On January 28 and 29, 2019 a seminar on Global Citizenship Education was held in Rome entitled “Educating bears good fruit: integral ecology in schools”, organized by the MAGIS Foundation in collaboration with the Jesuit Education Foundation and addressed to a group of 10 teachers of the Istituto Massimo College in Rome. Laudato Si’, Agenda 2030, sustainable development, integral ecology, educational challenges, missionary and international cooperation: these were the topics which teachers studied and reflected on.
What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up? This question not only concerns the environment in isolation; the issue cannot be approached piecemeal. When we ask ourselves what kind of world we want to leave behind, we think in the first place of its general direction, its meaning and its values. Unless we struggle with these deeper issues, I do not believe that our concern for ecology will produce significant results. But if those issues are courageously faced, we are led inexorably to ask other pointed questions: What is the purpose of our life in this world? Why are we here? What is the goal of our work and all our efforts? What need does the earth have of us? It is no longer enough, then, simply to state that we should be concerned for future generations. We need to see that what is at stake is our own dignity. Leaving an inhabitable planet to future generations is, first and foremost, up to us. The issue is one which dramatically affects us, for it has to do with the ultimate meaning of our earthly sojourn” (Laudato Si’ 160).
Starting from questions and reflections of this kind, the seminar is part of a pilot project of Global Citizenship Education and aims to promote an environmental and social policy within the school, based on the indications that emerged from the Action Statement issued by the International Congress of the Delegates of the Education of the Society of Jesus in Rio de Janeiro in October 2017 and in reference to the Guidelines in the Ignatian Curriculum aimed at integrating justice, faith and the care of the common home within the school curriculum.
For the school world it is a challenge and an opportunity of primary importance: to form an ecological citizenship to make today’s young people the first protagonists of an integral ecology, a look at the reality that knows how to consider all the factors, from respect for the environment to the love for the single man. The question is educational: a gesture of good behavior either towards nature or towards others is not enough; it is a question of challenging young people and adults to become aware that man and nature are valued only if the sense of mystery vibrates in the heart. This is the essential educational principle that everything is in relation because it is in relation to the other.
The urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change. (…..) Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home” (Laudato Si’ 13).
Gathering the solicitation outlined by Laudato Si ‘and recognizing, on the one hand, the need for involvement and the leadership of local communities in the construction of a just and respectful society of man and the environment, and, on the other hand, the importance of the involvement of the Italian population in the dynamics of development, the Jesuit Education Foundation together with the MAGIS Foundation has launched a three-year project of Global Citizenship Education and Intercultural Training so that a new generation of citizens formed with knowledge, skills, values and attitudes that favor a more sustainable and inclusive world.
Therefore education, through the promotion of sustainable development, peace and global citizenship, can truly generate that cultural revolution invoked by Laudato Si and bring about a change in human society.