The programs of Emerging Ecology draw heavily on the writings and teachings of Thomas Berry. His last book, The Great Work, provides the historical context and action-oriented guidelines for individuals and organizations in the 21st Century. To make Thomas' work more widely available, Emerging Ecology offers selected readings and a six-session study guide.
The study guide and participant materials can be downloaded by using the links provided below.
What the Study Guide Offers
The Great Work Study Guide is designed for use by groups in congregations, book clubs, schools and organizations that are looking for fresh ways to understand how to respond appropriately to the situations and challenges of the 21st Century.
In his book, Thomas describes, in detail, the complex forces that have brought human civilization into the unique position of actively participating in shaping the entire future of the Planet on which it lives. Civilization’s current situation is filled with immense opportunities, fraught with unforeseen dangers and requires an in-depth reconsideration of the values, understandings and assumptions (the worldview) that have carried the human species up to this point. By outlining types of changes required within the major institutions that shape human society, Thomas Berry provides the seeds for individuals and groups to chart their personal and collective ways into the ever-emerging future.
The six excerpted readings and the leaders' study guide procedures are provided free of charge by Emerging Ecology. In order to respect the author's copyrights, Emerging Ecology requests that anyone using this material notify us of when the materials are being used an how many copies are made. Your cooperation is appreciated.
A sample flyer with the session themes and can be downloaded to promote local study groups.
Participants in The Great Work study seminars have one reading for each of the six sessions. The .pdf files below contain excerpts from The Great Work for each session. The documents are designed to be printed front and back on an 11 x 17 sheet of paper (or two standard 8 1/2 x 11 pages).
Highlights of the content of each of the six sessions are available in a Study Guide Overview of the book.
Each reading is designed to convey both the particular content and the literary flair of Thomas' original work.
- Session 1 Readings, Our Contemporary Task: Provides an introduction to the changing opportunities of the 21st Century.
- Session 2 Readings, The Historical Task: Sets the context for living in an emerging Universe.
- Session 3 Readings, A New Way of Knowing: Outlines ways for rethinking the context for future actions.
- Session 4 Readings, How to Decide: Explores ways for building a future in ways that are mutually enhancing for the human and non-human worlds.
- Session 5 Readings, End of an Era: Provokes discussion about ways for getting beyond The Petroleum Interval.
- Session 6 Readings, Species Level Change: Sets the stage for embodying the changes that will lay the foundation for future generations.
Worksheets for each session are available to allow participants to pre-think their comments for forthcoming sessions.
For people who want an easy-to-read overview-level understanding of The Great Work, these six readings provide an acceptable grasp of the important concepts of Thomas Berry's seminal book.
Emerging Ecology has prepared a detailed study guide for groups wishing to move from understanding to action with The Great Work. The Study Guide provides open-ended discussion questions for six sessions. The optimal group size for this approach ranges between 5 and 15. Emerging Ecology is also available, upon request, to lead these study groups and/or provide training and support to the prospective leaders.
Contextual presentations about Thomas Berry and his important work can be made to organizations and groups of interested people. Use the form below to arrange a time to speak with a representative of Emerging Ecology about the work of Thomas Berry.