Latest news

University distance-learning course on Christianity and the Environment

8th December 2008

Associate Fellow of the Centre, John McKeown, has pioneered a distance-learning module on “Christian Faith and the Environment” at the University of Gloucestershire, where he teaches for the Open Theological College. The module is worth 15 CATS credits, and can be taken as a stand-alone option, or can be counted towards an honours degree in theology. It is run by the Open Theological College, University of Gloucestershire, in the (long) semester from September to mid-February each year. One feature of the course, written by John McKeown, is its inclusion of animal ethics and a discussion of the theological status of animals.

Units covered include:

Creator and Creation
History of earth-affirming and earth-negating views of the world. Dualisms of matter/spirit and body/soul. Deism and pantheism are contrasted with doctrine of creation.

Eden and the Promised Land
Background information about life in biblical times. Theme of land explored through Eden, the promised land, and the whole earth. Raises issues of land ownership and use.

Fellow Creatures
Scientific and biblical insights into what humans have in common with other creatures. Also considers the theology of humans being uniquely created “in the image of God”.

Dominion and Stewardship
Examines different interpretations of biblical texts, especially Genesis chapters 1 and 2.

Sin, Curse and Fall
Explores differing views of the impact of sin on the earth including (i) a fallen world, (ii) a cursed earth, (iii) direct effect of environmental abuses – and their implications for the selection of appropriate responses to environmental problems.

Students have access to support from a specialist tutor, by email, and phone. There is a printed study guide, online resources, a student forum and focused participation in two structured online seminars each lasting one week. There are two marked assignments. Further information is available here, and people are welcome to email John McKeown directly at