Fall break seminar to combine work with interfaith dialogue

Author: Dennis K. Brown & Kelly Roberts


Sixteen students from the University of Notre Dame will travel to the Pacific Northwest during fall break (Oct. 18-24) to meet and work with Jews, Muslims and Christians as part of an innovative new seminar.p. Called “Building a Civilization of Love,” the seminar will bring together a diverse group of people to work on a construction project for migrant farm workers. When not working, the participants will discuss their similarities and differences in hopes of developing a deeper understanding of those from other faith traditions.p. The seminar will take place at Camp Brotherhood, located near Mount Vernon, Wash., about 60 miles north of Seattle.p. “At a time when there is so much misunderstanding and mistrust between the faiths, our goal is to create a forum where Notre Dame students can engage those of other faiths,” said Rabbi Michael Signer, Abrams Professor of Jewish Thought and Culture at Notre Dame. "At the same time, our hope is that all parties will see the commonality in their lives and faith, and how they can work together for a more peaceful world.p. “It has never been more important for Jews, Christians and Muslims to understand each other and work together.”p. The seminar is part of the wide-ranging service learning programming organized by Notre Dames Center for Social Concerns. One of the largest and most comprehensive such programs in higher education, the seminars combine volunteer service with course work and experiential learning during the Universitys spring and fall breaks. More than 260 students will participate in six seminars nationwide next week.p. “The goal of our seminars is to expose students to the difficult social issues of our times, make them aware of the complexity of social problems and more empathetic with those entangled in them,” said Jay Brandenberger, director of experiential learning and justice education in the Center for Social Concerns.p. According to Brandenberger, research indicates that students engaged in service develop a deeper and continuing understanding of social justice issues. About 85 percent of Notre Dame students take part in local and national service initiatives offered through the center.p. In addition to “Building a Civilization of Love,” other seminars this fall are:p. • Appalachia – A Notre Dame tradition for more than two decades, the Appalachia Seminar will send some 200 students to the impoverished region in Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina to explore religious, social, political and environmental issues and to serve in various home repair, clothing distribution, food bank and health care projects.p. • “Gospel of Life” – Twelve students will travel to Washington, D.C., to examine the death penalty, euthanasia, abortion, cloning, stem-cell research and related life-issues and how the upcoming national elections might affect them.p. • “Gullah” – Through service and cultural opportunities, 16 participants will learn about the rich history and culture of the Gullah people of South Carolina, as well as learn about current pressures facing the residents of the Sea Islands.p. • “Cultural Diversity” – Fourteen students will explores the rich cultural heritage of Chicago’s ethnic neighborhoods and immigrant traditions while examining the corresponding problems of urban life and racism.p. • “Faithful Citizenship” – Twelve students will meet in Washington, D.C., with elected officials, campaign organizers, journalists and Church leaders at various government agencies, think tanks, and non-governmental organizations to discuss the campaign process, the issues at stake in the election, Catholic social teaching, and the roles to be played in America by faithful citizens.p. Contact: Kelly Roberts, director of communications, Center for Social Concerns, 574-631-3209 or krobert2@nd.edu . p. __ p.

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