Fairfield University's Center for Faith and Public Life receives Teagle Foundation grant for Jesuit Universities Humanitarian Action Network (JUHAN) initiative


Fairfield University's Center for Faith and Public Life has received a $296,105 grant from the Teagle Foundation supporting its efforts as a leadership school in the Jesuit Universities Humanitarian Action Network (JUHAN). The grant was awarded to Fairfield, Fordham, and Georgetown Universities, the founders of the JUHAN project, with the purpose of engaging students, faculty, administrators and staff at the 28 Jesuit universities nationwide to better prepare their communities to understand and respond to the complexities of humanitarian crises.

While the grant supports JUHAN's efforts to build on the success of the planning phase and undertake new challenges, it more specifically is intended to assess student learning in the context of humanitarian coursework and the impact on participating students. The Teagle grant will also be used to assess the organizational impact that student leadership teams have on their home campuses as they develop effective programs to provide aid in humanitarian crises.

The need for expertise in humanitarian relief has never been greater domestically, as crises such as Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ike have sadly illustrated, as well as internationally, as crises in the Sudan, Somalia, Rwanda, Myanmar (Burma), and China have underscored. The initiative will also focus on how to prepare students for a professional career in humanitarian service.

At Fairfield, the Center for Faith and Public Life is coordinating the University's JUHAN involvement. Rev. Richard Ryscavage, S.J., the Center's director and professor of sociology, said, "In the current global environment, humanitarian studies should be an integral part of a Jesuit liberal arts education. Through pioneering work of Fairfield, Georgetown and Fordham we hope that all Jesuit schools will develop a signature reputation for preparing undergraduates to understand and respond to complex humanitarian crises. The generous grant from Teagle will allow us to assess student learning as well as measure the institutional impact of this initiative at our three schools."

The Center for Faith and Public Life will work collaboratively with Fordham and Georgetown toward the development of a unique assessment framework of students, faculty, and institutional engagement and learning which will, ultimately, become portable beyond the three universities.

JUHAN provides a collaborative effort within Jesuit education to develop programs and graduates with a sophisticated understanding of humanitarian crises and the ability to respond effectively. To achieve this, the project includes student leadership team development, academic courses on humanitarian issues, co-curricular engagement opportunities and experiences, and ongoing, comprehensive assessment. Goals include broadening and deepening the core curriculum and institution-wide experiences to better reflect the growing civic, social, and academic responsibilities of higher education in response to domestic and international humanitarian crises in the 21st Century. JUHAN was developed with a planning grant from the Teagle Foundation.

The Teagle Foundation (www.teagle.org) aims to strengthen liberal education by providing the intellectual and financial resources necessary to ensure that today's students have access to challenging, wide-ranging, and enriching college educations, and that they succeed at the highest possible level. Funding for this project is provided through the Foundation's Outcomes and Assessment initiative, which focuses specifically on evidence-driven efforts to strengthen teaching and learning.

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

Posted on February 10, 2009

Vol. 41, No. 213