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CSC celebrates thirty years of service to community

By Catherine Owers | Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Center for Social Concerns (CSC) will celebrate its 30th anniversary with an open house tonight in Geddes Hall.

Rev. Paul Kollman, executive director of the CSC, said the Center seeks to assist students in fulfilling the University’s mission. 

“I think we represent a lot of Notre Dame’s best ideals in what we seek to form in our students and in the ways we relate to the communities we seek to serve, locally, across the country and internationally,” Kollman

The Center was founded in April 1983 when the Volunteer Services Office and the Center for Experiential Learning combined, Kollman said. “We’ve engaged more and more students in different sorts of experiences,” he said. “We’ve sought to engage faculty in their pedagogy, and we’ve sought to produce research that looks at the effects of our programs on the students who involve themselves and the communities we seek to serve.” 

John Guimond, the CSC’s director of communications, said the Center runs approximately six seminars per semester, with about 1,000 students who participate each year. 

“The Appalachia Seminar is the most popular, with about 400 students who participate each year,” Guimond said.  

In addition to seminars, Guimond said the Center works with all colleges in the University to develop community-based learning courses. 

“We have a n.umber of people here at the CSC to work with faculty to develop pedagogy from their courses to make connections to community partners,” he said. 

The Center also consults with community organizations to find areas of need when creating community-based learning courses, Guimond said. “It’s really trying to figure out what the community need is and matching that need to the given class,” he said.  

Annie Cahill Kelly, the CSC’s director of community partnership and service learning, said community-based learning has been an important part of the Center’s history. 

“For about 28 of the 30 years, there’s been a very intentional relationship with the local community, working to make connections,” Kelly said. 

Kelly said although once humanities-centric, the community-based learning courses are now available to students in many disciplines. 

“My memory is that it was more theology, arts-and-letter classes that had such offerings. Those who had connections to the Center were pioneers of such courses,” she said. “Now, today, it’s business, it’s science, it’s engineering, it’s architecture. It’s all the colleges, not just humanities.”

Kelly said the Center has grown in terms of numbers of faculty and students engaged, and many of the Center’s programs have reached national and international levels. 

“Some of the programs allow for greater numbers of students to participate and therefore have greater effects in terms of communities that are reached,” she said. “The ways that students are able to interact and engage with local communities – I think those ways are deepened and more intentional.”

Contact Catherine Owers at [email protected]