foster ecological economics

Pope Francis’ Journey challenges universities to make strategic economic decisions informed by both the circular design of nature’s economy and the moral imperatives of environmental and social justice: equity in the distribution of environmental benefits and liabilities; recognition of all people as participants in environmental decision-making; access of all people–especially the poor–to the basic goods necessary for life; respect  for the intrinsic value of nature itself.  

A university on the Journey looks for creative ways to divest from fossil fuel and  invest in a green enterprises. From the way it maintains its physical plant, hires personnel, designs curricula, and encourages research, a Laudato Si’ university  is called to internally and externally advocate for a circular, relational economics. The chart below offers a small fraction of outcomes and action possibilities for a university’s Laudato Si’ Action Plan.


Andrea Lissette del Cid Monterroso
Universidad Rafael Landivar 
Guatemala City, Guatemala

Action Examples Chart





Physical Plant




Community Relations





Audit investments and insurance for environmental impact; divest from fossil fuel industries, industries that manufacture weapons, and industries complicit in war.

Develop and implement an environmentally sustainable budget, including Earth-friendly investment, banking with cooperatively owned financial institutions,  and green contract policies.

Reinvest divested-funds into clean energy with and jobs for workers and communities dislocated from fossil-fuel jobs; support interdisciplinary, integral research in circular economics..

Take a ‘total cost of ownership’ (TCO) approach to purchasing.

Establish relationships with sustainable businesses in the local community.

Create courses or programs on a circular, green economic model for universities.

Audit environmental impact of facilities maintenance procedures.

Develop and implement a sustainability plan for facilities maintenance.

Set a date for carbon neutrality and an associated action plan.

Measure campus waste footprint by conducting a waste audit, differentiating landfill, recycling, and organic waste streams.

Begin a campus-wide repairing and repurposing policy for all material stock; compost food waste.

Begin a small biodiesel production program using campus waste vegetable oils; begin a biogas production program using campus compost.

Establish an administrative position in environmental sustainability.

Put environmental awareness and nonviolence in official university mission statement; ensure that women and people from underrepresented communities participate in administrative discussions.

Build a dedicated center, institute, or school for environmental sustainability; provide ‘green retirement’ resources to retiring faculty and staff.

Initiate a campus-wide ‘green office’ process; begin a program of distributing graduating students’ clothing and goods to incoming students.

Begin using a comprehensive ecological footprint system for the university; require that all university-funded research has sustainability impact statements.

Begin a faculty hiring initiative in environmental studies, science, and economics.

Provide good jobs with livable wages, conditions, and benefits; honor the right of employees to join a union.

Make university education benefits available to employees and their family members.

Create fora where employees from every sector of the university can meet and gain awareness of the benefits gained and challenges faced by  working people across the entire institution.

Audit the economic impact of the university on the local community.

Support community-based research on how communities can sustain circular economic methods within a linear national economy.

Build a campus grey-water retention system; remove impermeable surfaces; assist community clean-ups of nearby rivers, lakes, or oceans.