but it’s about the connectedness of people and the world together. 

“We have a responsibility for it and with one another.”

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