A professor at Loyola Marymount University is using art to promote social justice throughout her classes. Saeri Cho Dobson, associate professor of graphic design, teaches her students that graphic design is a medium that has the opportunity to persuade its viewers. When Cho came to LMU she was inspired by their Jesuit mission of promoting social justice so she began to partner with the Center for Service and Action which connected her with nonprofits in Los Angeles.
Cho centered her design entrepreneurship class on a final student project that incorporated social justice work. She explained how a group of her students “worked with the Lamp Community in downtown Los Angeles, which has art and music programs for homeless people. The students developed a project to design a portable, solar-paneled cell-phone charger for homeless people, who aren’t always welcome in cafes or restaurants as a place to charge their phone.” Cho hopes that her students learn they can foster community and a commitment to social justice through their designs.
The Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies at the University of San Diego is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its founding by looking at how to further achieve their mission of peace and justice. Recently, five members within the Kroc School gave a “TED-style talk” at the USD Institute for Peace and Justice inaugural innovators event. The talk sought to inspire hope, engage in discussion, and “provide the audience with an understanding that making the world a better place requires everybody’s contribution.”
Ev Meade, director of the Trans-Border Institute, gave a talk that examined the U.S.-Mexico border and all the complexities that go along with it. He sought to educate and “provide opportunities for people to come together to build connections” in order to better serve those in marginalized situations on the border. Each speaker offered the audience a message of hope, positivity, and encouragement to continue on the mission of peace.
To read more about this event hosted by the Kroc School visit, USD news.
Spring has almost sprung! With the first day of spring and the celebration of Easter just around the corner, the time for renewal and revival is upon us. As the academic year comes to a close, it’s also a great time to take stock of all the peace and justice initiatives your campus has participated in over the course of the year. But just because the year will soon end, those efforts don’t need to stop. Catholic colleges and universities across the nation are finding interesting ways to maintain momentum and keep their work moving forward.
In Iowa, St. Ambrose University is committed to fostering interest in service and justice on campus. One of its ministries is Ambrose Women for Social Justice, which seeks to identify and assess the ways that injustice affects women and men and devise interdisciplinary solutions that are responsive and sensitive to both genders. The female-led student group was created in recognition of women’s need to be more involved in issues that touch their lives. For 14 years, the group has hosted the Women for Social Justice Conference, an annual lecture series to highlight important social and economic justice issues affecting women and girls. Katy A. Strzepek, director of women and gender studies at St. Ambrose, said much of the conference’s success lies in its Catholic identity by showing how students “can enact Catholic Social Teaching, most particularly by standing in solidarity and asking what they can do to help.” She advised students to remember that “no one is voiceless and to go to the uncomfortable places … to foster fruitful and honest dialogue.”
Last year, the conference focused on how gender affects globalization and what students can do to advocate for better policies. Keynote speaker Catherine Tactaquin, co-founder and executive director of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, discussed the effects of migration by describing how immigrant and refugee women are often forced to leave their families and work abroad to be able to send wages to their families back home.
Saint Louis University is another Catholic institution that values continual engagement with the world and advocating for global change. Students at the Jesuit university attended the 20thIgnatian Family Teach-In for Justice gathering in November, to learn, reflect, pray, network, and advocate for solidarity and social justice issues. Members of the Jesuit body around the country meet annually to be supported by a like-minded community linked by faith and justice. The gathering also gives them an opportunity each year to honor their Jesuit companions who were martyred in El Salvador in 1989. Last fall, the conference focused on pushing students out of their comfort zones to heed the call that Pope Francis described as the “fire, the fervor in action, awakening those who have become dormant.” Students were encouraged to return to campus with a newfound passion to make a difference in the world and not to accept the status quo. They were urged to participate in the next Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill in February by sharing what they had learned with their elected officials and asking for more just policies. To watch speakers and plenaries from the conference, visit the Ignatian Solidarity Network. And be sure to mark your calendars for the 2018 Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice, which will be held November 3-5, in Washington, DC.
SAnother annual occurrence that helps Catholic colleges keep their fervor going is the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering -Young Leaders Initiative in Washington, DC. In February, students from 24 Catholic colleges and universities attended the gathering, with the theme, “Building Community: A Call to the Common Good,” which stressed the significance of acting in solidarity with our marginalized brothers and sisters at home and abroad.
The four-day youth conference was an “opportunity for U.S. leaders in Catholic social action to network, advocate for social justice, and form emerging leaders in service to the Church and society,” according to the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops, which organized the event. Topics ranged from how climate change is affecting those in the Amazon, to the history of racism in the Catholic Church and how to combat it today.
About 500 people participated, with more than 100 college and university students in attendance. The students expressed gratitude for having the opportunity to be empowered to bring change back to their campuses. Senior theology student at CUA Julia VanConas observed, “Having the opportunity to listen and discuss issues with my peers on topics ranging from immigration to environmental justice, gave me space to develop a greater desire to advocate and bring what I learned back to campus.” Catholic colleges and universities are continuously discovering ways to reinvigorate their campus communities with fresh peace and justice initiatives because it spurs action. Students are investing time in conferences that emphasize peer-to-peer collaboration, keeping abreast of topical issues, and obtaining the necessary tools and resources for advocacy so that they return to campus ready to share the knowledge and make a difference. As the academic year comes to an end and spring begins, this rebirth period offers an opportunity for fruitful examination of what you can do on your campus to revive those around you and advance the work of peace and justice for everyone.
During the fall semester, Lourdes University Department of Education took strides on educating students and the local community on how to best serve students experiencing homelessness. The Department of Education presented “Homelessness: Approaches to Support Students in an Educational Setting.” This event was designed specifically by education majors who sought support and expertise on how to serve future students they may have in their classroom who are experiencing homelessness. The event was sparked by recent findings that “report the Toledo public school system has more students experiencing homelessness than any other district in the state.” Majors brought in expert panelists from Toledo Public Schools, Family House, Leading Families Home, and the Toledo Lucas County Homelessness Board who addressed teachers and social workers.
The discussion was “aimed to educate individuals and the general public about homelessness and, more importantly, provide valuable insight about support available for elementary and high school students who are struggling with homelessness while pursuing their education.”
The Cassandra Voss Center (CVC) at St. Norbert College recently received a $5,000 grant from Campus Compact’s Fund for Positive Engagement for the 2017-2018 academic year. The grant is meant to help the CVC in “piloting a new initiative called the Olive Branch Initiative, aiming to bring the community together to share stories from, and engage with, different perspectives.”
St. Norbert was selected from a pool of more than 300 grant applicants, making St. Norbert’s selection even more honorable. Applicants were assessed by the following criteria: “the project must engage with divergent or unfamiliar perspectives to foster empathy and understanding; the project must develop positive relationships across differences to lift up our common humanity; and the project must engage in collaborative problem-solving to strengthen social times and civic vitality.” Grant submissions we assessed by how well a project would address the challenge named by the institution and lead to positive change. Congrats to St. Norbert College!
To read more about St. Norbert’s recent grant, click here.
Registration has opened for the 18th Annual Global Youth Justice Program. This year’s Program will be from January 23-25, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Global Youth Justice, Inc. “champions volunteer-driven strategies and low-cost innovations which alleviate some of the world’s more pressing and costly societal problems. Global Youth Justice strives to improve the quality of life for humans through reducing high juvenile crime rates and historic-high incarceration rates of adults locally and globally.”
This three day program “will harness positive peer pressure and utilize it in a peer judgement setting to help address the anti-social, delinquent, and criminal behavior of youthful offenders.” If this is a program you would like to attend, more information can be found on the Global Youth Justice, Inc. webpage.
In 2016, I had the opportunity to take a group of students to the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering, in Washington, D.C. Together we were inspired by each conference session and grew in a deeper appreciation for the mission and work of the Church. In many ways, our knowledge of Catholic Social Teaching was able to grow in new and meaningful ways because of the conference. As we journeyed home at the end of the conference, my students expressed that being able to end such a powerful experience by lobbying at Capitol Hill allowed them to understand the vital mission of CSMG while being empowered by it at the same time. My hope is that your campus’s experience with CSMG will be just as powerful.
Minister for Formation and Enrichment
St. Mary’s University, San Antonio, TX
Diversity Scholarships Now Available!
Participants in the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering (Feb. 3-6, 2018) who are from under-represented ethnic, racial and disability communities are eligible to apply for funding as part of the Diversity Outreach Initiative. This includes campus staff and students. Both an application and recommendation are required, due Nov. 10. Get more info here.
Join Us at Young Leaders Initiative 2018
We hope to see you as part of the Young Leaders Initiative at Catholic Social Ministry Gathering 2018 on Feb. 3-6 in Washington, DC. The theme for the Gathering is: “Building Community: A Call to the Common Good.” In recent years, almost 40 colleges and universities have joined Catholic leaders from around the country at the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering, sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and 16 other national organizations. We hope you will join us in 2018!
Through the Young Leaders Initiative, college students participate in the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in order to:
Meet national Catholic social ministry and advocacy leaders
Build knowledge of current Catholic social ministry priorities and initiatives.
Develop advocacy skills to empower students to call for positive change.
Voice concerns with legislators on issues of human life and dignity in the U.S. and internationally.
Grow in faith, studies, and future work through Catholic social ministry and advocacy.
The College of St. Scholastica is in the midst of their annual Peace & Justice Series. From September 2017 to March 2018, St. Scholastica will be hosting a variety of lectures focusing on sustainable living. The first lecture was given by Andrew Revkin, current reporter at ProPublica and former reporter at The New York Times. His lecture was titled “Ending Life as We Knew It” and spoke about the “destruction of the Amazon rain forest, sustainable development, and climate change, particularly as it affects the North Pole environment.” The rest of this year’s Alworth Center for Peace and Justice Lecture Series lineup is:
Oct. 24-“The Truth About Nuclear Energy” with Gwyneth Cravens
Nov. 9-“Economic Growth Still Matters” with Bob Hoffman
Feb. 8-“Shifting to Solar and Wind Power” with Janet Larsen
Mar. 20-“Enviromental Stewardship as a Personal Calling” with Andrew Hoffman
For more information about St. Scholastica’s Peace & Justice Series, click here.
In a world that is constantly moving and chaotic it is hard for one to simply be still and imagine a peaceful, positive world. The University of San Diego recognized that struggle and wanted to find a way for members of the university to engage with peace in a new way. The Joan B. Kroc Institute of Peace and Justice had a desire to “celebrate peace and justice and to invite everyone, students and the community, to jump in and interact with the art.” That led to the Kroc School commissioning interactive mural artist, Kelsey Montague, to create a piece that is able to transport the viewer into a new frame of mind.
Patricia Marquez, the dean of the Kroc School of Peace Studies said that “the current state of the world poses a collective challenge and an obligation to intensify our thinking and inspire action to shape a better world. This piece is part of our vision to prepare students. To transform out societies, learning needs to engage all senses and should happen inside and outside of the classroom. The wall is meant to enhance the learning experience. The hope is that the students will graduate and leave inspired to lead effective change making endeavors across a variety of sectors and organization types.”
You can find more of Montague’s interactive pieces on her Instagram @KelseyMontagueArt or search the hashtag that accompanies all her pieces, #whatliftsyou. The full article can be found here. Photo courtesy of Renata Berto.