Stewardship Versus Citizenship

  • Eugene C. HargroveEmail author
Part of the Ecology and Ethics book series (ECET, volume 2)


Although “stewardship” may be an environmentally useful term in some contexts, it is also limiting in many ways because it is tied narrowly to three religious traditions, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. Thus, while it may be extremely helpful in reaching people who are members of one of these three traditions, people who are not followers of these religions may have difficulty with environmental material that is presented to them under the banner of stewardship. They may feel that the message they are receiving is colonizing, imperialistic, and/or totalizing. An alternative term that is religiously neutral is “environmental citizenship,” a term first used extensively by Environment Canada, but also used to some degree elsewhere, including the United Nations. It is possible that in some countries both stewardship and citizenship could be pursued in parallel. However, because of the Culture War, which began in the first decade of the nineteenth century, when Catholics first began coming to the United States in large numbers and were displeased with the Protestant religion and ethics they found in the public schools, ethics was largely removed from them by 1860. Since then watch groups in most major religions have formed to watch the public schools to prevent its reintroduction. Given that stewardship is a recognizable religious term, a program of Earth or environmental stewardship is more likely to be opposed than a program on Earth or environmental citizenship. Thus, it might be best to focus on citizenship in the public schools and stewardship among Judeo-Christian-Islamic religious audiences.


Christianity Citizenship Islam Judaism Stewardship 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Environmental PhilosophyUniversity of North TexasDentonUSA

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