Working group on Environmental Education 7-9 October, 2018, Katowice

7-9 October, 2018, Katowice


In Environmental Education working group we gathered together from different countries to discuss some of the most important questions for our current educational work. We shared our questions, aspects and narratives concerning environmental education coming from very diverse cultural, traditional, contextual and denominational backgrounds.

The text below is a rough summary of our discussion. We hope that it may be helpful for other people and communities in churches to start discussions about environmental education.


  1. What can be helpful in convincing us to change our habits? How to help others to change environmental habits?
    1. create a positive narrative for people
    2. being consequent to a decision
    3. break the task down to little bits, do what you can and save the rest for later
    4. discuss the issues in small groups first and gain their commitment,  later engaging with larger parts of the community
    5. it is a spiritual matter, so start with spiritual considerations
    6. financial support may be convincing
    7. understanding personal responsibility
    8. taking cultural reasons into consideration
    9. good personal examples
    10. feeling of the community
  2. How do we change the way of our thinking, our views?
    1. we have to see things together
    2. environmental education is a holistic thing/approach
    3. look at causes and reasons together with consequences
    4. make things simpler, not more difficult
  3. Do we do what we say? How to better in this aspect? What about practice: when we discuss big theories do we also live according to them? How do we live in our everyday “material” life?
    1. practice is essential to big ideas and theories
    2. Focus on the questions: Who am I really? Do I want to show an ideal picture or do I have the courage to show my imperfect life?
    3. What kind of examples are we? What are “good enough” examples?
    4. Instead of “you should do…” rather “I would like…”
    5. lack of consistency doesn’t help
  4. What kind of tools do we have? Do we have the right tools to send our message? Can any method be the same useful?
    1. If there is a law saying something to do (or not to do) that may help to educate ourselves and commit ourselves to a certain behaviour. But we have to educate people to obey the law: it helps us make good decisions. And it is definitely not enough, a personal interest and commitment should be reached through the process of education.
    2. In the complex network of political, social, commercial and personal or community grassroots  levels how can we make a difference? Where should we start? Both directions have to work and we have to start at all levels. We don’t have time to wait for each other. 
    3. make campaigns of good examples of using the law
    4. encouraging good practices (also financially)
    5. raising awareness
    6. showing good examples
    7. have a variety of tools, learn how to pick the right tool
    8. sharing good examples, even internationally
    9. you have to have a small group, it works better when you don’t start alone
    10. often children are easier to start with
    11. children can be very powerful, they have good ideas and projects, let’s follow them
    12. you don’t lose anything by trying (Give it a go!)
    13. outings and outdoor things are important
    14. engaging children (and also adults) physically with things they can touch can be effective
    15. we have to use our emotions and build on them
    16. share stories of different living and earlier examples (both biblical, cultural and personal examples)
    17. we could work with each others’ stories, also with good stories of good projects
  5. Obstacles in environmental education
    1. old “routines”, habits and views (Does a solar panel fit with the architecture on the roof of the church building?)
    2. How to put together sacred and profane, old and new? Is the beauty of the building “ruined”?
    3. How is our brain is set around the things we are occupied with? It is hard to change that mindset. What for example beauty looks like is also what I want to be open to.
    4. We need to let our emotions and feelings into our decisions; or being stuck to well-known feelings will be a barrier to new emotions.
    5. Resistance and reluctance to change
    6. scepticism
    7. apathy
    8. people are overburdened (students in schools with curriculum, adults in their business and their task)
    9. no sense of urgency, it is low priority on the list
    10. statistics don’t help, they may generate fear but not activate
    11. our brain doesn’t feel the sudden threat (because of how it developed)
    12. naive optimism (“things will work out”, “everything will be OK”, “the planet will heal itself”)
    13. humanistic waiting for apocalypse, “we can even accelerate the process of apocalypse”
    14. one-sided and radicalistic theological approaches that leave out the teaching that we are responsible part of the created world
    15. the opinion that environmental issues are not ethical questions
    16. questions don’t really touch us personally
  6. What can help us best from our theological view, from our faith, from the Bible? 
    1. repentance = change of our behaviour, metanoia
    2. hope in God (about blessing our work, about the future of the world)
    3. real, biblical understanding of hope
    4. we can approach environmental issues in education as spiritual questions
    5. we should put our approaches as everyday issues
    6. praise-giving is very important
    7. the look-back on our days: What did I do today for God’s creation?
    8. having very strong and existential stories 
    9. church-gatherings may be a good place to start
    10. ecological hermeneutics of the biblical books are helpful
    11. including different parts of creation into our communication