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THCT100 What Christians Believe

Teaching organisation

This unit involves 150 hours of focused learning, or the equivalent of 10 hours per week for 15 weeks. The total includes formally structured learning activities such as lectures, tutorials and online learning. The remaining hours typically involve reading, research, and the preparation of tasks for assessment.

Unit rationale, description and aim

Creation is God's first gift to us. Everything in the universe has been given life by God and is ordered toward flourishing. Indigenous cultures have long known and celebrated the great wonder of creation and its spiritual nature. Christianity has understood the wonder of creation in relation to God, who brings creation into being, maintains its existence, and gives it freedom and independence. Modern societies, however, are harming the beauty and intregrity of God's creation resulting in a global ecological crisis.

THCP206 considers the integral relationship between theology and ecology. It examines the story of the earth's emergent progress, the inter-relationship of all things, and the meaning of the human person within this broader context. It explores these processes in the context of belief in Jesus Christ as fully human and fully divine, and with particular reference to the Catholic-Christian tradition, especially Laudato Si' as a significant development in Catholic teaching about creation. The aim of the unit is to reflect on and develop specific theological insights and apply a critical understanding of the relevance of Christian belief and practice to better enhance our ways of relating to our common earth home, and the human communities who rely upon healthy ecological practices.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Describe contemporary ecological and theological insights for understanding and enhancing the human relationship to earth and creation (GA2, GA4) 

LO2 - Analyse official Catholic Church documents, especially the papal encyclical Laudato Si’ and contemporary theologies to understand Christian approaches to the created environment and ecological concerns (GA4, GA8) 

LO3 - Apply theological insights and principles to specific contexts and develop an understanding of a common, planetary life characterised by divine grace, ecological integrity and ecological conversion. (GA2, GA3, GA4)

Graduate attributes

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 


Topics will include: 

Overview of contemporary scientific positions regarding the emergence of the cosmos, the evolution of life and the role of human persons; 

The source of an ecological worldview, and the roots of current concerns with reference to the industrial age and ecological crisis;  

The enduring significance of land in Aboriginal spirituality; 

The place and responsibility of the human person within a theological and ecological context; 

The person of Jesus as the climax of creation as the basis for Catholic social teaching in relation to ecological justice; 

Catholic teaching regarding creation, integral ecology and ecological conversion, with reference to Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’


Ecological practice. 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit involves 150 hours of focused learning, or the equivalent of 10 hours per week for 15 weeks. The total includes formally structured learning activities such as lectures, tutorials and online learning. The remaining hours typically involve reading, research, and the preparation of tasks for assessment. 

The unit includes an opportunity to engage in a concrete ecological project suited to the situation and location in which the unit is offered.  

THCP223 emphasises students as active, adult learners. Students are recognised as adult learners who engage best when what they are learning is relevant to them and gives them the opportunity to be responsible for their own learning. In many ways, the student is the one who drives the learning forward, and your active participation in this unit is essential. Learning is designed to be an engaging and supportive experience, which helps students to develop critical thinking and reflection skills.  

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to pass this unit, you are required to attempt all assessment tasks and achieve an overall grade of Pass (50% or higher).  

The assessment tasks for this unit are designed for you to demonstrate your achievement of each 

learning outcome. 

Task 1 asks students to describe a theological insight and an ecological insight to demonstrate how these disciplines can work together to enhance understanding of creation and nature, in order for students to demonstrate achievement of learning outcome 1.  

Task 2 invites students to critically analyse contemporary ecological concerns with reference to official church documents and contemporary theologies. This task addresses learning outcome 2. 

Task 3 allows students to apply theological insights to a specific ecological problem or context, so to particularly show achievement of learning outcome 3. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Essay: Require students to identify and describe select ecological and theological insights for understanding the human relationship to creation and the natural environment. 



GA2, GA4 

Analytical task: Require students to demonstrate critical thinking by integrating ecological concerns with Catholic teaching and the Christian theological tradition. 



GA2, GA4, GA8 

Critical reflection and application task: Require students to apply key theological insights, learnings and wisdom to a specific ecological project. 


LO1, LO2, LO3 

GA2, GA3, GA4 

Representative texts and references

Dean-Drummond, Celia. A Primer in Ecotheology: Theology for a Fragile Earth. Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2018.  

Dempsey, C. and Pazdan, M. (eds.).  Earth, Wind and Fire: Biblical and Theological Perspectives on Creation.  Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2004. 

Edwards, Denis. Ecology at the Heart of Faith. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2006.  

Edwards Denis, ed. Earth Revealing, Earth Healing. Collegeville, MN: Michael Glazier, 2015. 

Francis. Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home. San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2005.  

Gottlieb, R, ed.  This Sacred Earth: Religion, Nature, Environment. New York: Routledge, 2004. 

Hessel D. and Reuther, R, eds.  Christianity and Ecology: Seeking the Well-Being of Earth and Humans. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2000. 

Johnson, Elizabeth, Ask the Beasts: Darwin and the God of Love. London: Bloomsbury, 2014. 

Kohak, Erazim. The Embers and the Stars: A Philosophical Inquiry Into Nature. Chicago, IL: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1984. 

McFague, Sally.  Models of God: Theology for an Ecological Age. London: SCM, 1987.  

Swimme, Brian, and Berry T. The Universe Story. San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1992. 

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