Healing Earth (HE) is an online environmental science textbook for beginning college students, upper level secondary school students and adult learners. It presents six topics of current environmental concern:

Biodiversity; Natural Resources; Energy; Water; Food; Global Climate Change.

HE has three characteristics that make it a unique environmental science textbook.

  • HE presents an integrated approach toward environmental science: scientific knowledge is joined by ethical analysis, spiritual reflection, and a call to action.
  • HE offers a global perspective: content, examples and lessons are drawn from different regions and cultures around the world.
  • HE is a living textbook: it is monitored daily by the HE team for content updates and environmental news; users are encouraged to submit edits, ideas, and materials on an ongoing basis.

The HE team believes that the urgency of today’s ecological challenges call for this unique approach to environmental science.

  • The wisest and most effective responses to Earth’s ecological challenges will come from people who are scientifically literate, ethically grounded, spiritually aware, and motivated to act.
  • The range of Earth’s environmental problems is no longer only local, regional, or even national, but planetary; people who can think both locally and globally are in the best position to address today’s environmental challenges.
  • New knowledge about the Earth and its natural systems increases daily; people who can access a regularly updated resource in environmental science, ethics, spirituality, and action are well-equipped to take the lead in creating environmental solutions.

The HE team is delighted that you are interested in using this online textbook. We hope that what you find here is the kind of interdisciplinary and engaged approach to environmental science that you are looking for.

HE responds to a need expressed by many environmental science teachers today: to educate students as whole persons, as human beings with active minds, compassionate hearts, inner beliefs and commitments, and energies to act. Possibly educator Rita J. Turner says it best:

Teachers see the future in front of them everyday. We watch future leaders, future parents, future caretakers develop before our eyes. We know that what students learn, what they believe, and how they see themselves and their world can shape who they become as people. And we know that who they become as people can shape the world.

I’m a teacher because I want to see people shape the world for the better. I want to see a future that is more just, healthy, and happy than the world I see around me today. A future in which humans aren’t destroying the ecosystems we depend on for survival. 1

The HE team believes it is vitally important that we help our students imagine positive possibilities for the world they are inheriting at the same time as they are learning environmental science. This means that as they acquire solid empirical knowledge of Earth’s environment, they are also forming an ethical vision, a spiritual commitment, and a motivation to act in the world.

If you teach environmental science this way, or aspire to do so, HE is your companion.  Whether you are a college professor, secondary school teacher, or community educator, the purpose of this Teacher Guide is to help you communicate an integral ecology. The Guide takes you through the eight parts of HE: Introduction, Biodiversity Chapter, Natural Resources Chapter, Energy Chapter, Water Chapter, Food Chapter, Global Climate Change Chapter, and Synthesis.

It is essential that before you turn to the Chapter Guides, you work through the Introduction Guide presented here. This Introduction Guide gives the central vision, rationale, and structure of HE. It discusses key concepts and terms used throughout the textbook and makes helpful recommendations on how to use HE in the classroom. It also explains the features on the opening page of the HE website.

Before we begin exploring the HE Introduction, there are four important points to keep in mind:

  • You may be a seasoned veteran or a beginner at teaching environmental science, ethics, spirituality, and action. This guide assumes a beginner’s perspective. We hope educators at all levels and all disciplines will find it helpful and be able to easily and creatively use HE with the help of this Teacher Guide.
  • Do not be daunted by the amount and range of material presented in HE. The wealth of ideas and information is meant to provide a variety of topics and viewpoints from which to construct your course. Feel free to be selective, focusing on particular topics and concepts you want your students to understand. Especially in the ethics, spirituality, and action sections of each chapter, feel free to teach for depth, not for coverage. In other words, you may find it more fruitful to focus on one or two particular ideas in these sections, rather than bringing your students through everything presented.
  • In May 2015, Pope Francis released an encyclical letter on integral ecology called Laudato Si’. This is an important letter for anyone interested in environmental science, ethics, spirituality, and action. The spirit, message, and approach of Laudato Si’ aligns perfectly with HE. With this in mind, we have included quotations (in purple) from Laudato Si’ throughout this Teacher Guide. We include these for teachers who may want to incorporate a discussion of the pope’s encyclical letter into their classroom work. You can access Laudato Si’ here.
  • AlertThese warning signs occasionally appear in the Teacher Guide. They indicate special points for your attention as you prepare to teach HE.

Remember HE is a living textbook. As you go through the Teacher Guide, we ask that you point out to the HE team any errors you discover in the text, or areas where you feel the Guide could be expanded and improved.  Please share your ideas and questions with us via email at IJEP@luc.edu.

Download Teacher Guides and Lesson Modules

Download Resources:

Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si’ (PDF)

Moral Goals (PDF)

Moral Principles (PDF)

Moral Virtues (PDF)