From Eco-Theology to Green Practice

Thursday, March 26th, 2020, 10:21 WIB

Wednesday Forum Report

Written By: Jekonia Tarigan

Ideally, knowledge influences practice.

On March 4, 2020, Dr. Suhadi presented his research presented his research entitled, “From Eco-Theology to Green Practice: Environmental Education in Indonesian Franciscan Schools.”  Dr. Suhadi’s research draws from interviews and focus group discussions with students, teachers, and religious leaders from two Catholic schools, SMA Fransiskus 2 in East Jakarta and SMA Marsudirini in Bekasi.  These schools are part of the Franciscan Order, founded by Saint Francis of Asisi in 21209.  The order is well-known for its concern for ecological issues.  In his research, Dr. Suhadi aimed to observe the correlation between the primary eco-theological concepts of the Franciscan Order and how these inform Franciscan institutions of education.

The question of this research is, “How is eco-theological knowledge transformed into practice through education in the modern era?” This question is motivated by concerns about the paradox and large gap between the presence of ecological religious values and the practice of these values. Dr. Suhadi shared the example of criticisms leveled cement factories which exploit nature, yet at the same time, in  this modern world, development is often measured by the construction of tall buildings that use a lot of cement.  In his research, Dr. Suhadi found that education can be a helpful bridge in connecting eco-theology with green practices.

The internalization of Franciscan eco-theology in the education curriculum and certain school activities has a positive effect in empowering students to implement eco-theological knowledge through green practices in their daily life. In SMA Fransiskus 2, they commemorate Earth Day by holding ecological worship. In SMA Marsudirini Bekasi, they have a special course, namely Kemarsudirinian, in which students are taught the main values of social life in schools and society, including love for nature. The integration between eco-theology and education results in green practices in the students’ lives. The students become accustomed to reducing their use of plastic, bring their own tumbler, and sparing electricity usage. Dr. Suhadi confirmed that these practices may only have small effects, but the most important thing is the learning process. 

In this research Dr. Suhadi also referred to Catholic Church document on the issue of ecology, Laudato Si. One of its fundamental principles and becomes an important concluding remark from Dr. Suhadi’s presentation is that the environmental crisis we are facing today is a result of a spiritual crisis. Inspired by Franciscan eco-theological concepts, it is important to have an interconnected relationship with nature by perceiving nature not as an object but as a subject in line with humanity, placing nature in our kinship system by referring to nature as our sibling or our mother, honored and loved by us. Educational institutions have an opportunity to bridge these religious values to green practices in our daily life.