KaLikhasang balaan: A critical analysis of Filipino youth environmental awareness and attitudes towards an eco-theological reflective process

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Theology

Subject Categories

Catholic Studies | Christianity | Demography, Population, and Ecology | Ethnic Studies | Human Ecology | Philosophy | Place and Environment | Religion


College of Liberal Arts


Theology and Religious Education

Thesis Advisor

Ma. Marilou Ibita

Defense Panel Chair

Rito V. Baring

Defense Panel Member

Rebecca G. Cacho
Agnes M. Brazal
Lysander P. Rivera
Abundio R. Babor Jr., MSC


Since the 1950s, environmental experts and scientists have sounded off climate change. In 2016 the environmental problem intensified with Australia speaking about Climate Emergency. The issue eventually led to a scientific consensus later declaring human culpability as a reason behind global warming. The Roman Catholic Church wrestled with this burning issue with the publication of the encyclical Laudato Si’. Nonetheless, the environmental problems remain in need of further contextual reflection for local churches. Emerging distinct voices from the youth seem to be stirring alternative ways of appreciating the environment. For instance, the Filipino Catholic youth expressed in a 2018 open letter to the RCC in the Philippines their voice regarding their dreams that point to a safe and sustainable world. Showing care for the common home is a sign of respect for Mother Earth and all of God’s creation. In this light, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines considered the youth as “catalysts of change.” In response to the youth’s emerging role, this study examined Filipino youth environmental attitudes and awareness of environmental issues. I explored the extent to which their awareness and attitudes may reflect enduring theological insights for environmental theologizing and how relevant theological literature dialogue with their voices. Using youth experiences and Philippine environmental realities, the present study proposed a five-step eco-theological reflective process structured around the See-Judge-Act-Evaluate-Celebrate/Ritualize (SJAEC/R) frame in the light of Sallie McFague’s eschatological approach to ecology and Reimund Bieringer, Mary Elsbernd and Ma. Marilou Ibita’s eschatological or future-oriented hermeneutics called Normativity of the Future. These theological models were used as an interpretive theological lens in the reflective process to see how might youth experiences dialogue with theology (e.g. future or eschatological orientedness) to inform current theological reflection for the environment. The data sets were taken from three measures: students’ awareness of key environmental issues and, their attitudes towards the environment. The measures included: (a) an adaptation of Serpil Ӧnder’s “A Survey of Awareness and Behaviour in Regard to Environmental Issues among Selcuk University Students in Konya, Turkey” a measure for students’ awareness on environmental issues, (b) the Pro-Environment Scale (PES) and, (c) the Students’ Attitudes towards the Environment (SAE) developed from another collaborated study entitled v “Student attitudes towards the Environment and Religion: Revisiting the gap between Religious Orthodoxy and Environmental Views.” Being empirical, the data set is analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively. For quantitative analysis I used descriptive and inferential tools to obtain an integrated picture of youth experiences. Then, I examined the data qualitatively using content analysis to draw the themes for later theological interpretation. Analysis of content aids a larger contextual analysis of Philippine environmental context vis a vis the UN SDGs, and a review of relevant literature with respect to the empirical results. Both levels of analysis provided this study some depth in understanding the characteristics of youth attitudes and experiences when re-examined in the light of the Philippine context and realities, relevant literature, the eschatological model of McFague and Future-oriented hermeneutic model of Bieringer and Elsbernd complemented by Ibita’s local work. Overall analysis of youth attitudes revealed how the youth mindset expressed a theocentric view towards the environment underscored in this study as Christian Environmentalism. A conceptual correlate of Christian Environmentalism is introduced in this study as KaLikhasang Balaan conceived through conceptual analysis of Filipino youth worldviews from the survey. The results revealed that youth attitudes towards the environment emphasized God’s role as creator, sanctity of nature and human moral responsibility towards creation. Hence youth attitudes depart from an anthropocentric assessment of creation and leans instead towards ecocentric orientation recognizing the sanctity of nature and emphasizing human moral responsibility as a form of environmental stewardship. KaLikhasang Balaan had significant interactions with gender, church visit, location, Christian affiliation and year level. Hence gender discourses, religious affiliation, regional considerations and academic instruction are meaningful factors when studying Filipino youth environmental attitudes. Their attitudes positively correlate with pro-environment and religious attitudes. Further examination of their awareness levels showed that the youth commitment towards the environment is needed especially in terms of the extinction of flora and fauna. Having examined the unique features of KaLikhasang Balaan as the face of Filipino youth environmental attitudes, its interactions with other attitudes and theology particularly the theologies of McFague, Bieringer, Elsbernd and Ibita, I proposed a systematization of analysis and environmental vi interpretation through a five-step eco-theological reflective process organized around the SJAEC/R method. This reflective process is proposed as a useful data-driven reflective process to form the Filipino youth mindset for the environment. This reflective schema can be duplicated by tertiary institutions, the church and youth organizations to outline the dialogue between eco-theology and youth environmental worldviews and experiences.

Keywords: Environmental Awareness; Environmental Attitudes; Christian Environmentalism; Empirical Theology; Students’ Attitude; Students’ Spirituality; Theological Reflections; Eco-theology; environmental theology; eco spirituality

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Physical Description

xxiv, 369 leaves


Awareness—Environmental aspects; Theology—Environmental aspects; Environmentalism—Religious aspects—Christianity; Empirical theology

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