Reflecting on World Oceans Day

Today, June 8, is World Oceans Day, founded in 2002 to celebrate, honor, help protect and conserve the oceans. Events in honor of World Oceans Day will occur across the globe.  For some, this holiday prompts reflection on the issues related to oceans, such as sustainability and human trafficking practices in the seafood industry.

Over the past two years, the Coalition of Catholic Organizations Against Human Trafficking has coordinated advocacy efforts to encourage seafood companies to eradicate human trafficking practices.  In 2016, the Coalition sponsored a postcard campaign, while in 2017 they focused on encouraging seafood companies who are cleaning up their supply chains to label their products.  Read more about this year’s project on their website.

In honor of World Oceans Day, Fair Trade USA has launched a campaign encouraging consumers to purchase seafood that is produced in an environmentally and socially responsible way.  Launched in 2014, their certification of seafood products allows consumers to make purchases that have been shown to meet rigorous standards for workers in the fishing industry.  Learn more about their work on their website.

How will your campus celebrate and reflect on World Oceans Day?  Let us know!

 

Take Action in Support of Refugees

In response to the executive order by the President of the United States, many Catholic organizations have recommended actions to take to support refugees.  Justice for Immigrants, a network of Catholic institutions working to support immigration reform, issued an action alert to contact Congress and the President to support refugees with a more robust resettlement plan. JFI provides a simple form that will automatically send a pre-written letter to House Representatives, Senators, and the President.

Catholic Relief Services has shared a helpful article with answers to common questions they have received about refugees.  Previously, CRS has also shared many ways to take action to help Syrian refugees on their website, along with other educational resources related to refugees.

Ignatian Solidarity Network shared the “6-minute challenge” to call representatives and then challenge friends to do the same on social media. They also hosted a webinar on understanding the Executive Order on immigrants and refugees, featuring policy experts from the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States and Jesuit Refugee Service USA.

Catholic Colleges and Universities Raise Awareness During Hunger and Homelessness Week

Catholic colleges and universities across the nation observed National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, November 15-21, 2016. The week, began by Villanova University in 1975, has since spread to over 700 campuses and communities, becoming the most widely organized hunger and homelessness event of its type nationwide.  Here are some examples from Catholic colleges:

Villanova University organized a food drive, a solidarity sleepout, and interfaith vigils on the issue of hunger and homelessness.

At Assumption College, Social Justice Ambassadors assembled “Helping Hands” bags to distribute to individuals on the street, encouraged students in the dining hall to eat what a typical meal would be at a soup kitchen, and also held a solidarity sleepout.

Saint John’s University campus ministry sponsored many events including a poverty simulation, a benefit concert, and a service opportunity as part of the week.

The Catholic University of America hosted a number of events such as a hunger banquet, a way of the cross prayer service focused on migration, and a speaker event with local advocate for those who are homeless.

These Catholic colleges and universities, and many others, are reflecting on the Catholic Social Teaching, the option for the poor and vulnerable, creatively tackling direct engagement and awareness in the issues of hunger and homelessness.

Did your campus observe Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week? Share it with us! Email Lexie Bradley.

 

 

Fairfield University Students Advocate for Human Rights in Iran

At Fairfield University, students in the course Politics of Humanitarian Action, taught by Dr. Janie Leatherman, partnered with Scholars at Risk (SAR), an international network of higher education institutions and associations dedicated to protecting scholars and promoting academic freedom around the world, to advocate for human rights in Iran. Specifically, the students worked on the case of Dr. Mohammad Hossein Rafiee, a retired Iranian chemistry professor imprisoned in Tehran since June 2015. According to verdict records, Rafiee, who had a history of social and peace activism, was arrested without warrant and sentenced to five years in prison for “spreading propaganda against the system by giving interviews to media who are against the state.” Fairfield students traveled to New York City to meet with the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights on Iran, and subsequently visited the United Nations. The students wrote a 50-page background report for SAR on Dr. Rafiee’s case and avenues for advocacy in relation to several key stakeholders.

In September 2016, Dr. Rafiee was released on medical furlough due to poor health and was allowed to recuperate at home, without guards.

“SAR is so grateful to Professor Leatherman and her students for their research and advocacy on this case,” said Clare Farne Robinson, Scholars at Risk Advocacy Director. “Their efforts were instrumental in moving Dr. Rafiee’s case forward, and specifically led to inclusion of Professor Rafiee in a recent report by UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran. But beyond that, and perhaps most important, they provided much-needed hope to his family.”

Working for human rights reflects Fairfield’s Catholic commitment to defending the dignity of the human person. The course, Politics of Humanitarian Action, provides a way to enact this commitment and serves as the launch course of a new minor in Humanitarian Action. The minor, as envisioned, provides opportunities to students for service learning and experiential learning, connecting theory learned in the classroom with the realities of the world.  Read more about the Fairfield students’ work here.