Gonzaga University Students Serve across the Country

80 Gonzaga University students traveled to places across the country, as they do every spring, to serve others at nonprofit organizations through Gonzaga’s “Mission: Possible” program. “Mission: Possible” is a “program started in the late 1990s and sponsored by the University’s Center for Community Engagement, focused on student-learning and community impact.” Most college students spend their break relaxing from school work in warmer climates, but these 80 students had a desire to serve that took them across the country.

During these week long projects students worked at a large variety of places doing a variety of tasks. Some of these service sites include refugee resettlement centers, homeless shelters, working to help those affected by incarceration, and a variety of others. “Mission: Possible” has been a staple in the Gonzaga community for a number of years and it is evident that students continue to enjoy this opportunity to serve.

To read more about “Mission: Possible,” visit Gonzaga news.

Catholic Colleges Host Events in Solidarity with Immigrants

Twelve Catholic colleges and universities hosted events in solidarity with immigrant brothers and sisters on January 19, as a part of the Ignatian Solidarity Network‘s call to prayer, Prayers of Light.

Saint Peter’s University hosted a prayer service featuring a student choir and students sharing their experience of being undocumented. The service ended with an opportunity to contact Congress on behalf of humane immigration policies.

Students at Loyola University Maryland held a walking candlelight vigil during the busy lunch hour at the campus student center.

Other colleges and universities that held events for the day of prayer include: Fairfield University, Xavier University, John Carroll University, Canisius College, Loyola University of Chicago, Marquette University, Saint Louis University, Gonzaga University, University of San Francisco, and Spring Hill College.

The purpose of the call to prayer was to illuminate, through solidarity and action, the dignity of our immigrant brothers and sisters, and the value of each person’s contribution to our country.  To see prayers and resources related to the event, visit the Ignatian Solidarity Network website.

How are you practicing solidarity on your campus? Share your story with us! Email Lexie Bradley.

Catholic Colleges Honored by President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll

Georgetown University won the White House’s Interfaith Community Service Award in the 2015 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, an honor that recognizes institutions of higher education that support exemplary community service programs and raise the visibility of effective practices in campus community partnerships. The Honor Roll’s Presidential Award is the highest federal recognition an institution can receive for its commitment to community, service-learning, and civic engagement. The award recognizes the work of three organizations at Georgetown, the Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching, and Service (CSJ), the Office of Campus Ministry, and the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs.

Gonzaga University was also honored as a finalist by the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for their commitment to improving educational outcomes for children and youth. Of the over 776 higher education institutions named to the Honor Roll, only 16 were named finalists.  Gonzaga is recognized for their service addressing school readiness, strengthening schools, boost high school graduation rates and preparation for higher education.

Congratulations to Georgetown University and Gonzaga University for their work in community service!

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!

Laudato Si’ Makes an Impact in Jesuit Higher Education

The upcoming one-year anniversary of the release of Laudato Si’ has inspired reflection on the impacts it has had on Catholics around the world, especially institutions of Catholic higher education. In the April 2016 issue of Connections, the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities’ (AJCU) monthly  newsletter, several institutions were featured as having responded to the encyclical with fervor:

  • Laudato Si’ was a “Game-Changer” for Creighton University, where professors of theology, biology, environmental science, cultural and social studies, and communication studies, and sustainability studies have experienced renewed interest and and energy in their studies and coursework.
  • Gonzaga University has taken a “Multidisciplinary Approach” to responding to the encyclical with “deep academic engagement around Catholic social teaching,” encyclical reading groups, inter-departmental panel discussions, lectures, documentary film screenings, and a renewed commitment to sustainability on campus.
  • Food justice and social justice have been major themes for Loyola University Chicago‘s response to Laudato Si’, as well as “eco-education” through conferences focused on poverty and climate justice, lectures, and assisting in the development of a new free online environmental textbook.
  • Marquette University has made a renewed commitment to “Going Green” through participating in research at the Global Water Center in Milwaukee, the hiring of the University’s first sustainability coordinator, assisting in the development of the above-mentioned textbook, the LEED certification of two campus buildings, and the focusing of Mission Week on care for creation and sustainability.
  • A reflection on the call to promote and fight for environmental justice, as inspired by Laudato Si’, written by Clint J. Springer,  associate professor of biology at St. Joseph’s University.
  • Santa Clara University has taken the encyclical as a “Charter Document” for its “commitment to climate justice,” as evidenced by the visit of Peter Cardinal Turkson for a conference on climate change, reading groups, the visit of Carolyn Woo of Catholic Relief Services, academic integration of the encyclical, Ignatian reflection, and more.

These institutions of Jesuit higher education are just a few examples of the Catholic response to Laudato Si’.   How has your college or university responded to Laudato Si’? Let us know! 

Catholic Colleges Make List of US Eco-friendly Schools

Wondering how your campus measures up in sustainability and energy conservation? Perhaps your school was one of the eleven Catholic colleges and universities featured in a recent Sierra Club ranking of the top ‘cool schools’!

To determine the rankings, the Sierra Club administered a survey to a wide range of higher education institutions in the U.S. The responding schools were then ranked according to a long list of criteria, including co-curricular activities, energy, investments, innovation, academics, and more:

Depending on their responses to the questionnaire, schools were then given a score in a 1000 point system and ranked accordingly. The eleven Catholic colleges ranked included:

  1. Santa Clara University (no. 50)
  2. University of San Diego (no. 69)
  3. Loyola Marymount University (no. 81)
  4. Aquinas College (no. 95)
  5. St. Louis University ( no. 100)
  6. St. John’s University (NY) (no. 102)
  7. Gonzaga University (no. 109)
  8. Villanova University  (no. 110)
  9. University of Dayton (no. 127)
  10. Creighton University (no. 138)
  11. Saint John’s University (MN) (no. 146)

Based on the criteria for the rankings, these eleven schools are officially ‘cool schools’! The Sierra Club reminds us that it is both important to celebrate success but remember that there is more work to be done:

“Our results  suggest that while many universities are making admirable progress, no school has yet attained complete sustainability. In 2015, the top-rated university scored 859.75 out of a possible 1,000 points, indicating much work completed but also room for improvement.”

Want to learn more?  A recent National Catholic Reporter article featured some such progress at the Catholic colleges and universities on the list.

What is your campus doing to promote sustainability and environmental justice? Let us know!