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USF Selected to Help Catholic Relief Services Spread Social Justice


The University of San Francisco is teaming up with Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the official international relief and development agency of the Catholic Church in the U.S., for a new immersion program.

Scholars in Global Solidarity, as the program has been dubbed, aims to develop, student solidarity with marginalized communities around the world, faculty expertise, and course curriculum. USF is one of three Catholic universities in the U.S. and the only Jesuit university chosen for the initial three-year phase of the program. The University of Dayton and St. Johns University are also part of the pilot.

USF was selected for its demonstrated leadership and excellence in applying Catholic Social Teaching — with its social justice mission and focus on addressing the causes of poverty. That leadership and excellence are exemplified by USF’s work through the Joan and Ralph Lane Center for Catholic Studies and Social Thought and the Arrupe Justice Immersion program led by University Ministry and the Center for Global Education.

“In launching this new program, we have looked for institutions who are walking the talk of faith doing justice in very concrete ways, supported by their institutional charisma and strategic initiatives,” said Susan Walters, spokeswoman for CRS.

The idea for Scholars in Global Solidarity came in the wake of genocide in Rwanda in the 1990s where CRS was on the ground and helping with relief efforts when the worst violence erupted. “We realized that all the good work we had been doing — the silos and the schools we built, the children we fed, the farms we planted — was not enough,” said Ken Hackett, past president of CRS, in an article in Explore Journal explaining CRS’ expanded social justice efforts. “We realized that we had to start addressing the justice issues relating to the social relationships that were imbalanced in Rwanda.”

USF President Stephen A. Privett, S.J., welcomed the alliance, calling it a tribute to the serious and effective efforts of the university’s faculty, staff, and students to blend academic rigor with social responsibility.

“As an expression of this partnership, I was part of a mid-January CRS-sponsored delegation for Catholic university presidents to Rwanda and Burundi,” Fr. Privett said. “The experience was an eye-, mind-, and heart-opener, as well as an inspiring introduction to the people and work of CRS and to the possibilities of our new partnership.”

Written by Edward Carpenter