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Center for Social Concerns ends SSLPs, introduces NDBridge

| Wednesday, November 9, 2022

The summer service learning program (SSLP) and its international counterpart (ISSLP) have been phased out by the Center for Social Concerns. NDBridge is the University’s new summer community engagement program, limited to rising sophomores. The previous programs were open to students in each of their three summers.

NDBridge will continue to offer eight-week service-based immersion experiences, a one-credit supplementary course and international options through NDBridge-International to the smaller applicant pool.

JP Shortall, associate director of the CSC, said that the new program will build on the SSLP framework.

“NDBridge will combine the best elements of the SSLP/ISSLP programs while also providing additional resources and structures to enhance and deepen the experiences of our students as they engage in domestic and global service-learning opportunities,” Shortall wrote in an email to The Observer.

Shortall cited the difficulties the previous programs faced over the past three years as the reasoning behind the CSC’s decision to replace SSLP and ISSLP with NDBridge.

“The past three years have presented significant challenges for community engagement programs both at Notre Dame and around the country,” he wrote. “As disruptive as these challenges were, they offered us an important opportunity to assess best practices in community-engaged learning, both nationally and globally,” he wrote. “In light of these assessments and changing student interests on campus, we decided it was a good time to make some changes to our summer community engagement programs.”

The program’s goal is to “get students to think hard about injustice, work with communities around the world that face it and consider their responsibility to the common good while at Notre Dame and beyond,” according to the NDBridge website

Shortall added that he hopes the Notre Dame community can gain “a sense of connection to communities around the country and the world, a sense of solidarity with their joys, hopes, griefs and challenges” through the program.

NDBridge will seek to deepen the experiences and connections of their students through the living situation for students in the program, Shortall said.

“In NDBridge rising sophomores will live with other students in intentional communities of four either at or near community partner sites,” he wrote. “Students often find themselves searching and/or disoriented after their first year in college, and programs like NDBridge serve to reorient them with meaning and purpose. The four-person intentional living-learning communities will offer opportunities to enrich the work the students are doing each day through common meals, prayer, reflection and discussion, with special emphasis on engaging with the local community.”

According to the website, “applications for NDBridge opened Oct. 31 and close at 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 2, 2022.” Students will then be selected for interviews, receive offers and enroll in a preparatory course.

Shortall said that students should apply because the program “connects some of the most important things about being a person: meaning, purpose, a sense of community and self-discovery. And it’s a great way to participate in the University’s mission ‘to create a sense of human solidarity and concern for the common good that will bear fruit as learning becomes service to justice.’”

The next information session for NDBridge is on Nov. 17 at 5 p.m. in the Geddes Hall coffeehouse.

You can contact Tess Brennan at [email protected].

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About Tess Brennan