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Loyola furthers commitment to sustainability by joining first cohort of Vatican Dicastery’s Laudato Si' Universities

| By Jessica Goldstein
A couple of students walking across the sunlit quad at golden hour

This fall Loyola University Maryland has joined the first international cohort of 68 universities enrolled as Laudato Si' Universities by the Vatican Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development. By participating, Loyola will assume a greater leadership role in committing to Pope Francis 7-Year Journey Towards Integral Ecology—an action-oriented and holistic approach in addressing seven ecological and social challenges in the world.

The 7-Year Journey Towards Integral Ecology was launched as part of a series of celebrations on the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ landmark encyclical letter Laudato Si': On Care for Our Common Home.

“Loyola University Maryland’s commitment as one of the first Laudato Si' universities is a testament to our dedication to further enriching and advancing our sustainability initiatives,” said Amanda M. Thomas, Ph.D., interim president. “I’m proud that Loyola is taking this next step in advancing our ecological and social actions while supporting Pope Francis’ goals in caring for our common home.”

As a Laudato Si' University, Loyola will develop a Laudato Si' Action Plan with the input from the University community that will work to advance each of the seven Laudato Si' goals: 

  • Respond to the cry of the Earth, a call to equitably address climate change, biodiversity loss, and ecological sustainability;
  • Respond to the cry of the poor, a call for global solidarity with special attention given to vulnerable groups, such as indigenous communities, refugees, migrants, and children;
  • Foster ecological economics, acknowledging the economy is a sub-system of human society embedded within the biosphere;
  • Adopt a sustainable lifestyle, with the idea of sufficiency—living with just enough and not excess—to ensure a good life for all;
  • Offer ecological education, through curricular and institutional reform in the spirit of integral ecology to foster ecological awareness and action;
  • Develop ecological spirituality through greater contact and connections with the natural world in the spirit of wonder, praise, joy, happiness, and gratitude; and
  • Support local communities, with community engagement and participatory action to care for creation.

The seven Laudato Si' goals are mapped to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, reinforcing the shared and intentional connection with the global development agenda.

“Loyola University Maryland’s leadership in the Laudato Si' University program provides a wonderful opportunity for our community to embrace the magis—the more—and live out our Jesuit mission by working to protect the Earth,” said Terrence M. Sawyer, J.D., Loyola’s senior vice president and incoming president. “Loyola looks forward to growing our ecological efforts through this journey, along with a global partnership of universities.”

The University will annually report its progress to the Dicastery and communicate with other universities around the world on the Journey.

“We are honored to be part of the first cohort of universities committed to walking the sustainability journey together as we enrich each other’s experiences and enlarge our impacts through international collaborations,” said Patricia Kanashiro, Ph.D., associate professor in the Sellinger School of Business and Management, who served as a member of the working group of 100 university professionals from 30 countries under the Vatican Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development.

Loyola’s leadership as a Laudato Si' University builds on its commitment to environmental sustainability—one of the University’s top priorities, as determined during a recent Mission Priority Examen and inspired by the Laudato Si.'

Loyola strives to leave the world a better place for future generations by offering the first BBA in Sustainability Management in Maryland; following an all-encompassing Climate Action Plan and Energy Management Policy; maintaining and growing an accredited arboretum; building the new green Miguel B. Fernandez Family Center for Innovation and Collaborative Learning; sponsoring a local, community-focused farmers’ market to serve Loyola’s neighbors, and numerous other initiatives for sustainability education and action. Tracy Harvey, Ph.D., has also recently joined the University as the new program director of sustainability.

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