Editorial:New curriculum urges social justice initiatives

By Mallory Terrence
September 25, 2008

“Do something extraordinary” is the identity statement of Cabrini College.

The college’s hope is that all students will not stop learning after leaving the classroom and will take what they learn to create a more just society. Cabrini has the tools for students to do extraordinary projects, related to majors or areas of interest, but are all Cabrini students taking advantage of the opportunities available?

Cabrini has had graduates who have gone on to incorporate social justice into their field of choice, while other graduates never learned the possibilities they had to help the common good both locally and globally. The new curriculum will engage every student who attends Cabrini College to insure students leave Cabrini with a commitment to social justice.

This fall, 100 freshmen are piloting the new curriculum, Engagements with the Common Good (ECG). These students are currently in their first ECG course where they are starting to explore their own spiritual, cultural, political and economic connection to local and global communities.

In fall 2009, the new curriculum will begin for all incoming freshmen, requiring them to have an ECG course each year. ECG 100 is based on awareness, ECG 200 participation, ECG 300 social change and a senior year culminating experience in their major to prepare for life long engagement.

ECG courses will work along with Cabrini’s partnerships in Norristown and with Catholic Relief Services to explore concepts of dignity, equality and solidarity. These experiences will allow students to learn the difference between seeking justice through charity and through social change.

Last weekend, a group of the freshmen class went to a Fair Trade fair in Media, Pa., where they experienced an entire town committed to Fair Trade. The 20 freshmen got to use their communication major to educate and report, and then later reflect on what they saw and learned.

Sure, you can go to Jazzman’s and buy a cup of Fair Trade coffee to do your part to support Fair Trade, but the new ECG courses allow students to do more than buy a cup of coffee. The freshmen really were able to understand what the difference is between Fair Trade and regular coffee when it comes down to the people’s lives who produce the goods.

The current ECG 100 students will be educated on Fair Trade and many other social justice issues this year and start to understand their connections to the rest of the world. In ECG 200, they do more hands-on work with an off-campus project with one of our Cabrini partners. ECG 300 would have students do in-depth research on social justice topics and to advocate for systemic changes. Senior year brings all that the students have learned over the past three years and integrate it with the students’ major. All students will graduate with the ability to connect professional skills to social justice.

The new curriculum is still in a pilot stage. Currently four faculty are demonstrating how to integrate the new curriculum to the rest of the faculty. Cabrini College wants to create students who work for a just society no matter what field they go into.

Anyone can donate money to a cause but Cabrini students will go much deeper and learn how to bring about change in communities.

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Mallory Terrence

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