To combine his two interests into one senior project, Sam focused on Ecotheology as it applies to the potential development of the Pebble Mine. He chose this subject so that he could better understand why the American Orthodox Church had become involved in the debate surrounding this development. In January of 2011, Father Michael Oleska, along with other members of the American Orthodox Church, traveled to various villages in Southwest Alaska to bless the waters of Bristol Bay. These are waters that could potentially be affected by the tailings of the Pebble Mine project.
Ecotheology examines the intersection of religion and nature. For Sam, it was surprising to learn that “religions can address issues in a holistic manner that secular groups either cannot or do not.”
Sam’s inquiry concentrated on issues of community, morality, and spirituality, as well as the scientific principles underlying controversy. Sam says, “To fully address these concerns, religions must speak on matters affecting their congregations.”