Support our Letter to Dean Indy Burke

We sent a letter to the Dean of the Yale School of the Environment to explain our initiative and to ask her to make the School a leader in this endeavor. Please read our letter and support our request to Dean Indy Burke by signing below.

Dear Dean Indy Burke:

We are a group of YSE alumni who are moving forward an idea that will contribute to inspire and change the way new generations relate to nature and meet the environmental challenges of this century and beyond. Despite many advances in different countries towards sustainability, we are hurtling towards an overheated planet, the 6th mass extinction, and a severely damaged global food and water system, all of which is resulting in social upheaval around the planet.

Gus Speth, our former Dean, once stated that science alone cannot solve these impending crises. “To deal with these issues we need a spiritual and cultural transformation – and we scientists do not know how to do that”.

As we approach a tipping point, any positive action today could have huge ramifications for our future. We propose a small but perhaps significant approach to this transformation – an initiative to designate Mother Earth as our teacher, providing her with visible presence in all schools of all levels (i.e., primary, middle, high schools, colleges, universities) throughout the world. Who better than Mother Earth, life herself, to teach us to know her, listen to her, love her and care for her?

With this movement we aim to help children and youth establish a bond with the natural world and adopt a personal ethical code that includes the rights of nature. Implementing this enterprise broadly through educational policy is essential if we want to affect real change. As alumni, we are asking the Yale School of the Environment to embrace Mother Earth as a teacher, recognizing her wisdom and our interdependence with the living biosphere.

Our proposal is based on work being done with indigenous groups in South and North America, and with urban communities throughout Peru by one group member. There, schools draft an official statement that declares Mother Earth as a teacher, her image is included as faculty member, and an outdoor area is designated as Mother Earth’s classroom. In addition, a “Rights of Nature” declaration is embedded in the curricula. It is a process that allows for the input of teachers as they engage in developing new course work and lectures that include Mother Earth as a colleague.

In these dire and urgent times, where the uncertainty of the climate crisis is a driving force that creates despair, we urge the YSE to join and lead this movement in the US by i) including Mother Earth as a Faculty member, ii) creating Mother Earth’s classroom, which could be Great Mountain Forest as per Star Childs’ suggestion, and iii) inspire other universities to take part and build on this evolving concept. We are convinced that with Mother Earth as an ally we will become more mindful and able to achieve harmony between humans and nature.  

We are committed to help YSE achieve this goal and have a meeting with you to move this initiative forward.

Thank you and regards,

Cesar Moran MEM 05
James Jiler MEM 94
Javier Dominguez MF 94
Joaquin Leguia MEM 94
Mirei Endara MEM 94
Suzanne Pelletier MEM 95

Teacher Mother Earth Movement

Antonio Guterres in his foreword on 2021 UN Environment Program report, Making Peace with Nature, wrote “By transforming how we view nature, we can recognize its true value… By recognizing nature as an indispensable ally, we can unleash human ingenuity in the service of sustainability and secure our own health and well-being alongside that of the planet”.

Please sign below if you support our letter to Dean Indy Burke. Please include your name, email address, class, and click on the check box if you want to receive communications from TME.

These are Yale Alumni supporting our letter:

First NameLast NameClassCityStateCountry
César Morán-Causac MEM 05 San Francisco California United States of America
James Jiler MEM 94 Outside US / Canada Spain
Javier Dominguez MF 94 New York New York United States of America
Joaquin Leguia MEM 94 Lima Outside US / Canada Peru
Mirei Endara MEM 94 Panama City Outside US / Canada Panama
Suzanne Pelletier MEM 95 New York New York United States of America
Jane Calvin MEM 94 Massachusetts United States of America
Nina Rooks Cast 1995 Rhode Island
William Stevenson MEM 1994 Massachusetts United States of America
Maureen Cunningham MEM ‘00 New York United States of America