Proceedings & Findings from 2013 NFJCL Conference

Theme: What does justice require in relationships between campus and community partners? How do faith traditions inform this question?

Conference Host:

DePaul University, the nation's largest Catholic university, was founded by the Congregation of the Mission (the "Vincentians") in 1898. The institution takes its name from St. Vincent de Paul, a 17th century French, Catholic priest known for his service and advocacy with society's poor and marginalized. Vincent's charity and work for justice was motivated by a vision of faith which recognized the crucified Christ in those that his society had forgotten.

The Vincentian tradition and mission grounds our work at DePaul and is a central motivation for our hosting of this conference. Our Catholic-Vincentian heritage challenges us to consider the place of faith and higher education in the transformation of society and in addressing the needs of those who suffer from poverty and injustice. And, the urban dimension of our mission, identity, and context challenges us to critically examine our role as an anchor civic institution in a major, urban city to determine how best to be a civic participant and partner. Therefore, we are motivated to consider in what ways our work of educating new generations of students and partnering with local community organizations can contribute to a broader mission of building a more just and loving human community and world.

Statement of Purpose:

The NFJCL Conference in June of 2013 will involve a collaborative process of reflection, dialogue and learning among invited experts and participants, most commonly those involved in college and university-based community service, service-learning, service immersion experiences, or community-based research, including representative community partners.

The process utilized during the 1 ½ day gathering will lead us to the development of a statement or statements of principles, considerations and guidelines for campus-community partnerships and a broad set of principles for this engagement which can guide universities/colleges in their work involving local communities. This statement or these statements will draw on the wisdom of faith and theological perspectives from various traditions, as well as on the personal, professional, and theoretical insights and academic disciplines of those gathered, in order to identify notions of justice which ground and frame vibrant and healthy relationships between campus and community partners and positive social impact in the community.

Our hope is that this tangible outcome, together with the fruits of the process itself, will guide university and community partners to implement steps to work together more effectively to address real needs in our local communities, as well as to prepare new generations of students who can be a positive leaven in society. We hope also that these principles and guidelines for engagement between campus and community partners can be shared widely and positively influence other institutions who are asking similar questions or involved in similar work.

Who will participate?

The NFJCL conference gathers a diverse community of higher education scholars, practitioners, and partners to dialogue and learn together about the practice and art of education for effective civic and community engagement. The learning community we seek to create includes faculty, staff, students, funders, community partners, and religious leaders, and including theorists, practitioners, and researchers.

The unique niche that this conference has served and seeks to serve is characterized by the intentional inclusion of faith-based scholar-practitioners, perspectives, and institutions into the input, conversations and learning about civic engagement, community service and service-learning. We seek to create a space where those of diverse faith backgrounds can "bring who they are" into the conversations and where different faith traditions can be seen and included as valued resources. Having said that, we also seek to include and involve all in meaningful listening and learning together, including those who approach their work from various "secular" perspectives.

NJFCL 2013 will also seek to invite and involve community partners who work in collaboration with colleges and university programs, students, faculty and staff, in order to ensure that their perspectives inform the conversation and process, and will be reflected in the final statements of principles, considerations and guidelines for campus-community partnerships.

Invitation Process

The invitation process for the conference has included those whom have attended previous conferences, those who are known (by us) as leaders in the field, and those whom we know to have a particular interest in this topic of conversation and scholarship. We have proceeded to invite "by word of mouth" only. If you have not attended previous NFJCL conferences and are interested in participating or have someone in mind who you'd like to invite "by word of mouth", please e-mail Emily Kraus at ekraus@depaul.edu for registration information. There will be no broad-based invitation process, promotion, or marketing because space is intentionally limited in order to facilitate more effectively the planned, deepened dialogical process throughout the conference.

Join us this summer for dialogues, questions and a great exchange of ideas and experience.

Please help us prepare for this conference by reflecting on the following questions and including your answers on the registration form.

  • What is your motivation in participating in this conference?

  • As we begin this process together, what are some of your preliminary questions or concerns regarding faith, justice and civic learning?

  • What teachings or theories do you draw on from your faith tradition that helps inform or motivate your work on faith and justice with community partners? (i.e. We rely heavily on the Catholic Social Teaching's preferential option for the poor).

  • What are your "go to" articles or resources for your work with students?

Monsignor John Egan (1916-2001) asked, "What are you doing for justice?"

Conference Goals
  1. To disseminate research findings on the intersecting areas of faith, justice, social responsibility, and civic or service-learning.
  2. To share faith perspectives on ideas and practices of justice and social and civic responsibility.
  3. To focus on justice and its relation to civic and service-learning, and/or a faith perspective.
  4. To discuss the practice of service-learning and its impact on faith and vocation at both secular and faith-based education institutions.
  5. To explore the role of reflection, in particular, in connecting faith, service and learning.
  6. To share research and practice of interfaith dialogue and cooperation in higher education.
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