Stonehill College recently hosted kids from the Boys & Girls Club of Brockton (BGCB) in order to give them a unique experience. BGCB seeks to “fire the imaginations of young men and women, exposing them to a range of educational and career opportunities while encouraging them to shoot for the moon.” As part of Stonehill’s recent college-access initiative, the two joined forces to provide new opportunities for high school students. Ten students from BGCB were chosen to spend the day immersed in Stonehill campus life and experiences. The students were able to attend an Admission session, learn about the application process, eat in the Dining Commons, and visit the library.
One of the main attractions of the day for the students was being able to attend a mock business class hosted by one of the business professors. This class “opened the eyes to the business person in each of the students, and let them explore case studies and enter into dialogue.” One student notes how this experience allowed him to see the independence one experiences in college and learn what is necessary to thrive.
To read more about Stonehill’s partnership with the Boys and Girls Club, visit Stonehill news.
Students from Stonehill College are partnering with innovative programs to help those dealing with Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia. 16 Stonehill students volunteer at Soundtrack of Life, which is a habilitation program for patients with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Students receive “four hours of training from the medical staff on how to work with patients with diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia, which destroy memory and other mental functions.”
Volunteers have the ability to work with patients and staff to create custom playlists for each patient. As patients listen to music for thirty minutes to an hour, students record any behavioral changes they notice. They have found that music has such a positive impact on patients, including a more positive mood and better communication skills. Lisa Redpath, associate professor of music, notes how “we’re giving the patient the opportunity and ability to tap into the brain’s elasticity, through musical memories, to recall things. Which is a gift.”
To read more about Stonehill’s unique partnership, visit Stonehill news.
It has been a little over two years since Pope Francis released his encyclical Laudato Si’, “Care for Our Common Home,” which urges Catholics to follow in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi as he “invites us to see nature as a magnificent book in which God speaks to us and grants us a glimpse of his infinite beauty and goodness.” October 4-the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi, presents the perfect opportunity to reflect on our call to care for our common home.
One of the ways in which care for the Earth manifests itself is through our dependence upon it for nourishment and growth. Since the release of Laudato Si’, Catholics across the world have responded by making changes that positively affect the world around them. Progress has been made but, according to World Hunger one in every eight people worldwide remain undernourished, leading to the death of about 3.1 million children annually. Catholic colleges and universities are responding to this issue and the call from Pope Francis by creating initiatives that promote food justice and sustainability in their local communities.
Stonehill College has been responding to the food crisis in its local neighborhood since 2011. Stonehill recognized that the neighboring city of Brockton, Massachusetts lacked access to fresh produce due to several social, economic, and geographic barriers. The Farm at Stonehill came about as a solution to this issue. The two-part mission of the Farm is: “to make available, fresh, nutritious, locally grown food to Brockton-area food pantries and meal providers to address food desert conditions, and to enrich Stonehill students’ academic and service endeavors by educating and actively engaging them in local and global food justice issues.”
Most recently, the Farm at Stonehill launched its Mobile Market. Using a $10,000 grant from the Vela Foundation, a $5,000 grant from Project Bread, and a $1,250 grant from Inner Sparks Foundation, the Farm is able to sell organic produce at or below market cost in the parking lot near the Brockton community center. Bridget Meigs, the Farm manager, says “A partnership with Project Bread specifically is exciting because we share their vision of implementing both immediate and long-term solutions to food access issues in Massachusetts. Together, we are taking steps to have a significant impact on food accessibility and personal empowerment for a diverse community of people seeking to make healthier choices for themselves and their families.”
One of the goals of the Mobile Market is for Brockton residents who do not live near a grocery store to easily access healthful food options. The Mobile Market also partners with other organizations in order to increase general wellness in the community by offering cooking demonstrations, providing recipes and nutritional information, and focusing on the relationship between healthful eating and the dignity of the human person.
Another Catholic university that has dedicated time and resources to addressing food justice and food sustainability issues is Walsh University. Walsh is incorporating these themes into its course curriculum by partnering with local Canton, Ohio non-profits on various service-learning projects. According to the university, service-learning enables students [to] learn and develop through active participation in thoughtfully organized service that meets actual community needs, is integrated into the students’ academic curriculum, and that fosters civic engagement and person development through structured reflection. Several business, English, and leadership courses partner with local non-profit StarkFresh and aid in its mission “to help break the cycle of poverty by increasing people’s consumption of fresh, locally-sourced foods through equal food access and educational opportunities for everyone.”
Abigail Poeske, the director of service-learning at Walsh University, explains how an English course titled “Professional Writing” and a business course titled “Global Information Systems” collaborated to create new marketing and outreach materials for StarkFresh. StarkFresh came to class to speak about its mission and what the organization is looking for in terms of new marketing tools, she says. In addition, students received a tour of StarkFresh and its urban teaching farm. From there, students broke off into groups to create marketing and outreach tools designed specifically for StarkFresh. Poeske adds that working with StarkFresh has helped make “students aware of the issue of food insecurity globally, locally, and even on campus, and has inspired and empowered students to do something about it.” The work of food justice and food sustainability, she concludes, is part of Walsh’s mission to “educate leaders in service to others through values-based education in the Judeo-Christian tradition.”
Santa Clara University (SCU) is another Catholic institution taking initiative to fight for food justice and community development. The Forge Garden is the university’s organic garden that acts as a hub for sustainable food education. Since the 2008 opening of the Forge Garden, 900 pounds of produce have been harvested and 232 pounds have been sold to SCU Dining Services. The Forge engages the community to promote food justice through a series of workshops, events, and programs. One of the most successful programs is Bronco Urban Gardens (BUG), which is SCU’s food justice outreach program. According to the university, BUG works in “solidarity with marginalized neighborhoods, supporting their urban garden projects and spaces in order to create hands-on learning experiences for students of all ages and backgrounds.” This work is accomplished through partnerships with underserved schools and marginalized communities in Santa Clara County that create engaging learning spaces and inclusive garden-based curricula. Students from SCU volunteer at the schools by hosting garden clubs and workshops for students to increase their knowledge about gardening and healthful eating, delivering fresh produce to schools, and supporting teachers in their goal of providing hands-on lessons. Bronco Urban Gardens gives students the opportunity to show how they can make a difference in their communities and the world by recognizing how what they eat affects their environment.
By focusing on food justice and food sustainability, students as Catholic colleges and universities are living the call “to care for our common home.” These colleges and universities hear both the cry off the earth and the cry of the poor and are responding to this call by putting their faith into action. They embody the mission of Laudato Si’ through their work of helping people receive proper nutrition and educating people on the benefits of locally sourced produce.
Student success is encouraged when students feel welcome and appreciated; simple efforts include offering Mass in Spanish. At Christian Brothers University, the student-led organization Hola CBU has grown from a club into a large organization with an infrastructure that partners with the community to bring Latin cultural events to campus, including Salsa and Bachata Nights. Hola CBU hosts events to expose the campus to Latino culture and create a welcoming Latino community.
Stonehill College’s annual DiverCity Festival is “part celebration, part education,” and features dance, song, fashion, art, and spoken word performances that explore diversity and social issues. Pulling from the talents of the campus community, the DiverCity Festival supports the many students who work to promote a more just and compassionate community.
Over the next few weeks, we will release short examples of diversity at Catholic institutions of higher education as part of a series called “Inclusion on Campus”. Stay tuned to hear how Catholic institutions are promoting diversity as an expression of God’s grandeur!
Earlier today, Pope Francis released his long-awaited encyclical letter, Laudato Si. We at ACCU are sharing resources and best practices to help our campuses pray for commitment to care for creation, learn about the encyclical and our call to stewardship, and act upon our beliefs to work for the common good.
ACCU member institutions have acted upon their call to care for creation through a number of sustainability and environmental justice initiatives.
29 Catholic colleges and universities have taken the St. Francis Pledge, sponsored by the Catholic Climate Covenant, committing to living out the value of care for creation through reflection, action, and advocacy. These campuses include: Aquinas College (MI), Cabrini College, Chestnut Hill College, College of Saint Benedict, Creighton University, Gonzaga University, John Carroll University, Lewis University, Loyola University Chicago, Marquette University, Mercyhurst University, Mount St. Joseph University, Neumann University, Rosemont College, Saint Anselm College, Saint Francis University, Saint John’s University (MN), Saint Joseph’s College (IN), Saint Mary’s College of California, Saint Michael’s College, Salve Regina University, Seattle University, St. Thomas More College, Stonehill College, University of Notre Dame, University of Portland, Villanova University, Viterbo University, and Xavier University.
The Center for Environmental Justice and Sustainability at Seattle University lives out a core tenet of the university mission. The Center has undertaken a number of initiatives, including supporting faculty and student research through fellowships. Dr. Trileigh Tucker, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies at Seattle University, and one of CEJS’s first Faculty Fellows, developed a teaching resource on environmental justice, compiling syllabi, assessment methods, and foundational documents used frequently in courses on environmental justice.
Benedictine University in Illinois has received a $46,000 Food Scrap Composting Revitalization and Advancement Program (F-SCRAP) grant from the state to allow for the diversion of food scraps generated in the campus cafeteria and other buildings.
In spring 2015, Cabrini College held a conference, “Faith, Climate, and Health”, to examine how climate change affects the health of the most vulnerable citizens.
At the University of Portland, professors Dr. Russell Butkus and Dr. Steven Kolmes, teach a course entitled “Theology in Ecological Perspective”, exploring Catholic and Christian teaching and environmental science.
Read more ways ACCU member campuses have undertaken sustainability initiatives on the ACCU website. Check back frequently as we will post new updates and ways that ACCU campuses react to the Laudato Si to the blog!