At the first of its two annual retreats held from January 17-22, 2021, the IMR team crafted the shape and form of the school.
The proposed ‘School’ builds on the dream of having an educational platform that addresses the ecological crisis of the Pacific region.
Deforestation, land mining, ocean pollution, dying corals, tell a story of harm. Harm caused by development practices that focus on the greatest profit. Little goes back into keeping natural ecosystems thriving.
Director IMR Aisake Casimira said the ecological crisis affects Pacific Islanders in more ways than one.
‘Water and food sources are disappearing,’ Mr Casimira said.
‘As worrying is the loss of indigenous relationships with the land, sea, skies and all living creatures.
Whispering trees, speaking rivers, singing skies, all life communicating. These relationships, founded on respect and interdependence, is Pacific indigenous spirituality. It manifests itself in traditional songs, dances, practices and belief systems.
‘But it’s fast disappearing with our forests and natural life,’ said Mr. Casimira.
‘COVID19 exposed how broken the models of development we relied on for so long are,’ he added.
‘Rising rates of non-communicable diseases, violence, poverty show growing social injustices across the reigon,’ he said.
‘It’s time to change the story.’
In 2019, the Pacific Theological College Council set the mandate for there to be a School of Ecology as a an academic platform for change.
‘We have produced a basic structure at the IMR retreat but will need to work on mapping it out further,’ said Mr Casimira.
‘We are also looking at the curriculum plus its finance and administrative functions.
‘This is a curriculum founded on Pacific indigenous belief systems and spiritualities.’
The School proposes to start accepting students in 2025.