Marygrove College Begins Program Focused on Restorative Justice

Marygrove College is beginning an online Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice degree, a program with a restorative justice emphasis designed for current or aspiring criminal justice professionals.

“In this time of crisis, where there is distrust between law enforcement and the community,” said Marygrove College Provost Dr. Sally Welch, “our institution is prepared to help bring about peace and reconciliation through its online Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice based on Restorative Justice principles.”

Restorative justice is a victim-centered response to crime that views criminal behavior not as a violation against the state, but one against people and relationships. It is an alternative to retributive justice, “an eye for an eye”.  As a result, those who practice restorative justice respond to crime by transforming the traditional relationship between communities and government, giving all stakeholders—both the victim and perpetrator—the opportunity to identify and take steps to redeem their broken situation.

To learn more about restorative justice, visit the Catholic Mobilizing Network website.

Food for Thought Friday: Archbishop Gomez on Immigration

Food for Thought Friday: Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez spoke at Boston College on immigration last month. He stressed the need to remember the people amid the statistics. Amid considerations on immigration policies, the Archbishop pointed out how “it’s also important to remember that behind every “statistic” is a soul — a soul who has dignity as a child of God, a soul who has rights and needs that are both spiritual and material.”

Read the full remarks here.

Catholic Colleges Featured on Sierra Club’s Cool School’s List

Ten Catholic colleges and universities were featured as 2016 Cool Schools in Sierra Magazine. This list measures colleges in their sustainability efforts in energy, investments, co-curricular, food, innovation, academics, planning, purchasing, transport, waste, and water. Colleges reported their programs and initiatives through the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS), a program of The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).

Schools included are Loyola University of Chicago (featured in the Top 20 Cool Schools), Aquinas College, Creighton University, Gonzaga University, Loyola Marymount University, Saint Louis University, Santa Clara University, Seattle University, St. John’s University, and Villanova University.

Congratulations to the colleges on their sustainability initiatives!

Stewards of Creation on Campus: Catholic Colleges Address Climate Change

In the year since Pope Francis released his encyclical on care for the environment, Laudato Si’, many Catholics have taken seriously the message to be better stewards of the earth.  Pope Francis encourages a connection between environmental concerns and issues of justice, noting that the issue of climate change involves hearing “both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” (Laudato Si’, no. 49). Catholic colleges are addressing this dual call in many ways, incorporating the theme of environmental justice into classes, study abroad opportunities, and campus events.

Earlier this year, the University of St. Thomas (UST), began a three-part program incorporating environmental justice into a freshman symposium class, local service-learning efforts, and study abroad program in Costa Rica.  The projects were funded by the Global Solidarity Grant program, a collaboration between Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities and Catholic Relief Services, which awards grants to colleges and universities as a way of increasing awareness of global injustice and expanding student involvement in a faith that does justice. In the UST freshman symposium, Sister Damien Marie Savino, chair of the Environmental Studies program at UST, recently gave a guest lecture and led a discussion on Catholic Social Teaching, climate change, and sustainability efforts on campus and in the local community.

In addition to classroom learning and discussion, students served at Plant-It-Forward, a local community farm-share that partners with refugees to provide fresh local produce to the Houston area. Additionally, the UST sustainability committee hosted a sustainability dinner for the students in the seminar with a farm-to-table meal, along with a discussion on how to improve sustainability efforts on campus.

UST students in Costa Rica

The final part of the expansive program was a service trip to Costa Rica where students worked with a small coffee-producing community. While serving in Costa Rica, students connected their knowledge of climate change from the seminar and experience in the local community to a global perspective. The students were moved by the relationships built across cultures that helped them shape their understanding of care for creation. They also reported that their lives were changed by meeting the people in Costa Rica and experiencing a culture that is so intertwined with the environment. One first-year student, Elena Dang, said she learned that “a huge difference in lifestyles between the USA and Costa Rica is the respect for Mother Nature. Children walk the streets, people sit outside, many restaurants have outside seating. There’s a sense of respect and veneration for nature because of how it provides so much for everyone.”

UST plans to continue this program so that service learning will flourish as a foundation of a UST education.

In another project funded by the Global Solidarity Grant program, students at Cabrini University organized a climate change simulation that focused on the effects of climate change on the poor and vulnerable, called “Tame the Change.” The simulation was led by students in a class called “Our Interdependent World,” a part of the Engagements with the Common Good core curriculum and taught by Jerome Zurek, in collaboration with the Wolfington Center, the center for community engagement and research at Cabrini, Catholic Relief Services ambassadors, the university communications department, and Cabrini Mission Corps. “Tame the Change” started as a topic study on how climate change is not only affecting the environment but also harming vulnerable people who lack the resources to safeguard themselves against the negative outcomes of environmental changes. The simulation modeled how climate change has a greater effect on the poor who rely on the land for their livelihood. In the simulation, students were put into pairs, where one was assigned to a developed country and one to a developing country, to represent the effect of daily decisions of those in developed countries on those living in developing countries.  At various stations, participants were presented with everyday choices they typically face on campus, involving food waste, plastic water bottle use, and energy use by electronics. Every choice that the person in the developed country made affected the other to indicate the interconnectedness of people across the globe. At the conclusion of the event, each of the over 200 participants were given reflection booklets based on passages from Laudato Si’ to help them reflect upon what they had learned during the event.

Students at Cabrini University participate in “Tame the Change”

“Tame the Change” promoted solidarity with those who are strongly affected by climate change. As the class ended, students expanded the project to share it with more of the campus. To conclude the project, students built a website that enables other student groups to facilitate events similar to “Tame the Change.”

Tom Southard, the director of the Wolfington Center, noted that the event has resulted in a renewed commitment among Cabrini students and faculty members to combat climate change. Student groups are looking to facilitate more programs with an environmental focus and faculty members are shifting their research to include the sociology and science behind climate change.

Another example of encouraging students to thinking critically about care for the environment is Loyola University of Chicago’s third annual Climate Change Conference. The conference, hosted by the Institute of Environmental Sustainability, was titled “Global Climate Change: Challenges and Economic Solutions,” and focused on the effects of climate change on the global economy. During the conference, students in the Dance Theatre and University Chorale performed Earth Song, a song composed by Frank Ticheli, to highlight the connection between human actions and the environment. The performance reflected on and celebrated climate change initiatives, bringing the conversation into the realm of the arts. The students aimed to convey meaning through art, as a language that can be understood on multiple levels. Emily Miller, a first-year student in the University Chorale, commented that she hoped the performance would “appeal to the emotions of those who attend” the conference. A video of the performance is available on the conference website. This interdisciplinary approach to the issue of climate change enables Loyola University to engage students, faculty, and staff in a dialogue to effect change.

Through the classroom, student programs, and university events, Catholic universities are addressing the environmental crisis in a variety of creative projects. These colleges and universities embody Pope Francis’s call to care for our common home as stewards of creation, hearing both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.

Camilla MacKenzie is an undergraduate student at The Catholic University of America and the Peace and Justice Intern at the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities.

Catholic Relief Services Introduces New Faculty Learning Commons

The CRS Faculty Learning Commons (FLC) is an online learning community and curricular resource that highlights the latest strategies for global relief and development with special emphasis on the application of CRS’ justice lens and opportunities for building global solidarity.  This fall, the CRS Faculty Learning Commons will offer four distinct academic modules under the theme of Peacebuilding.

For ease of use, the material is broken down into four interrelated modules, described below.  The resources can be used by a variety of disciplines, and you are free to select from the modules to support your specific course needs.  You will find videos, short articles, book excerpts, discussion guides, and course learning objectives. To access and use the material, however, CRS asks that you simply sign up

Fall 2016 Peacebuilding Modules:


Age-old debates over just war and pacifism are well known.  What is less well known and understood is the Church’s role in conflict prevention, conflict mitigation and post-violence reconciliation.  From Colombia to South Sudan, the Catholic community, including Catholic Relief Services (CRS), is working with other religious actors and the wider civil society to promote peace amidst some of the world’s most intractable conflicts.   This session provides an overview of the Church’s role, considering it in the context of Catholic social teaching and a strategic approach to peacebuilding, with special attention to the peacebuilding work of CRS.


Since the end of the Cold War, there has been a growing appreciation of the critical role of civil society actors in people-to-people peacebuilding, and in directly and indirectly supporting formal and informal peace processes.  Increasingly, active engagement by civil society actors (Track 2 and Track 3 diplomacy) is considered an important factor in addressing the fact that half of peace settlements fail within five years.  In many countries embroiled in conflict, the Catholic Church is a leading civil society actor.  In South Sudan and Colombia, the churches often play an indirect role, organizing local, regional and national peace processes for civil society that complement official peace processes.

AFTER THE PEACE ACCORD: Transitional Justice and Reconciliation

When wars end, some of the most difficult challenges of peacebuilding begin.  The Church has played a role in formal Truth and Reconciliation Commissions in South Africa, South Sudan, Guatemala, Burundi, and other places.  These formal processes often involve painful moral dilemmas, pitting legitimate demands for justice and accountability against the practical demands for amnesties and calls for forgiveness.  While governments often speak of reconciliation, defined narrowly as political accommodation, the Church promotes a much deeper and fuller understanding of political, communal, and personal reconciliation.  Moreover, reconciliation is not just or mostly a matter of formal post-war processes; it is an integral component of preventing and mitigating violent conflicts.

Inter-religious Dialogue and Action

Inter-religious dialogue and peacebuilding are often seen, by religious and secular actors, as the natural antidote to religious violence or identity conflicts with a religious dimension.  Interreligious peacebuilding can also be indispensable in conflicts where religious differences are not at issue in the conflict, as with the Lord’s Resistance Army in northern Uganda.  The goals of interreligious peacebuilding depend on the nature of the conflict and one’s theory of change.  They range from (1) repairing and/or deepening relationships, (2) improving mutual understanding, (3) finding common ground on beliefs and issues, (4) promoting common action, and/or (4) encouraging complementary action for peace and justice.  In some cases, the most effective work of inter-religious peacebuilding is done alone within one’s own faith community.