Ecological Conversion in the College Classroom Practical Theological Reflection as Transformative Pedagogy

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Christiane M. Lang Hearlson


This essay describes an introductory theology course that appears to support ecological conversion. Ecological conversion is a term from Catholic Social Teaching popularized by Pope Francis in Laudato Si’; it indicates a transformation that results in ecological spirituality. The author, a Protestant theology professor at a Catholic university, makes a brief case for ecological conversion in the university and offers four reasons for the course’s impact: 1) a case study on consumerism, 2) cultivation of attentiveness, 3) a transformative pedagogy, and 4) a holistic approach. The author describes the units of the course, which are adapted from Richard Osmer’s practical theological reflection cycle, operationalized as a transformative pedagogy. The author shows how the course units track with a conversion sequence outlined by Lewis Rambo while calling for student agency and appropriation, thus supporting ecological conversion. The author details teaching practice and student engagement.

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