Parishes | Schools | Priests | Masses |
More in this section MAIN MENU

Developing leaders to save the Earth

English Spanish
Environmental concerns and BP are almost synonymous today. Long before the tragic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico occurred, however, people were beginning to realize that the environment was becoming a prominent feature of global consciousness and development.

Many private and public businesses and government institutions have already made the effort to reduce their carbon footprint. Families pitch in, in their own ways, to preserve the beauty of God’s creation. Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has said regarding the environment, “The environment is God’s gift to everyone, and in our use of it we have a responsibility towards the poor, towards future generations and towards humanity as a whole.”

As educators, parents and responsible citizens of the world, we are required to care for our planet. Thinking locally, we can start by instilling an environmental concern in our youngsters’ minds, encouraging them to get a science degree or, as adults, attending high-level informational events where we can examine current issues with detail. Communities and non-governmental organizations may come up with ecological programs but little will be accomplished if the public sector neither creates the right legislation nor executes the necessary action steps to propel the plan.

St. Thomas University recently created an LL.M. program in Environmental Sustainability. The degree in the law school is a result of the collaboration between Barry University and St. Thomas University’s law schools as well as funding by the Adrian Dominican Sisters to establish a Center for Earth Jurisprudence.

This new degree will be not only for lawyers but for all professionals who will be dealing with the increasingly complex matters affecting the environment. Every corporation, every non-profit, every university and every business at this point is subject to some type of environmental law and will need people trained to ferret out the different issues and keep track of increasing regulations.

This July, Barry University and St. Thomas University’s law schools hosted a conference on ecological integrity, which covered topics such as reconnecting humans, providing health care for the poor and coming up with solutions to the habitat. World-renowned environmentalist and Right Livelihood Award (the “alternative to the Nobel Prize”) winner Dr. Vandana Shiva discussed ecological integration and the urgency of protecting the earth’s biological diversity in the context of small-scale organic agriculture. Dr. Mira Shiva, director of The Initiative for Health Equity and Society, explored links between ecological integrity and public health issues affecting vulnerable populations. Other experts included Leonie Hermantin, deputy director of the Lambi Fund, who discussed Haiti’s rebuilding plans.

St. Thomas University also made the decision some years ago to create an outstanding science program. The program is housed in the state-of-the-art Carnival Cruise Line Science and Technology building. Our highly qualified faculty are conducting extensive research, funded by government grants, with all our undergraduate students who major in science.

The United States will be facing a shortage of scientists in the near future. On the positive side, we will protect the planet through innovations made by America’s future scientists, as today’s students carry out scientific research in aquatic habitat facilities, study plant growth environments, specialize in other science fields or study environmental law. As an academic institution we desire to do our part to train and inform our students to become leaders in maintaining the Earth and providing for the healthy development of God’s people.

Comments from readers

Nelson Araque - 08/18/2010 03:06 PM
Achievements, such as the outstanding Science program at STU, and the recently created LL.M. program in Environmental Sustainability in colaboration with Barry University's Law school are truly a response to what the Pope Benedict XVI in, recalling the Catholic Social Teaching, has said regarding the environment. The environment is God's gift to everyone, and in our use of it we have a responsibility towards the poor, towards future generations and towards humanity as a whole.
However, is it enough? Could the effort of developing leaders to save the Earth be expanded to other schools at STU? I am suggesting a project from the School of Theology and Ministry in which the Catholic Social Teaching on the environment be taught and reflected to help in the development of a moral conscience towards our responsibility to the environment.
This project will follow the successful path set for the Science program and the Law School. Also, this project could involve other schools at STU, or other universities, such as FIU's organic garden. As an IPM graduate (2007) and someone concerned for the environment, I offer myself to be part of this initiative.
Lizette M. Lantigua - 08/17/2010 08:41 AM
Congratulations to my alma mater in these initiatives to keep God's world beautiful! As a Catholic institution we should address to our youth in this program that saving our planet doesn't just mean going green and being all trendy. It means that if we take responsibility to save oceans, whales, pandas and trees, above all we have to be concern in respecting human life from the moment of conception. While this is obvious to many of us Catholic adults it is not as obvious to college students for what I have been able to see as I have started this conversation with many. I don't think this information has been made clear enough and Catholic universities are the only ones that have the duty to do so in these type of programs. All my best
Neida D. Perez - 08/17/2010 06:50 AM
The life and dignity of the human person does not end once the creature is out of the womb. The culture of death is attacking in a number of fronts. It is true that we cannot be part of every ministry but we need a wider vision of the culture of life which is very well explained in the Catechism and in other documents of the Church.
Evalina Van Lengen - 08/16/2010 06:13 PM
With all due respect Monsignor, why are trying to save the earh when 1.5 million babies are being aborted in this country annually. Who are we saving the earth for?
Responsible Christians know about Creation and how we should keep our environment clean. We do not need overly zealous movements.
Richard DeMaria - 08/16/2010 02:56 PM
Msgr. Casale: the STU law school continues to create a niche for itself with programs that combine knowledge of law with social justice concerns. Congratulations to all who made this new program happen.
Neida D. Perez - 08/16/2010 02:52 PM
I welcomed the book Ten Commandments for the Environment, Pope Benedict XVI Speaks Out for Creation and Justice by Woodeene Koenig-Bricker. The Church is really at the front of the ecological movement under the present Pope. It is that other part of the Church that needs I don't know what kind of force to get moving. There are many reasons or excuses for the passivity. The King invites to the banquet but everybody has a different excuse. At this point I am trying to discern who are the poor along the road that should be invited to the banquet.

Let's Talk Blog

Meet the Bloggers