Ohio Dominican University (ODU) has joined hundreds of Catholic colleges and universities around the world to answer Pope Francis’ call to develop action plans to better care for the planet and each other.

On March 15, ODU President Connie Gallaher signed a pledge to formally join the Vatican’s Seven Year Journey to Become a Laudato Si’ Campus. Pope Francis announced the initiative in 2021, which calls on all sectors of the church, including educational institutions, to implement sustainability practices and take steps to promote ecological education. The plan is inspired by Pope Francis’ landmark encyclical, “Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home,” which calls on all to pursue sustainability as a way to lift up the earth and all who live on it, especially those most affected by damage to the environment.

The university has formed a committee that consists of students, faculty, staff and administration to lead conversation, develop an action plan to advance each of the Laudato Si’ goals, and explore how best to incorporate them into the life of the university. Those goals include:

To respond to the cry of the Earth,
To respond to the cry of those who are poor and vulnerable,
To foster ecological economics,
To adopt sustainable lifestyles,
To develop and offer ecological education,
To promote an ecological spirituality; and
To support local communities, and to promote community resilience and empowerment. 

ODU’s Center for Dominican Studies is leading this campuswide initiative, elements of which will focus on efforts that include enhancing the university’s recycling program, introducing a composting initiative with its food services partner, Sodexo, and exploring ways for the university to reduce its carbon footprint.

“I am excited for Ohio Dominican to support this critically important initiative and join the many other Catholic institutions around the world in taking steps to address urgent challenges facing our planet,” said Gallaher. “Our commitment represents and fortifies ODU’s dedication to environmental and social justice, and this initiative provides an opportunity for all members of our campus family to come together to discuss what we as a university community can do to help solve global problems. I am delighted that ODU’s Center for Dominican Studies is leading this collaborative effort, as there is no better office to help champion steps we should take to become a more sustainable campus in the short and long term.”