I. Malik Saafir is a GreenFaith Fellow and environmental justice advocate. As a fellow, Malik works with faith communities to address environmental justice issues in Arkansas.
The GreenFaith Fellowship Program
The GreenFaith Fellowship Program is the first comprehensive education and training program in the US to prepare lay and ordained leaders from diverse religious traditions for religiously based environmental leadership. Through this program, GreenFaith is offering religious leaders a unique opportunity for educational, spiritual and vocational growth and skill development in religious environmentalism. Using insights gained by successful religious leadership development programs and resources developed through past religious-environmental initiatives, the program will educate leaders from diverse backgrounds to develop and implement plans to address environmental issues in their vocational settings.
The GreenFaith Fellowship Program Curriculum
Fellows read texts that have shaped religious environmentalism, be introduced to various faces of the religious-environmental movement, and learn about key points, leaders and texts from the history of the environmental movement. Fellows also explore important themes in the relationship between science and religion. From within these readings, Fellows identify resources to inspire and guide their own vocational and leadership development.
2. A Scientific Review of Global Environmental Issues
Fellows learn to speak confidently to a lay audience about scientific dimensions of environmental concerns, including the state of global ecosystems, climate change, environmental toxins, and the environmental impacts of population, economic activities, and war. In addition, Fellows learn to articulate responses to religiously-based counter-scientific claims.
3. Developing a Personal Eco-Theology
Drawing on personal experience and research into the sacred and theological texts of their traditions, Fellows write their own eco-theological statement. These statements serve as a basis for interreligious dialogue within the program and a resource from which Fellows can speak to their own communities. As part of the eco-theology Fellows write an ecological autobiography, identify spiritual experiences they have had in nature, explore sacred and theological texts describing the relationship between the human soul, the divine and the earth. Through the writing of the eco-theology the Fellows learn how to integrate ecological themes into worship, pastoral care, religious education and programs promoting spiritual development.
4. Study the Classic Sources of Religious Environmentalism Fellows will have the opportunity to study with faculty the classic Biblical and other religious texts can be interpreted in light of modern environmentalism.
5. Race, Poverty and Pollution – History and Methods of Environmental Justice Work
Fellows take part in “Toxic Tours” of environmentally-blighted urban communities, learn from leaders of successful environmental justice campaigns, read the work of leading theologians on environmental justice, and receive introductory training in methods of legislative advocacy and community organizing for environmental justice
6. Religion, Consumption, and Reducing our Ecological Footprint – Environmental Stewardship and Religious Institutions
Fellows learn how the lifestyle of the average US citizen and religious institution negatively impacts the environment, and are taught to reduce their own “ecological footprint” and the footprint of their house of worship. Areas of focus include energy conservation, renewable energy, water conservation, toxics reduction, waste reduction, procurement, transportation and food choices.
7. Developing and Implementing a Religious-Environmental Leadership Plan
Fellows articulate their guiding principles for leadership and develop a religious-environmental leadership plan that engages stakeholders in communities including their house of worship, denomination, geographic region and regional environmental community. GreenFaith staff work directly with each Fellow to develop his or her plan, and provide regular mentoring calls to support Fellows.