For Educators

Spirit and Nature – Background


Is the environment a religious issue? Across many religious faiths, nature’s beauty and value are embraced. Sacred texts speak to the miracle of earth’s creation and bounty and to the ways humanity both benefits from and needs to protect its riches. The natural world is at the heart of a variety of spiritual practices and beliefs, underscoring a great reverence for all that the environment holds. For some, nature itself has become a primary source of spirituality.

In this lesson, students delve into the connection between the natural and human world from a spiritual, ethical and faith-based point of view. Resources include segments from RELIGION & ETHICS NEWSWEEKLY (the Web page for each segment also includes links to many more related resources and readings) and other Web sites.

Grade Level:

Grades 9-12

This lesson is intended for high school grades, but can be adapted for middle school students.

Time Allotment:

Activities may take several classroom periods. Estimated timeframes for each activity are noted under learning activities. Culminating activities may extend over longer periods of time depending on level of student interest and commitment to the projects.

Subject Matter:

Social studies; English/ language arts; religion

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Express their relationship (or concept of their relationship) with the natural world
  • Interpret spiritual/religious texts centered on humanity’s connection to and responsibility for the natural world
  • Consider the responsibility of religious figures and faith-based organizations to be actively involved in the civil rights movement.
  • Recognize how different faiths/spiritual beliefs/practices and individuals relate to the natural world
  • Devise a school or community-based or personal project that demonstrates their relationship to the natural world


Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning
4th Edition Standards & Benchmarks


Standard 14: Understands how human actions modify the physical environment

Level IV [Grade 9-12]

Benchmark 3: Understands the global impacts of human changes in the physical
environment Language Arts

Standard 9: Uses viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media

Level IV [Grade 9-12]

Benchmark 1: Uses a range of strategies to interpret visual media

Benchmark 2: Uses a variety of criteria relevant to evaluate informational media

This lesson was prepared by: Michele Israel