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.