182587 Preaching what we should practice: The church environmental literacy initiative

Tuesday, October 28, 2008: 3:15 PM

Marcia Allen Owens, JD, PhD , Environmental Sciences Institute, Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, FL
The Church Environmental Literacy Initiative (CELI),a partnership with Florida A&M University, promotes environmental health and literacy in the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AMEC), a large, predominantly Black, organized religious denomination. CELI disseminates faith-based (developed by the National Council of Churches) environmental education curricula, and is establishing a model of environmental education which may be replicated in other denominations serving Black communities. Curricula such as Mindful Living: Human Health, Pollution, and Toxics have not been widely used by Black congregations. Environmental literacy is low nationwide; environmental literacy is even lower among Blacks. CELI is an effort to raise awareness and educate AME pastors and congregations about the pervasiveness of issues of human health and the environment. Environmental professionals such as James Gustave Speth,, have acknowledged that religion is trumping science and that a new approach is needed stating: “We've got to communicate in ways that appeal to the heart as well as the head and speak to people's values and aspirations as well as their intellects.” Researchers also suggest that Blacks are more inclined to participate in environmental behavior if they feel empowered to do so, that is, if they feel that their behavior makes a difference. Accordingly, CELI helps to fill the need for novel approaches to increasing the environmental health literacy of Blacks and other people of color.

Learning Objectives:
By the end of the session, the participant will be able to: 1) Articulate specific strategies for communicating the importance of environmental health to Black congregations 2) Identify and apply strategies for using faith-based environmental health curricula 3) Apply the CELI model in other congregations.

Keywords: Environmental Health, Faith Community

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the principal investigator of the Church Environmental Literacy Initiative
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.