Fostering an ecologically sustainable mindset

Action research at St Patrick’s College, Shorncliffe

St Patrick’s College (St Pat’s) Shorncliffe is one of more than 50 schools that are part of the Edmund Rice Education Australia (EREA) network, offering a catholic education in the tradition of Edmund Rice.

In 2017, EREA signed the Laudato Si’ Pledge, a worldwide campaign by the Global Catholic Climate Movement and its member organisations to raise awareness of the Laudato Si’ message and encourage the global catholic community to take action against climate change.

In response to this and the school’s newly crafted Vision 2023, St Pat’s has formed a Stewardship Committee comprising volunteer staff from different faculties across the school. With capacity to shape collaborative projects, the committee will link students to the world beyond the classroom, encouraging them to practise active citizenship by becoming involved in local community group/government activities to support global justice and sustainable futures.

‘Today, however, we have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.’

Laudato Si’ n. 49

Action Research Project – Stewardship Committee

This action research project explored how the development of a Stewardship Committee can assist school leaders to promote changes to school culture and everyday practices and apply the ecological values featured in Laudato Si’.

Project objectives

The Stewardship Committee will support school leaders to:

  • promote a school-wide change towards an ecologically sustainable mindset for its evolving global citizens
  • increase awareness of ecologically sustainable practices
  • seek opportunities to translate the global message of Laudato Si’ through collaborative projects that demonstrate the interdependence of St Pat’s and the local Sandgate community.

Lead teacher

The project is led by Luke Royes, Program Leader Liberating Education at St Pat’s. In this role, Luke coordinates the homestay program for Indigenous students and works with staff to embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives and justice and peace themes across the curriculum.

For Luke, collaborating with the GLC is an opportunity to strengthen his understanding of Environmental Education for Sustainability through partnerships between the school and local community.

Project evaluation

We are delivering beyond expectations…we have covered a lot more than I thought we would be able to…teaching and learning, student leadership, community link . I feel more confident in how the committee meetings will run. I will apply the model to other things e.g. Reconciliation Committee.  (Luke Royes, Project Leader)

I am really pleased with the direction that the Stewardship Committee is heading in. There is great energy in the group and we have good clear direction for where we could go with this. The structured approach that you and Luke have put together is excellent and has given us a model we can apply to other issues in our Identity area. I think the connections to the wider community that we are making through the work of the Committee is a great benefit to us and will enable us to build stronger connections to our local community. (Tim Kenny, Dean of Identity)

I am certainly excited to be a part of the project and I commend Luke and the committee for the work that they have done to date.  As you know, it is great to have such committed colleagues and Luke is doing a wonderful job in leading them within this project. Thank you also for your expertise, assistance and support, it is certainly appreciated. (Chris Mayes, Principal)

About St Patrick’s College, Shorncliffe

St Patrick’s College is a catholic school based at Shorncliffe, Brisbane, providing education to 1300 young men in Years 5 through to 12. With a commitment to embedding all three Australian Curriculum cross-curricular priorities and general capabilities (in particular intercultural understanding and ethical understanding) in alignment with EREA’s Educating for Justice and Peace Framework, the school uses a coordinated approach to whole-school planning to achieve outcomes for both the Australian Curriculum and for justice and peace literacy.

Webinar – post action research reflections

Listen to Luke in conversation with Alisa Cleary as he discusses the impact of the action research project during a webinar presentation.

Global Citizenship Ed: Action Research 3 – St Patrick’s Shorncliffe