Fairfield University partners with national Jesuit organization and Greater Bridgeport Area Foundation to do social justice research


Fairfield University is joining the Jesuit Conference Office for Social and International Ministries and working with the Greater Bridgeport Area Foundation to conduct social justice research on a local and international level.

Fairfield will celebrate and launch the new affiliation on Thursday, Oct. 10, with a daylong meeting of Fairfield faculty researchers, Jesuit Conference researchers, Foundation representatives and other guests. The day will culminate in a formal reception at 4:30 p.m. in the University's Alumni House.

The Jesuit Conference is the Washington, D.C.-based support organization for Jesuits in the United States. Fairfield is the first Jesuit university in the nation to enter into a formal alliance with the Conference's Social and International Ministries office, which does research, generates position papers and lobbies to eliminate social injustices within the system.

The partnership will initially look at five topics: refugees and the phenomenon of migration, challenges of widespread conflict and human displacement in Columbia, information systems in underdeveloped nations, banking and insurance red-lining in poor urban neighborhoods and problem solving for better health (an international and national model of the Dreyfus Health Foundation).

For the latter two topics in particular, Fairfield will also work with its neighbors at the Greater Bridgeport Area Foundation and local communities.

"By working together we have the ability to take lessons from the local community and through the research that Fairfield University and the Jesuit Conference bring to the process, truly make a difference in urban America," said Cindy Kissin, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Bridgeport Area Foundation. "This is an enormous opportunity, not only for the Foundation, but for the community and we are privileged to be invited to participate."

Fairfield is also looking for a Jesuit university in Central or Latin America to work with on the project, said Rev. James Bowler, S.J., university facilitator for Catholic and Jesuit Mission and Identity.

Much of the faculty research at Fairfield dovetails with the Office for Social and International Ministries' mission, Bowler said. The partnership has the potential to involve a host of Fairfield faculty and students doing research that supports Fairfield's Jesuit mission.

"One of the main things that makes a Jesuit and Catholic university distinctive is the value-based research done by its faculty," Fr. Bowler said. "This offers us an opportunity to combine and expand the extraordinary amount of social justice-oriented research done by the Fairfield faculty under one umbrella."

"This collaboration will provide both students and faculty with opportunities to jointly publish important research leading to addressing major social problems," said Mary Frances Malone, Ph.D., associate academic vice president at Fairfield University.

Fairfield will offer the Jesuit Conference Office support services in areas of research, policy development and model programs. The University will also collaborate toward the development of a model for interdisciplinary research that will partner with grass roots parishioners and commit two or three seminar classes to working on particular policy issues.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on October 15, 2002

Vol. 35 , No. 74