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CSC picks theme for programs

Becky Hogan | Wednesday, September 6, 2006

While the Campus Labor Action Project focuses on economic issues within the Notre Dame community, the Center for Social Concerns is taking a wider lens to the problem of poverty by making its theme for the year “Economic Justice For All.”

The theme derives from the document “Economic Justice For All,” a piece written in 1986 at the U.S. Conference of Catholic bishops that addresses the devastating reality of poverty throughout the world.

“We chose the document as our theme because we wanted to look at how Notre Dame can look at poverty and the needs of the community through the lens of Catholic social teaching,” said Bill Purcell, associate director of Catholic Social Tradition and Practice.

The CSC will use the issues addressed in the document to shape many of the events, service learning seminars, lectures and forums it sponsors throughout the year. The Justice Education Team, along with Father Bill Lies, executive director of the CSC, chose this year’s theme.

Sean Agniel, a graduate student in the Master of Divinity Program helping to coordinate many of the events sponsored by the CSC this year, said the 20th anniversary of the document “calls for ongoing inquiry and demands that the document be revisited.”

“[This year’s theme] reminds us that our salvation is tied up with the salvation of the world [and calls] us to think about who we are as Christians,” Agniel said.

Purcell said the CSC plans to use the document as “a reminder that issues of economics have values behind them.”

“There are multiple ways of examining poverty and we wanted to do it in an interdisciplinary way” he said.

Purcell said the lectures, forums and other events planned throughout the year are not only for students but also for faculty and members of the local community. He hopes this year’s theme will help people look beyond the Notre Dame community, he said, to consider national and international issues of economic justice.

One of the first events sponsored by the CSC in connection with “Economic Justice for All” will be a documentary presented by the Higgins Center Labor History Film Series called “Meeting Face to Face: The Iraq-U.S. Solidarity Tour.” This 27-minute documentary will be shown in the Hesburgh Center Auditorium Monday.

Several students involved with the CSC will also be present at the Notre Dame Academic Forum on Sept. 14 to discuss the global health crisis.

In October, Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and author David Shipler will give a lecture on his book, “The Working Poor.” The CSC and Mendoza College of Business will co-host the lecture.

The CSC chose a theme as the basis of the year’s service opportunities and seminars to try to engage all members of the Notre Dame community in issues of poverty and economic justice, Purcell said. If this approach works well, he said, the CSC will plan on selecting different themes in the future.

“We have already begun talking about themes for the upcoming year,” he said.