Sustainability and Global Affairs

A primary root of the ecological crisis is an economic paradigm that focuses on short-term, inequitable profit over the well-being of ecosystems and their human residents. Connecting the global to the local, the CEE works to enhance sustainability commitments here at Union Theological Seminary, and to connect with the international movement for a new development agenda and a just transition. 

Our Sustainability and Global Affairs initiative takes a two-pronged approach that examines Union's impact on the earth — sustainability in practice — while also studying and weighing in on the UN Sustainable Development Goals and their implementation. The work of our Senior Fellow, Catherine Flowers, in addressing sanitation issues in Alabama's Black Belt, highlights the connections between a failed development paradigm and the degradation of our natural resources. 

CEE supports the Green Task Force at Union Theological Seminary, an effort launched out of CEE's Religions for the Earth conference in 2014 to develop strategies for integrating creation care into the culture and ethos of all aspects of theological education and community life. The task force focuses on five key areas: Education, Worship & Spirituality, Buildings & Grounds, Community Life, and Public Ministry.

In June of 2014, Union Theological Seminary became the world’s first seminary to divest entirely from fossil fuels, joining a growing movement that includes nearly 100 major religious institutions, universities, cities, counties, and other organizations that are committed to divesting from fossil fuel companies. Building on Union's example, CEE continues to advocate for divestment at other seminaries and religious institutions.

In September of 2015, CEE hosted a one-day climate justice training in Lowndes County, Ala. with the Climate Reality Project. Attended by about 100 people from across the state, this training incorporated CEE materials on "Connecting the Global to the Local," particularly on COP21 and the new UN development agenda. Aimed at rendering international procedures intelligible and accountable to local communities, CEE's curriculum continues to be developed from our past signature events.