Caring for Our Common Home

Saint Joseph’s integrated approach to sustainability

Caring for Our Common Home

Saint Joseph’s integrated approach to sustainability

Joining other staff and students, President Dlugos (center) works the soil at the College’s farm for the Beth Auger Day of Service last year.

To this day, among the most obvious markers of the College’s commitment to environmental sustainability are the beautifully complicated, multi-phase recycling bins crafted on campus by our colleagues in the Facilities Department. But our collective engagement with “sustainability” has led us to recognize that it’s about much more than recycling.

Photo: Sarah Beard Buckley

In the fall of 2014, the College’s Board of Trustees approved our strategic plan, Sustaining the Promise: Toward Saint Joseph’s Second Hundred Years. Since that time, our pursuit of the plan’s goals, initiatives, and objectives has challenged us to continue to develop our understanding of “sustainability.”

We, of course, have not been the only ones thinking about this.

In Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home, Pope Francis wrote: “When we speak of the “environment,” what we really mean is the relationship existing between nature and the society which lives in it. Nature cannot be regarded as something separate from ourselves or as a mere setting in which we live…It is essential to seek comprehensive solutions which consider the interactions within natural systems themselves and with social systems… Strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.”

This particular understanding of sustainability in the context of an “integral ecology” gives us a new lens through which to consider our traditional commitment to stewardship.

And an “integrated approach” is exactly what is emerging at Saint Joseph’s where sustainability encompasses human and ecological health, social justice, secure livelihoods, and a better world for future generations. It is expressed as a deep and holistic respect for the earth through daily practices, decision-making, and stewardship in a healthy and equitable way so that communities now and in the future can thrive.

This issue of the magazine pays particular attention to the myriad ways that the College’s commitment to “sustainability” is finding expression today and some of the people leading our effort.