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Schoolchildren in Cambodia. Photo: Chanthea Nou/Caritas Australia

Care for our Common Home

Secondary

How can I live Laudato Si’ and take care of our common home?

Teacher introduction

By the end of this unit, students will: appreciate creation as a gift from God and that we are all responsible for caring for creation; gain and understanding of integral ecology, recognising that people and the environment are interconnected and interdependent; understand the moral imperative to take care of our common home; and have the opportunity to take action.

Teachers, before you start:

  1. Watch the CST film for your own background and familiarise yourself with the pause points and other stopping points listed in this lesson suggestion.
  2. Download the various resources referenced (worksheets, slides, etc. see bottom of the page) and have them ready to go on your computer/interactive whiteboard.
  3. Locate any Scriptures and copies of Church texts (all hyperlinked within the Learning Experience below).
  4. Familiarise and decide on the use of online or app technologies.
  5. Background reading: Integral ecology in the spirituality of Catholic Social Teaching by Dr Sandie Cornish

See

Teacher Background: This series of activities is inspired by Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’, particularly the Integral Ecology framework which will require students to unpack how to holistically and authentically care for our common home. 

Integral Ecology Focus

  • Our desire and responsibility to care for our common home.
  • Admiring the beauty of creation and praising God the creator. 
  • The relationship between working for the common good of our global family, and caring for our common home, is inseparable. 

Success Criteria

Provide your students with a copy of the Success Criteria in either online or paper form. This success criteria will assist students in identifying their own level of understanding on the Catholic Social Teaching principle - Care for Our Common Home - before, during and after the unit of work, as well as help to inform your own teaching practices. Prior to teaching the unit, ask students identify where they sit on the scale of understanding, marking it on the table. Repeat this process half way during the lessons, and at the end.

 

WATCH

Watch the first section of Caritas Australia’s ‘Care for our Common Home’ film and stop after first pause point.

Pause Point 1 Questions: 

Can you remember a time when someone trusted you with a gift or something important? 

How did you treat your gift and how did you deal with this special responsibility?  

Give students time to reflect and discuss. 

 

READ - SCRIPTURE

All Years

Read Genesis 1-2 worksheet together. 

You might also choose to watch the video of the Apollo 8 astronauts reading this passage as they orbit around the moon on Christmas 1968.

Explain that no matter how we interpret how the world was created, we believe that it is God’s creation and therefore sacred. We have a responsibly to care for God’s creation but the things of creation also care for us and sustain us. The relationship between God, human beings and the whole of creation is indivisible. 

Years 7-8: Students locate a scripture passage that helps us understand the way in which we should treat creation. Students can transform their passage into a comic strip. These can be shared with the class through an online classroom platform or can be hung around the room.

Years 9-10: Students locate a scripture passage that helps us understand the way in which we should treat the environment. Students complete the ‘Senses of Scripture’ worksheet where they will be required to unpack the elements of the passage and draw links to our relationship to God and creation. 

ENCYCLICALS

All Years

  1. Test student’s prior knowledge by asking the following questions:

    Why do YOU think it is important that we care for our common home?
    What is an encyclical? 
    Have you heard of Laudato Si’ and if so what do you know about it?

  2. Explain the purpose of an encyclical, particularly as a means to help explain how to best apply teachings of sacred scripture and Catholic tradition to address particular issues present in society.
  3. Watch the Laudato Si’ Animation which unpacks Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’.
  4. Think-pair-share: With a partner, students write down the key themes/messages of Laudato Si’?
  5. Students complete the Laudato Si’ Excerpt Activity worksheet where they will re-write an excerpt from Laudato Si’ in youth-friendly language. If time permits, students could produce a video that encompasses the key messages of the excerpt. 

Laudato Si’ Excerpt Activity – Lower Secondary

Laudato Si’ Excerpt Activity – Upper Secondary

ENGAGING THE SENSES – OUR OWN CONNECTION WITH THE BEAUTY OF CREATION 

All Years

If possible, take students to a quiet area outside. Have them sit quietly to take in the beauty of nature. 

After a few minutes, ask them to close their eyes and read out the Integral Ecology Reflection. Pause for a few moments between each sentence to provide students with the opportunity for meaningful reflection. 

Years 7-8

Create a poem around the beauty of creation using sensory elements and drawing from the ideas found within the reflection piece. Encourage students to use descriptive terms they came up with when engaging their senses in nature.

Years 9-10

Read out the following quote or project it onto a classroom screen:

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” – St Mother Teresa

Play some reflective music and ask students to think about what the quote means to them in relation to the way in which we treat creation. Engage in a classroom discussion, calling for students to share their thoughts and ideas around the quote. This activity is designed to engage student thinking around their own individual connection with creation igniting a sense of wonder and awe, as well as a realisation of their own part to play in caring for our common home. 

Additional resource to prompt thinking

Watch these short clips by Conservation International that look at the beauty and issues facing the environment today.

https://www.conservation.org/nature-is-speaking 
Extension Activity – Students rewrite the voiceover to reflect a Catholic perspective.  

 

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS 

Introduce students to the Sustainable Development Goals, also known as The Global Goals. An introductory presentation can be found here. 

As a class, visit the The Global Goals website and view the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Have students identify which of the goals relate to the Catholic Social Teaching principle of Care for Our Common Home.

 

Years 7-8

In groups, allocate one Sustainable Development Goal linked to the Catholic Social Teaching principle of Care for Our Common Home. 

Ask students to create a digital presentation that includes the following information:

  1. Name and explanation of the goal.
  2. Statistics that demonstrate the importance of the goal.
  3. How the goal connects with Care for Our Common Home and integral ecology. (How will achieving the goal help both people and the planet?)
  4. Actions being taken/will be taken to achieve the goal (What will be done? Who will do it? When will it be done by?)

Years 9-10
For each of the goals they identified, ask students to engage in a 3-2-1 strategy, that is, they will need to write down 3 interesting findings, 2 questions they have and 1 action taken towards that goal being achieved.

Once this is done, ask students to draw links to the Integral Ecology Framework. You may wish to provide each student with a copy of the framework and ask them to annotate the worksheet with the connections they make. For example, do any of the initiatives being implemented to achieve the goals, target both people and the planet? Is it focused on ‘Intergenerational Solidarity’ through targeting youth engagement? etc.

 

All Years

Conclude the lesson with a reflection on the SDGs. Play quiet music while displaying the SDG Manifesto Reflection.  

 

WE ARE ALL CONNECTED 

Highlighting the interdependence of the whole earth community, not just humans, but all of God’s creation.

Years 7-8 (can also be played by Years 9-10 students as an icebreaker activity)

As a class, play the ‘We’re all connected!’ game. You will need a roll of string and enough clear space for everyone to be standing round in a circle.

Step 1: Give one person the end of the string. Another person rolls out the string until they are standing opposite the first person. They hold the string with their finger and hand the roll to the next person, who rolls it out to another edge of the circle. This continues until there is a criss-cross star network effect (see picture below).

Step 2: Once the network is complete, the game can begin! You might ask students to first start by saying their names, or saying what they had for breakfast that morning. One person starts by answering and then ‘plays’ their string. The person they are connected to answers the question next and plays their string; and so on until everyone has answered the question. After the first easy question, which familiarises students with how the game works, you can move onto the following:

  • What is the possession you care about the most?
  • Name one thing you do every day to care for our common home (putting rubbish in recycling bins, picking up rubbish that has been thrown on the floor, turning off the lights when not in use, etc.)

Encourage students to think ‘outside the box’ – caring for our common home isn’t just about being ‘green’, but also about being ethical consumers (knowing where what we buy is sustainably sourced, ethically and fairly produced and traded) and aware of how our connections to the land also extend to our connections with people (e.g. Nude Food, not buying bottled water, etc.). 

Extension activity: Present the ‘Love Thy Neighbour As Thy Phone’ presentation to students. The presentation requires students to reflect on how much they rely on and care for their smartphones, and asks them to consider what life would be like if they cared for others and creation as much as they did their phones.

Secondary Stewardship

A TRIP AROUND THE WORLD 

Years 9-10

This activity will take students on a tour around the world to hear the stories of individuals who are working towards a sustainable future. Provide students with an online or hard-copy version of the world map template and the link to the Care for Our Common Home Tour.

For each of the stops on the tour, students mark out the location on their world template and watch/read accompanying resources. On the map, they are to identify which Sustainable Development Goal is being addressed and write down the ways in which those individuals are caring for our common home. 

Conclude with the following discussion questions as a class:

  1. What were some of the ways in which these individuals were caring for our common home?
  2. What were some similarities and differences between each of the stories?
  3. In what ways were their own lives and communities enriched through caring for their common home?

DEBATE 

Students engage in a virtual class debate where they are encouraged to research and critically analyse a statement surrounding how we care for our common home. Use the following website www.kialo.com as a way for students to share their arguments for and against the statement. You may wish to begin the activity with establishing guidelines around acceptable and respectful comments. 

Possible debate topics:

  • Individuals can prevent further climate change.
  • Climate change is more of an issue for some than others.
  • Humanity cannot thrive unless all creation thrives.
  • Humans have dominion over all other creatures.
  • We need kinship, not stewardship.

 

 

Secondary Stewardship

Judge

Integral Ecology Link

  • The conscious decisions we make in our lives each day, have the ability to break the chain of destruction as we towards a sustainable future.
  • The ways in which we treat others and all aspects of creation, should reflect our relationship with God the creator.


WATCH

All Years 

Continue watching Caritas Australia’s ‘Care for our Common Home’ film and stop after second and third pause points.

 

REFLECT

All Years

Give students time to reflect and respond to the questions in the film. 

Pause Point 2 Question: 

What is our responsibility to the most vulnerable communities and why is it so?

Pause Point 3 Question: 

How does caring for our common home align with your values or faith?

Class discussion - Who is most impacted by a changing climate and why? Is this fair? How does this relate to the Catholic faith? What is our responsibility?

 

TO TILL AND TO KEEP

All years

Refer students to the scripture passage that appears within the film, Genesis 2:15. Ask students what it means to till and to keep the earth? Students find the definition of ‘Till’ and ‘Keep’ and discuss the differences as a class.

An example of what it means to keep the earth is when we look at the example set by First Australians. This is highlighted by Pope Francis in his encyclical Laudato Si’ where he writes: 

“In this sense, it is essential to show special care for indigenous communities and their cultural traditions. They are not merely one minority among others, but should be the principal dialogue partners, especially when large projects affecting their land are proposed. For them, land is not a commodity but rather a gift from God and from their ancestors who rest there, a sacred space with which they need to interact if they are to maintain their identity and values. When they remain on their land, they themselves care for it best. Nevertheless, in various parts of the world, pressure is being put on them to abandon their homelands to make room for agricultural or mining projects which are undertaken without regard for the degradation of nature and culture.” (Laudato Si’, #146)

Explain to students how the land provides First Australians’ with a sense of identity and link to their spiritual ancestors, as well as where one spirit returns once they have passed. Dreaming stories help to explain earth’s creation and therefore the importance of keeping and preserving the earth for future generations. This connection is often expressed and shared through art and in the ways the land is cared for and protected.  

(You may wish to explain the ‘metatemporal’ concept to secondary students)

 

Years 7-8

Students watch dust echoes clips:

https://education.abc.net.au/home#!/digibook/2570774/dust-echoes

Students research Indigenous artwork that reflects the love and connection with the land. Students create their own artwork inspired by their findings that depicts the change in the Australian landscape and biodiversity from when it was cared for by First Australians compared to how it is now. 

 

Years 9-10 

Spiritual Connection to the Land

Students listen to Sherry Balcombe’s personal reflection on the spiritual relationship with country.  

Sherry Balcombe is the Coordinator, Aboriginal Catholic Ministry Victoria (ACMV). She is a proud Western Yalanji, Djabaguy / Okola woman from Far North Queensland, born on Wurrundjeri Country. Sherry has been working with Aboriginal Catholic Ministry Victoria for more than 12 years. 

A copy of the transcript can be viewed here.

Reflection Questions – These can be completed via class discussion or individually by students. 

  1. According to Sherry Balcombe, what does the land provide for Indigenous Australians?
  2. Explain why is it important to Aboriginal Spirituality protect and care for the land?

Indigenous Sustainability Practices

The Australian bushfires in the early months of 2020 saw many questions surrounding the policies, if any, that had been put in place to minimise or avoid the recurrence of bushfires. Amongst those questions were those that highlighted the significance of Indigenous sustainability practices and processes that can effectively be implemented to tackle current, and to avoid future bushfires and other environmental issues. Watch the following ABC Songlines Video with students and have them take notes on what we can learn from the ways in which Indigenous Australians have cared for our land. 

ABC Songlines video (28 min): What can we learn from indigenous Australians and their 60,000 years caring for country?

LIFE CYCLE THINKING

 

All Years

 

Pope Francis, in his encyclical, Laudato Si’, speaks of adopting a circular model of production. 

 

“…our industrial system, at the end of its cycle of production and consumption, has not developed the capacity to absorb and reuse waste and by-products. We have not yet managed to adopt a circular model of production capable of preserving resources for present and future generations, while limiting as much as possible the use of non-renewable resources, moderating their consumption, maximizing their efficient use, reusing and recycling them.”
(Laudato Si’, #22) 

Explore what a circular economy is with this short 4 min animation: Re-thinking progress: The circular economy 

Remind students that caring for our common home does not only mean picking up rubbish, walking rather than driving and reducing the consumption of non-renewable materials. It also means we consider the decisions we make each and every day, and that includes the items that we purchase and the objects we choose to use in our daily lives. 

Students research the life cycle of one of their own belongings (clothing, handbag, soccer ball, smartphone etc).

Students research materials needed (renewable and non-renewable resources), manufacturing, labour (who makes the product and do they receive a fair wage and have safe working conditions?), transportation, if there environmentally friendly disposal/recycling methods available etc.

Some resources to get you started. 

What’s a smartphone made of? 

The life cycle of the t-shirt

The life cycle of a plastic bottle

http://www.madehow.com/ - A useful website that students can use to choose a product that interests them. 

Years 7-8

Students create an infographic that displays the life cycle of the product. These can be placed around the room or shared on a virtual classroom. 

Years 9-10

Create two different social media posts about the brand you have conducted your research on. Raise awareness to other consumers on either the unsustainable manufacturing practices they have utilised in the production of the item, or congratulating them on their environmentally sustainable methods. 

 

REAL-WORLD ISSUES

Years 7-8

If possible, provide students with the map of the school. Have them identify and annotate areas where environmental issues are present. Examples could include common places for rubbish, around the canteen, inefficient use of the bubblers and other electrical items around the school (lights and air-conditioning), over-use of plastic in lunch boxes etc. 

Discussion – how does taking care of the school environment impact the school community?

 

Years 9-10

Using the Guided Research Worksheet, students work in groups to research the impact of real-world issues on our common home. Chosen research issues should fall within one of the focus areas that are highlighted within Laudato Si’:

  • Pollution and climate change
  • The issue of water
  • Loss of biodiversity
  • Decline in the quality of human life and the breakdown of society

Note: This activity focuses on the ‘see’ and ‘judge’. The next section will enable students to use this learning and develop an action. 

 

REFLECT 

All Years

After reflecting on what you have learnt so far, revisit your answers to the third pause point question from the Care for Our Common Home video. Is your answer different now?

  • How does caring for our common home align with your values or faith?

DEBATE 

All Years

Students engage in a virtual class debate where they are encouraged to research and critically analyse a statement surrounding how we care for our common home. Use the following website www.kialo.com as a way for students to share their arguments for and against the statement. You may wish to begin the activity with establishing guidelines around acceptable and respectful comments.

Possible debate statements: 

  • Students should not miss school to attend climate strikes.
  • For Catholics, climate change is a moral issue that must be addressed.

Act

Integral Ecology Link

  • Consciously considering Intergenerational solidarity should be at the heart of all our decisions. Our environment must be preserved for future generations.

a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor."(Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, #49)

WATCH

Watch the remainder of ‘Caritas Australia’s ‘Care for our Common Home’ film.

Students will take part in a task that requires them to apply their knowledge to address a real-life issue. You may want to play the following clips as inspiration for students before they begin the next activity. 

TedX Talks: Vish Dhar – Young people are the solution to climate change -  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvitLULPAqc

Beyond Greta Thunberg – The uprising of youth climate activists -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KoC_1rOAFX0

 

LAUDATO-SI’ IN ACTION

All Years - Circles of Control, Influence and Concern

Show students the Circles of Control, Influence and Concern diagram. Explain to them that often we are urged and inspired to change the things that are located in the concern circle of the diagram, but if we solely focus on changing those things, we can become un-productive, as they are things that we have no control over. Therefore, if we want to be productive in caring for our common home, we should focus on the things that we have influence and control over in order to really make an impact on our areas of concern. 

Students draw their own Circles of Concern, Influence and Control diagram. Ask them to identify their major concerns relating to caring for our common home, the things in which they have influence over, and the things that are in their control. 

Years 7-8

Using the issues they identified in the previous map activity, students create a video campaign of the ways in which the students within the school can care for their common home (the school). Within the video, students can show common problem areas and demonstrate/suggest ways in which these can be addressed. Students can also interview other peers or teachers as part of their campaign. Encourage them to include their own research, this can be in the form of student-conducted surveys or observations. 

These can be presented as a classroom screening. 

Years 9-10

Using their selected issue from the activity above, or another one of interest, students create an exhibition for an initiative that could be implemented within the school or a local community action. The exhibition can include posters, brochures, object prototypes etc. 

Students are provided with a guided worksheet Laudato Si’ in Action to assist them with their planning.

These could be presented as an exhibition in the school playground with students or members of the college leadership team choosing the initiative that they feel would work best in their school/local community. 

 

MAKE A PLEDGE

Ask students to make a pledge in response to the final question within the Care for Our Common Home video: How will you live Laudato Si’?

Prompt student thinking by asking them how they will change their thoughts, actions and decisions in their personal lives, at school and within their local communities. 

Pray

Within their groups, students could write their own prayer of intersession that reflects their hopes and wishes in caring for our common home as inspired by the tasks they completed within the unit.

Conclude by jointly praying the Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon of St Francis of Assisi, followed by prayers of intersession written by students. 

Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon of St Francis of Assisi

Most High, all-powerful, all-good Lord, All praise is Yours, all glory, all honour and all blessings.

To you alone, Most High, do they belong, and no mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your Name.

Praised be You my Lord with all Your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
Who is the day through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour,
Of You Most High, he bears the likeness.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
In the heavens you have made them bright, precious and fair.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
And fair and stormy, all weather’s moods,
by which You cherish all that You have made.

Praised be You my Lord through Sister Water,
So useful, humble, precious and pure.

Praised be You my Lord through Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.

Praised be You my Lord through our Sister,
Mother Earth
who sustains and governs us,
producing varied fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.
Praise be You my Lord through those who grant pardon for love of You and bear sickness and trial.

Blessed are those who endure in peace, By You Most High, they will be crowned.

Praised be You, my Lord through Sister Death,
from whom no-one living can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin! Blessed are they She finds doing Your Will.

No second death can do them harm. Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks,
And serve Him with great humility.

St Francis of Assisi, pray for us.