Inspired by Catholic intellectual tradition, the University of St. Thomas educates students to be morally responsible leaders who think critically, act wisely, and work skillfully
to advance the common good.
SUSTAINABILITY AND OUR MISSION TO ADVANCE THE COMMON GOOD Care for creation and stewardship of natural resources are deeply rooted in the Catholic tradition and the University of St. Thomas itself. From the first pages of the Bible, to the teachings of St. Francis of Assisi, and through the contemporary expression of faith, the Catholic tradition has been guided by three fundamental themes. First, we humans and our descendants are dependent on creation for our survival and flourishing. Second, through and in creation we experience our relationship with God and our connectedness to God’s creation. Third, we have a moral responsibility to care for creation. As a Catholic university, the particular responsibility of the University of St. Thomas is education. In Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si, On Care for our Common Home , he calls our current ecological crisis “an educational challenge.” The curriculum of environmental education cannot be limited to “scientific information, consciousness-raising, and the prevention of environmental risks.” Rather, the challenge before us requires a comprehensive approach rooted in dialogue and encounter that “seeks ... to restore various levels of ecological equilibrium, establish harmony within ourselves, with others, with nature, and … with God.” We “facilitate making the leap toward the transcendent which gives ecological ethics its deepest meaning.” Our task is to help “people, through effective pedagogy, to grow in solidarity, responsibility, and compassionate care.” When we rise to meet this educational challenge, we foster the conditions for our students to advance the common good. With the university's strategic plan, "St. Thomas 2020: Living Our Mission, Expanding Our Horizon," the university pledges “an ethic of the care for God’s creation through curricular and cocurricular activities aimed at environmental stewardship and sustainability.” A commitment to sustainability is implicit in the seal of the University of St. Thomas, the symbol of our institution. Directly under the image of a book is a set of wavy lines signifying the Mississippi River – the inspiring wonder that borders our St. Paul campus and is a short walk from our Minneapolis campus. Additionally, our Rome campus overlooks the Tiber River. It is a constant reminder of the beauty of creation and our interconnectedness with nature. Sustainability, then, lies at the heart of our mission. By incorporating sustainability into all that we do – the curriculum, student life programs, facilities and operations, public engagement, and administration – we demonstrate our commitment to the common good to our students and the broader community. We will empower our students and be a model for other institutions.
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