Course Description:   This course primarily explores the growth of ethical, compassionate, and environmentally sustainable green funeral services. Growing numbers of funeral consumers are expressing a strong interest in living—and dying—with a lighter hand on the land, creating a demand for innovative products and authentic services that they may not perceive to be available in standard services. Many consumers have been drawn toward home funerals, home vigils, and green (or natural) burials, as well as biodegradable, fair-market, and footprint-conscious products. This course explores, in depth, the rise in environmentally conscious products and practices, aesthetics and ethics. Learn how the contemporary perception of funerals is changing and how funeral service providers can meet their needs with integrity—and stay in business at the same time. Students who take and pass this course will be eligible to earn a Certificate of Proficiency in Green Funeral Service from the Green Burial Council.


Course Objectives:   

Upon satisfactory completion of this course, the student shall be able to: 

  1. Identified avenues for arranging, documenting, and performing an environmentally conscious funeral- ethically and lawfully. 
  2. Explain what makes a burial or funeral “green” and define historical events that influenced changes in the modern funeral industry. 
  3. Express cultural perspectives of green burial and use them to create their own perspectives on green burial. 
  4. Recognize ways to reduce the impact of the funeral homes’ operations on the environment and relate the importance of it to others. 
  5. Identify resources needed to make first contact with a green burial family and what to bring on a removal. 
  6. Demonstrate how to handle and prepare a dead body safely without the use of chemicals that are harmful for the environment and worker health. 
  7. Recognize the needs of a green burial family to create a funeral service imbedded with meaningful rituals and participation. 
  8. Organize a green disposition and explain to a family what to expect. 
  9. Apply what is learned to arrange a legal, written plan of action for performing a green burial based on the needs of a family.
  10. Apply what is learned to create an environmentally friendly funeral.

Course Instructors

Samuel Perry

Sam Perry is a dual licensed mortician, Assistant Lecturer of Mortuary Science and Funeral Service at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and Green Burial Advocate. He has a bachelor’s degree in mortuary science and funeral service and a masters of education. He furthered his studies of funeral rites abroad in countries around the world such as Ghana, Japan, and India. Sam has experience in funeral homes, crematories, and coordinating an anatomical gift program. He is passionate about the environment and has volunteered with the Green Burial Council (GBC) since 2010. He helped launch the GBC Certificate of Proficiency in Green Funeral Service with Lee Webster in 2018.

Lee Webster

Lee Webster’s experience in education and development for private secondary schools, colleges and universities and serving in nonprofit leadership positions of the National Home Funeral Alliance, Green Burial Council, Conservation Burial Alliance, National End-of-Life Doula Alliance, NH Funeral Resources, Education & Advocacy, and the Funeral Partnership inform her work as a nationally recognized educator in the end of life sphere. She guest lectures routinely at various prominent colleges and universities, and has designed the only course on green funeral practices taught in mortuary schools in the US. Webster has published extensively on a wide range of funeral reform topics and green burial-specific how-to guides, many featured in Changing Landscapes: Exploring the growth of ethical, compassionate and environmentally sustainable green funeral service. Her latest collaborative book, The Future of the Corpse: Our Changing Places and Perceptions of the Dead and Mourning, which was released in the fall of 2021.