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.

Enter Fairtrade America’s Essay Contest

Are you a current college or university student who believes in the importance of fair trade?  If so, consider entering Fairtrade America’s back-to-school essay contest.

The judges of the contest will be Rick Peyster of Lutheran World Relief, Margarot Conover from Fairtrade America, and Suzi Hiza from Fair Trade Campaigns.  Winners’ essays will be published on Fair Trade Blog site, and the grand prize winner will have a chance to interview Rick Peyster for the blog.  Don’t delay – essays are due by September 15!

Fordham Becomes Latest Catholic Fair Trade University

The Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities extends its congratulations to Fordham University for being the latest Catholic university to be designated a Fair Trade University! Fordham students have worked hard to create Students for Fair Trade (SFT), the official fair trade student organization at Fordham, and to incorporate fair trade products into daily life at the university.

SFT is a student-run club that promotes fair trade in business and consumption through education and advocacy. Through SFT, Fordham has been able not only to sell fair trade products at almost all of their restaurants and bookstores, but also to host employees of Alta Gracia, the only garment company in the global south to be certified for paying its workers a living wage.

Congratulations to Fordham for their great work in promoting fair trade!

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! 

Ford Foundation Study Shows Link Between Higher Education and Social Justice

The Ford Foundation, a secular philanthropic organization that seeks to promote the full human dignity of all persons through equitable sharing in knowledge, wealth, and resources, recently released a report studying the impact of their International Fellowship Program, finding that many of the IFP alumni returned to their home countries to either begin a new social justice program organization or expand upon the work of existing organizations.

In the report, entitled Social Justice and Sustainable Change: The Impacts of Higher Education, the Foundation shows their findings from their 2015 International Fellowships Program Alumni Tracking Study Report. The International Fellowships Program (IFP) supported “advanced studies for social change leaders from the worlds’ most vulnerable populations” through scholarships for higher education, offering fellowships to students from 2001 – 2013.  Some of these students studied at Catholic higher education institutions, including Boston College and Georgetown University.

Read more about the key findings here.

What does your college or university do to increase access to higher education and social justice around the world? Let us know! 

CCOAHT Launches Lenten Postcard Campaign

During Lent, Catholics are called to abstain from consuming meat on Fridays to be in greater solidarity with those in need, leading many to eat more fish throughout the season. This year, the Coalition of Catholic Organizations Against Human Trafficking (CCOAHT) has started a campaign to call for the end of exploitative labor in seafood harvest and production.

CCOAHT’s Lenten Postcard Campaign is an easy way to get involved with anti-human trafficking efforts this Lent.  The campaign was launched in an effort to encourage “greater vigilance on the part of our suppliers to ensure that the seafood we eat is not tainted by slave labor.” The postcards, ask that seafood suppliers “do all in their power to guarantee that their supply chains are free of forced labor.” The two suppliers CCOAHT has chosen to target are Costco and StarKist.

Anyone can download the postcard to Costco here, and the postcard to StarKist here. To have printed and stamped postcards sent to your parish, school, or social justice ministry please contact CCOAHT at cljunquist@usccb.org.

How is your college or university engaging with anti-human trafficking efforts? Let us know!