Nadinne Cruz, renowned practitioner and advocate of service learning, to be involved in major Fairfield University initiative


Nadinne Cruz, a nationally renowned practitioner, advocate, scholar, and consultant on service learning who has motivated people throughout the world to get involved in the diverse communities around them, will play a central role in a series of workshops Sept. 23-25. Fairfield University's Center for Faith and Public Life and Office of Service Learning have organized. The public is invited to attend Cruz's keynote address, entitled "The Urgent Need for Service Learning for Justice, Integration and Sustainability." The keynote takes place Tuesday, Sept. 23 at 6:30 p.m. in the Kelley Center presentation room. For information, call (203) 254-4000, ext. 3455, or e-mail mquan@mail.fairfield.edu.

Cruz's work is inspired by her volunteer experiences with peasants in the Philippines and her Filipina-American immigrant consciousness of domestic and international issues. At Fairfield, she will facilitate discussion on the dynamic integration of service learning, diversity learning, and integration.

Melissa Quan, who is the associate director of the Center for Faith and Public Life and director of Service Learning, said she has been inspired by Cruz's commitment to service learning, diversity and her powerful way of engaging practitioners in rich, meaningful, challenging and reflective dialogue. She and Robbin Crabtree, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, have come to know of Cruz through interacting with her at conferences. "We believe that she can help us deepen our approach to educating students about issues of diversity and social justice and transform students' collective consciousness about issues of diversity and social justice."

Cruz was key to Stanford University embracing service learning as a significant initiative while she was associate director and later director of the Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford. Under her leadership, the Haas Center implemented service learning programs that have been modeled by many universities and colleges. She has also been involved with Campus Compact, a nationwide coalition made up of more than 1,100 colleges and universities, including Fairfield. Its mission of community service is aligned with that of Fairfield's Jesuit mission of serving others.

Service learning is enriching the learning experience across all disciplines of study for Fairfield students by involving them in service to those who have been marginalized. The overall goal for Cruz's visit is to have her help the University community recognize how service learning can be a tool in implementing the University's strategic goals. Quan added, "I am also viewing this as an opportunity to raise awareness in the community about our service learning program which directly impacts the community."

Housed within the Center for Faith & Public Life, the service learning program at the University facilitates connections between focused academic learning that meets disciplinary standards for rigor, with meaningful and appropriate service that addresses needs identified by and with communities. For example, one such project has had accounting students in the Charles F. Dolan School of Business helping Greater Bridgeport working families and individuals who have low to moderate incomes with tax preparation.

Some of the topics to be explored at the workshops include:

  • A discussion on the intersection of social justice learning and service learning.
  • A conversation on diversity in general education.
  • Emerging trends in the field of service learning.
  • Preparing Fairfield students to be global citizens and promoters of justice.
  • The Diversity and Social Justice Living and Learning Community. (This is part of a project that encourages sophomore students to take interdisciplinary and service learning courses on diversity and social justice, work with community partners to develop service projects and engage in peer mentoring while living together in a residence hall.)

Cruz's visit is sponsored in large part by the Humanities Institute of Fairfield University, the Center for Academic Excellence, the Core Integration Initiative, the Office of Student Diversity Programs, and the Diversity and Social Justice Living and Learning Community.

For details about Fairfield's service learning efforts, visit www.fairfield.edu/servicelearning.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on September 18, 2008

Vol. 41, No. 59