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About the Conference

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

NFJCL Conference History

In the spring of 2007, a group of faculty, staff, and students from state Campus Compact offices and public and private colleges and universities from across the Midwest gathered at St. Mary's College of Notre Dame, Indiana. Motivated by the idea of collectively organizing a national conference focused on the integrative significance of faith, justice, and civic learning in higher education, we began working together and partnering with others across this country to design and plan the first NFJCL conference in 2009. We followed with a conference in 2011 and this year are planning for the 3rd biannual gathering. We invite you to contribute to the teaching, learning, and scholarship of this national gathering.

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.

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