[Ed. Note: Dr. Elleven is included on our Directory of Vegetarian/Vegan Pastors and Churches Who Are Animal Friendly.]
By Dr. Russell Elleven on Institute for Humane Education (IHE)
I have found a calling in the words I found in bold on the homepage of the Institute for Humane Education: “Help create a humane, sustainable, peaceful world for all people, animals and the planet.” That kind of idea was ever present on my mind as I searched for a structured avenue through which to study these types of issues further. I have found what I was looking for in the Humane Education Certificate Program (HECP).
In some ways, as a minister of a Unitarian Universalist congregation, I am called to think deeply for a living. Most Sundays I am expected to bring forth what I have been thinking about to the ears of those who have called me to serve. It is an exciting, frightening, and demanding way to make one’s way in the world.
I do not believe one can think deeply these days without coming across the ideas espoused by the Institute for Humane Education. None of us really knows what comes after we die. What we do know is that we are here now, that we have a chance to make a difference in the world, and that the people, the animals, and the planet depend on us making the best, most informed, and compassionate decisions.
I must admit to being attracted to IHE through my desire to learn more about animal rights and protection. Google helped me find the program after seeing a small blurb about an IHE student in VegNews Magazine. When I looked over the coursework required for the certificate I was reminded of something from my faith tradition that calls us to have, “Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.”
The interdependent web was right there before me on the IHE website. The planet, the animals, the people and our cultures are all interdependently linked together. I have no doubt about this linkage and that we have an opportunity to play a role in the betterment of this web of existence.
What has been very exciting thus far is the way the instructors have worked with me to make the certificate the most meaningful for my circumstance. I will not likely be a classroom teacher so I am allowed to work within the courses and adjust assignments that make the best use of my time and learning desires. To work with these people at IHE is truly a blessing in my life and work. I truly believe the learning I do with the IHE will enhance my congregational work and make it richer, more vibrant, and that my efforts can have greater impact.
I felt I was called to the ministry. I believe I am called to learn more and bring the message of humane education to others. If you have read this, you are probably called too. We are all called to take on and do this work of humane education. A great deal is at stake and this call must be answered by those who think deeply.
I hope to see you in class!
If interested, there is more about me here.