Natalie Ambrosio | December 7, 2016
The students filing into Room 102 of the Pasquerilla Center on this Friday morning in early October come from Holy Cross, Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame. They take their seats among professors from each of the three schools and the cheerful greetings all around hint at the creation of a community.
This is Sustainability at [Notre Dame] and in the Holy Cross Charism — the course title differs depending on where a student is enrolled — a two-credit, interdisciplinary, first-of-its-kind class that rotates from one campus to the next each week, giving students the chance to learn up close how each school manages its resources with an eye toward its moral responsibilities, present and future.
Today’s class is part of the course’s energy unit. After a brief lecture on the University’s energy needs and its conservation efforts over the last 10 years, the plan is to head downstairs into the building’s basement and then over to the construction site near Stepan Center where workers are drilling the geothermal wells that will sit beneath the marching band’s future practice fields.
Taught by six professors — their academic and campus affiliations include biology, theology, campus ministry, English and environmental studies — the course is the culmination of years of discussion about how to foster a deeper connection among the three Holy Cross schools and their institutional partners in the local community.
“We share the same ecosystem and we also share the same charism, the order of the Holy Cross,” Notre Dame theology professor Margie Pfeil says, explaining the latter half of the course’s title. With its roots in 19th century France, the Congregation of Holy Cross embraces its founder’s direction to be “educators in faith” and maintain a deep trust in God’s providence. The course, she says, is meant to explore this spiritual vision and help students relate it to current ideas about human interconnectedness, sustainable development and environmental degradation. Students try to answer one central question: “How do we sustain our lives as humans in relationship to all of creation?”