Cabrini, St. Joseph’s receive fair trade grant

By Diana Campeggio
September 15, 2011

The Fair Trade Certified logo
The Fair Trade Certified logo

Cabrini and St. Joseph’s University have jointly been awarded a fair trade grant by Catholic Relief Services over the summer in order to promote fair trade awareness.  The grant, awarded back in June, provided $14,000, and both schools will match the amount received to develop two main goals.

The first goal is to help CRS assess if fair trade courses and immersion trips have a positive impact on people who take them, meaning, when students take these fair trade courses, what do they learn and are these lessons staying with them throughout their lives?

“We think so, but we have to somehow show that,” Dr. Mary Laver, grant manager and former director of international partnerships at Cabrini, said. “CRS wants to know if students who take courses and trips about fair trade actually develop into committed fair trade activists and leaders.”

Dr. Mary Harris and Dr. Erin McLaughlin, business administration department, are developing two new courses, which will help students to delve more deeply into the world of fair trade.  These two courses, a 200-level ECG this spring and a 300-level ECG in the fall, will help students understand why fair trade has become so important to Cabrini and CRS.

These courses will be aiding the Cabrini community in Swaziland to receive their fair trade certification for their craft as well as other projects and lessons that teach how fair trade is a way to help those who are in poverty.

At St. Joseph’s University, Dr. Keith Brown, assistant professor of sociology, will also be developing courses and assessing their effectiveness.

The second goal is to host a fair trade conference for the 12 Catholic colleges and universities in the Philadelphia area.  According to Laver, both Cabrini and St. Joseph’s hope to motivate other colleges and organizations to become involved in fair trade by forming a fair trade consortium with these schools.  In building this consortium, students, faculty and staff from all of the 12 schools would be able to share ideas, motivate each other and buy larger qualities of fair trade products.

Along with developing assessment strategies and building the consortium, money from the grant will also be used to create web media and “will be used to develop really easily shareable and interesting, informative web materials,” Laver said.

According to Laver, fair trade at Cabrini was started five years ago through the interest of student Meghan Hurley and Sodexo manager Drew Niemann. Through support from Sodexo and CRS, fair trade has grown as a way Cabrini can support farmers overseas just by choosing fair trade products.  Products on campus include coffee, chocolate, rice, t-shirts, and sugar, to name a few.

Any students who are interested in fair trade are encouraged to contact the Wolfington Center for more information on how to get involved.

The Fair Trade Certified logo

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Diana Campeggio

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