Session 1: The Road to Paris and Beyond - A Primer on Climate Change Policy, Action, and Ethics

Fall 2015

Monday, September 21, 2015 to Friday, October 2, 2015

This session will provide tools for studying the global climate change movement, drawing on the work of CRS and its U.S. and overseas partners. Emphasis will be on the upcoming December 2015 UN Climate Change Conference - its history and anticipated outcomes - and CRS' policy positions stemming from the agency's work in adaptation to climate change.

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The session will also address moral and theological voices in the global climate change movement, with emphasis on Pope Francis's encyclical on the environment. Note that Pope Francis's visit to the UN in New York and to the U.S. Congress will take place during this session (allowing us to draw on current news for our webcast and online discussion). 

"The stakes are high: the aim is to reach, for the first time, a universal, legally binding agreement that will enable us to combat climate change effectively and boost the transition towards resilient, low-carbon societies and economies." - Paris 2015: UN Climate Change Conference



Course materials

Module Materials

Learn about the work and objectives of the global climate change movement 

Consider ethical dimensions of global response to climate change, particularly those rooted in Catholic Social Thought

Examine what we can do as Americans to respond to climate change

Primary Resources

Introduction to climate change and CRS's integrated approach

Policy - The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (The December 2015 COP21)

Action - The Catholic climate movement and its context

The Global Catholic Climate Movement


The St. Francis Pledge


Case study on climate advocacy

Jame Schaefer, "Religious Motivation for Mitigating Human-Forced Climate Change: Scientifically Informed, Politically Astute, and Collaborative," International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management 6/1 (2014): 34-46. (Available in your institution's digital library.) This article examines the structure of, activities of, and use of scientific information by three faith-based organizations focused on mitigating the adverse effects of climate change. Organizations studied: Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change, and Interfaith Power and Light.


Ethics - Theology in the public square

Secondary Resources