Canterbury Christ Church University Celebrates 60 Years
CUAC's Next Online Seminar: Building Flourishing Communities
New College Heads Across the Globe
Climate Change Seminar V Anglican colleges and universities seek ways for students to lead on climate
The alarm bells are ringing, but is anyone actually listening? Well, young people are, and how to empower them to sustain a livable planet was at the heart of the fifth Online Seminar COP26, Climate Change and Christian Universities recently produced with global participants by Colleges and Universities of the Anglican Communion (CUAC).
Bringing together two scientists and a theologian, spanning three continents, the seminar took place in the shadow of COP26 in Glasgow, an international effort at climate mitigation which has been criticized as “too little, too late.” Canon Jamie Callaway, CUAC’s General Secretary, began by noting that “the majority of CUAC’s 160 members live at growing risk of environmental degradation, be it rising sea levels, typhoons, cyclones and floods.” What they have in common is some historical connection with Anglicanism. What resources – practical or theological – they could draw from these ties was the “take home” factor offered by the seminar.
Specifically, as educators, what can their faculties and staffs and governing bodies do to assuage the very real eco-anxieties of their students – assailed today by an ever-mutating virus and an increasing degree of climate chaos -- while assuring the survival of their institutions? As Christians, believing that Anglicanism has something valuable to contribute to higher education, what can they do to guarantee that there will be a future for the human race?
Prof Joy Carter (left) is especially well positioned to discuss such issues. A former vice-chancellor of the University of Winchester (UK) and co-chair of the Climate Commission for UK Higher and Further Education, she is an environmental geochemist. “It’s bad, very bad,” she said of the climate crisis.
A rethinking of what universities are for is one step in dealing with this. Prof Carter cited Knowledge and the University: ReclaimingLife (2019), by education professors Ronald Barnett (University of East Anglia) and Soren Bengtsen (Aarhus University, Denmark). Rather than supporting institutions that monetize higher education (the “knowledge economy” as a career path) or belittle the possibility of ever knowing the truth (the “post-truth” deconstructed world of ever-elusive reality), they argue for universities that would create new roles for themselves in the public sphere, championing such values as truthfulness, engagement, and imagination.
In this spirit, Prof Carter urged a “mainstreaming” approach, starting at the administrative top and filtering down to every aspect of campus life. The curriculum, for example, should incorporate the formal (science-based ecology courses), the informal (events like Grow Green Week or Earth Day), and the “subliminal” (everything else, however at first glance trivial and every day). Auditing how well all this is working is an essential element in its success.
From the UK the seminar jumped to Australia and the Very Revd Dr Andreas Loewe (right), an eco-theologian, Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne, former Senior Chaplain at Trinity College there. He focused on how what might seem just another political campaign for ecological remediation is in fact deeply rooted in gospel justice. “At the end of the story of Creation, God entrusts this world to humankind, to be fruitful and multiply,” said Dr Loewe. “We call it stewardship because we are to be caretakers.” This implies accountability – he alluded to the Parable of the Three Stewards in Matthew – because “simply returning what we’ve been given isn’t good stewardship, Jesus tells us.” He elaborated on this idea of Creation as an act of the Trinity, in which God takes “the very dust of this Earth” and gives it human shape and breaths the Spirit into it; as the Letters of Paul remind us, Jesus is inextricably linked to this act because He is part of the fullness of God.
In Australia itself, Dr Loewe cited the increasing destruction of the Great Barrier Reef, the horrific 2020 brushfires, the 2021 severe flooding that ruined harvests as the price his country is paying for, among other failures, its inability “to walk away from coal.” He added: “There is no commitment from our government to provide any kind of leadership in this sphere.” In this moral and political vacuum, the churches are one institution stepping up to defend God’s Creation.
What will the church of the future look like, he recently asked a group of youngsters. They fantasized about fancy playgrounds and “lots of delicious cakes,” but when he asked them what they really thought the most important thing of all, they said climate change. If you don’t fix that, they told him, there won’t be any churches.
The third part of the seminar introduced Dr Paul Wilson (left), a chemist who is Principal of Madras Christian College in Chennai, Tamil Nadu – a part of the world where many colleges and universities are built very close to sea level. He gave a detailed account of how his college has taken the responsibility of not only teaching environmental science and climate change but of incorporating the Biblical perspective Dr Loewe had mentioned.
He spoke of resisting the sort of fatalism that says this is all God’s punishment of the world for its errors and greed – while recognizing that “just knowing more science doesn’t necessarily lead to concern for outcomes.” Generation Z students can seem alienated and lacking in conviction yet they are innovative and skeptical of conventional thinking. What is needed is a culture of innovation on campus that encourages these students to become involved in meaningful societal change.
Dr Wilson envisions Madras Christian College as an “innovation park.” This means not only teaching and fostering 21st-century survival skills like critical thinking, cooperation, creativity, innovation, and empathy. It means some very down-to-earth initiatives like a plastic-free campus, a bottle collection drive, tree planting, “green” infrastructure, restoration of native plant species, keeping forest patches undisturbed, generating solar power on campus (seen at right), using biophilic design in new buildings, staying “hydro-informatic.”
In summarizing the panel’s rich array of commentary, the seminar’s organizer the Revd Dr Jeremy Law (Dean of Chapel, Canterbury Christ Church University) saluted the range of “climate-smart” institutional changes that are taking place. But, he asked, is there “something fundamentally wrong with the way we are approaching this crisis?” Do we need a more radical shift? Are we too involved in “serving the world that is rather than the world to come?” CUAC Chair, Prof Peter Neil, Vice Chancellor of Bishop Grosseteste University in Lincoln, UK, closed the seminar, saying: “It has been a truly inspirational event this morning and the Greek word that comes to mind, I was thinking when we were talking, is kairos, the moment in time when action is consequential”.
The seminar recording and slides from all three presenters are available at www.cuac.org.
You Can Join the Climate Crisis Working Party
Building on enthusiastic responses to the recent Climate Crisis Online Seminar, we are gathering a CUAC Working Party to share their efforts and initiatives with peer institutions. This is a global crisis requiring global connections and responses. What is underway at your college or university? It could be faculty, staff or students; it could be course based or an activity. To take part, send the details of a contact person to Julia DeLashmutt by February 28th at [email protected].
St. John's Taipei Joins in New Venture
The Episcopal Diocese of Taiwan has created an educational path for clergy and lay leadership that eliminates the requirement of traveling overseas or attending the seminary of another Christian denomination, writes Neva Rae Fox in a recent issue of The Living Church.
Thanks to a new, expansive curriculum, Taiwan’s Trinity Hall has blossomed into Trinity School for Christian Ministry (TSCM), in collaboration with St. John’s University (SJU) in Taipei. Taiwan, at nearly 14,000 square miles and with a population of more than 23 million people, is home to the only overseas diocese of the Episcopal Church located in Asia. It comprises 15 congregations with about 1,200 members, eight kindergartens, and St. John’s University, the successor institution to St. John’s University, Shanghai.
SJU’s former chaplain, the Rt. Rev. Lennon Yuan-Rung Chang, was consecrated as Bishop of Taiwan in February 2020. He immediately set about reestablishing and developing Trinity Hall, where he had done all his theological training in the 1990s under the Rev. Canon David Chee. Chee, recently retired from the Diocese of Los Angeles, has now returned home to Taiwan. The timing was perfect. “It was natural for me to turn to my former teacher, David Chee, and invite him to take on the role of dean, and to use his expertise and enthusiasm to develop Trinity Hall,” Chang said. Showing its support and commitment, in June the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council provided $30,000 to TSCM for mission support, as well as education and training resources. In the latest development, TSCM is partnering with Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP) in Berkeley, California, to provide cultural and educational exchange opportunities, hopefully beginning in 2022.
SAVE THE DATE
CUAC's 6th Online Seminar
Building Flourishing Communities
Wednesday 27 April at 12:00 GMT
An Anglican College or University is not just a convenient institution through which to market educational products to customers. It is above all a community, a community of learning, research and support. The way we relate together shapes the formation of our students and models the kind of society we strive to create, including how we relate to the natural world. At a time when the Covid pandemic has rightly increased attention paid to mental wellbeing, how can we seek to build flourishing communities that nurture and support their members to achieve the best of which they are able? Moderated by the Revd Dr Jeremy T. Law, Dean of Chapel, Canterbury Christ Church University, UK, and drawing on voices from around the CUAC community.
Canterbury Christ Church University launched its year-long Diamond Jubilee celebration on Feb. 1 with Light Up the Night – “a walking thread of light” through Canterbury’s historic streets that ended with an outdoor party on the plaza of the Verena Holmes Building, their new multi-million-pound facility for Science, Technology, Health, Engineering and Medicine, opened in 2021. The Jubilee year includes reunions, performances, exhibits, public lectures, and new landscaping. For a full schedule, visit CCC Jubilee Events.
News from Around the CUAC World
Dr Gisela D. A. Luna became the first of its alumnae to become President of Trinity University of Asia in Quezon City, Philippines, on Jan. 1, succeeding Dr Wilfred U. Tiu, who had held the presidency since 2016. She was appointed for a five-year term.
She earned her BS and MA in nursing at TUA and an MaEd Special Education and Diploma in Early Childhood Development at UP Diliman, followed by a PhD in nursing from UP Manila. She has been honored as an "Outstanding Alumni in Nursing Education" and was chosen as one of 50 outstanding graduates during TUA's 50th anniversary celebration.
Dr Luna brings to the post a deep and varied experience in nursing education both in the practical and academic fields, including leadership roles in several national professional organizations. She has been TUA’s Vice President for Academic Affairs and President of St Luke’s Trinity College Nursing Alumni Association. She is currently serving as a CUAC Voting Trustee.
Professor Sarah Greer became Vice-Chancellor of the University of Winchester in January, following the Revd Prof Elizabeth Stuart, who had stepped in following the retirement of Prof Joy Carter in March 2021.
Prof Greer was Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost at the University of Worcester, where she worked for the past six years, responsible for academic strategy, planning, and delivery. An English Literature graduate of the University of Cambridge, Professor Greer went on to qualify first as a chartered accountant and then, after a further degree in Law, as a barrister, completing pupillage with the Treasury Solicitor.
Prof Greer has held a range of academic and leadership positions including Pro Vice Chancellor, Deputy-Pro Vice Chancellor, Dean and Head of School. She is also a National Teaching Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Her areas of research are the law of trusts and women’s legal history.
She is an accredited mediator in workplace disputes. She has held a series of public appointments including, most recently, as a General Commissioner for the Disabled Students’ Commission.
The Revd Prof Stuart, said: “Professor Greer has a real affinity to Winchester’s values and culture. She brings a wealth of experience and a clear vision and focus to help the University thrive in a post-Covid world.”
On January 21, Dr Nancy Berner was appointed as Acting Vice-Chancellor and President of Sewanee: The University of the South. She has served as the University’s Provost since 2017 and is its William Henderson Professor of Biology, having joined the faculty in 1992. Her degrees are from the University of Idaho and Stanford University. Board of Regents Chair Reed Funston and Bishop of East Carolina Robert Skirving, the University’s Chancellor, expressed the Board’s gratitude for Dr. Berner’s willingness to accept this new responsibility and high confidence in her leadership. She will serve until a search for the 18th Vice-Chancellor is completed.
A long time advocate of global studies, her research includes winter activity and acclimation in the Eastern red spotted newt. She involved countless undergraduate students in her research program that focused on amphibian overwintering physiology and the effects of global climate change on amphibians.
With Dr Berner’s appointment, Dr Scott Wilson, Vice Provost for Planning and Strategic Initiatives, became the University’s Acting Provost. He is the Alfred Walter Negley Professor in the Department of Politics, having joined Sewanee’s faculty in 1994. His degrees are from Oberlin College and Cornell University.
Sewanee’s 17th Vice-Chancellor, Reuben Brigety II, resigned in December in anticipation of his nomination as United State Ambassador to the Republic of South Africa. He was Sewanee’s first African-American president and had served since June of 2020. His ambassadorial nomination was put forward by the White House on February 4.
- IN MEMORIAM -
The Revd Canon John Carter (Jack) Powers, CUAC’s second General Secretary, died at home in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Dec. 26, 2021.
Powers was born in Tulsa in 1936, graduated from Cascia Hall, received his B.A. from the University of Oklahoma in 1958, and his Masters of Divinity from the General Theological Seminary in 1962. He was awarded the James Mills Diocesan Fellowship for a year of graduate study at Pembroke College, Cambridge University (UK) in 1974-75.
Powers led congregations at St. Luke’s Church, Idabel; Holy Family Church, Langston; St. Mary’s, Edmond; and Trinity Episcopal Church, Tulsa, where he served from 1975 to 1991. He worked for the Partnership for Service Learning in the Episcopal Church Center in New York City from 1991 to 1999. In retirement, Jack led the congregation at St. Bede’s in Cleveland, Oklahoma, from 2000 to 2017.
With friends and parishioners, Powers launched an effort to feed the hungry of Tulsa in a small garden behind an “iron gate” at Trinity Church. The Iron Gate is now in its own new facility and serves over 300,000 guests a year.
In 1993 he came to New York to join the Association of Episcopal Colleges. He traveled with Linda Chisholm to Japan and India to prepare for an international network and in 1995 succeeded her as General Secretary of CUAC, where he served until 2000. After returning to Tulsa, he kept his ties to New York and continued supporting CUAC. In 2001 Cuttington University in Liberia made him a Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa.
Professor David Peacock, a former Vice Chancellor of Whitelands and CUAC Board chair, has written:
“One of my particular memories of Jack is of a visit that he, Linda and I made to Anglican colleges in India, in early 1995. After a few days in Delhi visiting St Stephen’s College and Agra and the Taj Mahal, the three of us embarked on an epic 36-hour train journey from Delhi to Chennai (Madras). On boarding the train, we found that our first-class sleeping accommodation was an old Eastern European couchette compartment for six and any hopes we might have had of observing the vast expanse of the Indian landscape from the carriage windows was shattered by the fact that they were all heavily bespattered with dust and mud. Unfazed, Jack smiled and said that he would enjoy having time to do a bit of serious reading! As a travelling companion he was always a calming and reassuring presence, happy to go with the flow.
“Jack, of course, loved the buzz of city life, so he saw his time working to establish CUAC from the Episcopal Church Centre in mid-town Manhattan and living in a flat at the General Theological Seminary in Chelsea as a real bonus. He could find common ground with all whom he met, being equally comfortable for instance with the affluent and largely elderly members of the St George’s Society who held their annual dinner and dance in the Starlight Roof of the Waldorf=Astoria Hotel, and the young people from the CUAC and Service Learning offices at 815 Second Avenue who kitted him out and took him roller-blading in Central Park.
“To sum Jack up, he was for me the very best of companions, the kindest of men and a priest of the very highest order for whom I had the greatest of respect.”
From the General Secretary’s Desk
Climate change is an overwhelming issue to deal with because its effects are so multifaceted and pervasive. Other than our usual token measures, such as recycling and seeking energy efficiency, it’s difficult to know where to begin. CUAC’s recent Online Seminar with panelists from three continents and three disciplines was a start in seeking wholistic approaches. A biologist in the UK, a theologian in Australia, and a chemist in India joined in painting a comprehensive picture of the threat and outlining approaches our members can take, always remembering that students are the ones who will have to face most of the ongoing consequences of inaction. As one participant said, the Seminar was “the beginning of an international conversation.”
The Climate Crisis is an excellent example of current challenges that require global action that the CUAC family is uniquely positioned to initiate. As Prof Joy Carter reminded us, curriculums take many shapes: “while starting with a formal curriculum, there is an informal one, such as Green Week, and a subliminal one of practices, such as recycling and the like.” So our first task in connecting climate change efforts is to identify and publicize them among our members.
Such discovery is our current challenge, knowing that these initiatives range all across the map, from locales that are highly urban to those that are rural and agricultural. Not only are the situations so varied, but as Professor David Muir, from Whitelands College in London, reminded us, our task is to “do justice in supporting developing nations who are victims of industrialism and capital investments beyond their control.”
Dealing with the Climate Crisis is actually in our Anglican charter, as the fifth Mark of Mission: a commitment to safeguard the integrity of creation and to sustain and renew the life of the earth. While the board is working on adding this commitment to our Identity and Character Declaration, we need to be working on the ground with our members to bring it about.
The Revd Dr Elizabeth Perry of the Anglican Alliance, who joined the Seminar, lays out the challenge: “A key task we have as people of faith is not only to take individual action and advocate for policy changes but also to change the narrative around the climate emergency. As the Anglican Communion, we have something incredibly precious – we are a global, connected body with a shared identity that transcends national borders. We see things from a different perspective – we have an overview - and we can help others see things from a bigger perspective too: one of interconnectedness, shared humanity and love for our common home. We can point to realities and possibilities the politicians are failing to grasp. It’s a moral call but it’s so much more than that – it’s about firing people’s imaginations, about inspiring people to relationship and love, for one another and for our fabulous world.”
FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK
What Time's the Next Ark?
A friend asked me the other day if I could recommend a really good climate catastrophe novel. I hesitated – this dystopian genre is in its infancy, though there are some interesting books being published as our knowledge of the science grows. Then I thought of a masterpiece – The Book of Genesis, whose sixth through ninth chapters relate the Flood Narrative, with its denunciation of a human race so violent and willfully ignorant, that God almost destroys it. Noah and his well-laden ark are allowed to survive and encouraged to “be fruitful and multiply.” Which we have been ever since, perhaps to our peril.
But Noah’s story is not really dystopian, given its olive leaf and brave little dove. It has a moral, even a happy ending of sorts, unlike the Babylonians’ ancient Epic of Gilgamesh, which also includes a great flood. Should I have chosen the Tower of Babel instead? It’s perhaps more of a story of social breakdown than an existential catastrophe, but that has its timeliness as well.
Of course, who needs dystopian literature when the daily newspaper has so much to offer? Just as we in the United States thought we’d seen and heard everything and were resistant to any further shocks, there came the story of the National Butterfly Center, on the US-Mexican border. This is (was?) a nature sanctuary of considerable renown and ecological significance in the study of migratory tropical butterflies. It has had to shut down, however, because online conspiracy theorists and anti-vax cultists have put the lives of its staff in danger as a result of false charges of sex trafficking and child abuse. As one lepidopterist commented, it’s deeply disturbing that “we have come to the point where a significant part of the public is just no longer tethered to reality.”
So it was no surprise at all to open the New York Times this morning and find a front-page story on the burgeoning sub-field of psychology dealing with climate anxiety – a therapy of dealing with physical changes, real and anticipated, in the environment that cause persistent mental distress. Now it strikes me that college chaplains are better placed in some regards to deal with eco-anxiety than psychologists – they have a deeply embedded optimism and a willingness to listen and advise that goes far beyond a professional’s couch. How CUAC’s members are dealing with these new waves of anxiety – in the midst of a pandemic – is a subject we’ll explore in the months ahead. Charles Calhoun
Compass Points is published by GENERAL SECRETARY: The Revd Canon James G. Callaway, D.D. PUBLISHER: Julia DeLashmutt EDITOR: Charles C. Calhoun PRODUCER: Francis Rivera
Feb 2022 Compass Points
Inside this Issue:
St. John's Taipei Joins in New Venture
Canterbury Christ Church University Celebrates 60 Years
CUAC's Next Online Seminar: Building Flourishing Communities