Catholic Relief Services (CRS) launched a new program with Catholic universities called Scholars in Global Solidarity (SGS) on June 25, 2012. With SGS, CRS will engage faculty at Catholic universities to exchange expertise on global issues and to apply that knowledge both to academic life on campus and to CRS’ work overseas. The program builds on more than a decade of collaboration between CRS and Catholic universities.
Three Catholic universities participated in SGS initial pilot program: St. John’s University, a Vincentian university in New York; the University of Dayton, a Marianist university in Ohio; and the University of San Francisco, a Jesuit university in California.
These universities were selected because of their institutional commitment to social justice and their administration’s commitment to integrating its curriculum and campus life with topics relevant to helping vulnerable communities in developing countries overseas become stronger.
The goals of the program are two-fold, reflecting the spirit of partnership: CRS will provide resources to help Catholic universities educate students as informed, compassionate, and active global citizens; Catholic universities will expand CRS’s capacity to serve the poor overseas by offering access to academic expertise among faculty.
“By tapping two strong assets of the Catholic Church in the U.S. – the academic sector and the humanitarian service sector – Scholars in Global Solidarity aims to advance the state of contemporary social justice education with practical knowledge and a shared commitment to the core Catholic principle of serving people in need,” said Joan Rosenhauer, vice president of U. S. Operations for CRS.
The exchange of expertise between faculty and CRS technical staff will lead to innovations in how both groups approach some of the most pressing issues affecting impoverished communities, such as conflict, lack of food, poor health, access to water and access to education.
The three year pilot began on June 25 with orientation and planning sessions at CRS’ headquarters in Baltimore. Teams of SGS faculty from each university attended along with CRS’ technical and policy experts. Next summer, the teams will visit CRS programs in South America to see how CRS works with communities to address their needs and explore specific projects where collaboration will be a benefit to all.
As part of the pilot, participating faculty and CRS staff will help design and implement the program nationally, ultimately reaching out to all 220 Catholic colleges and universities in the United States.
SGS builds on years of successful collaborations and partnerships between CRS and several Catholic universities and colleges, including Cabrini College, Santa Clara University, Seattle University, Villanova University and the University of Notre Dame.CRS leadership and staff have forged close ties with these institutions by participating in regular symposiums, classroom teaching, field work and visiting professorships in various academic departments.
“CRS university experience demonstrates that a critical factor in developing globally-committed university communities is engaged faculty. SGS offers a gateway to that goal,” said Rosenhauer.
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Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency provides assistance to people in need in nearly 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. For more information, please visit www.crs.org or www.crsespanol.org.
Susan Gossling Walters
Catholic Relief Services