A Fairfield University Evening with Carnegie Corporation of New York to address education for civic responsibility and social justice


A group of Fairfield University students will have a night to remember when they travel to Carnegie Corporation in New York on Monday, March 3, to take part in a discussion of ways to engage young people in the civic and political life of their communities. Leaders of organizations dedicated to promoting civic responsibility will discuss the issues from their perspectives. The 6:30 p.m. forum will provide an opportunity for a lively debate and discussion.

Hosted by Carnegie Corporation of New York and Fairfield University, the program will feature a talk on civic engagement by Rev. Bryan Hehir, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA. Presenting responses will be Neil Grabois, vice president and director of strategic planning and program coordination for the Carnegie Corporation, and Dr. Paul Lakeland, professor of religious studies at Fairfield University and a nationally recognized expert on religion in the public square. Students and representatives from other foundations involved in youth civic engagement issues will take part in the discussion that follows, facilitated by Ms. Susan Robinson King, vice president, public affairs at the Corporation.

The students are members of Fairfield's Ignatian Residential College, an integrated, year-long experience for more than 100 sophomores, who through action and reflection begin to examine the role and impact of religion on civic life and their own individual participation in it. The College, in its first year, was established with a Lilly Endowment grant.

Fairfield University has also established a research partnership with the Office for Social and International Ministries of the Jesuit Conference that will involve students and faculty in research and planning for a wide range of projects with national and international applications.

Created by Andrew Carnegie in 1911, Carnegie Corporation of New York continues his mission to advance and diffuse knowledge and understanding. Currently, the Corporation's major priorities include education reform specifically urban high school redesign and teachers' education reforms, higher education in Africa and the former Soviet Union, international peace and security issues, and strengthening U.S. democratic infrastructures through election reform and civic engagement of youth and immigrants.

Ms. King, who earned her M.A. in Communications from Fairfield, said, "The Corporation believes this interesting mix of leaders, philanthropists and educators can stimulate a discussion with Fairfield's honor college students that we think will enrich our work in shaping the national dialogue about the civic mission of schools as well as challenge the students to think about their role in the public square. This evening may be a model for campuses across the country to focus their top students on the question of their role in the American civic space."

Rev. Hehir was a MacArthur Foundation Fellow (1984-1988) and is a distinguished professor of ethics and international affairs at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. While at Harvard Divinity School for eight years, he became the first Catholic to serve as dean. Earlier in his career he was assigned to the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops in Washington, D.C. Installed as president of Catholic Charities USA in 2001, Fr. Hehir oversees a national network of 1,640 local Catholic Charities agencies and institutions that provide help and create hope for more than seven million people a year regardless of their religious, social, or economic background.

Trained as a mathematician, Mr. Grabois held top management positions in the academic community, including 11 years as president of Colgate University. Prior to that he dedicated 25 years to Williams College where he served as provost of the college, dean of faculty and dean of the college. As a professor of mathematics, he taught at Colgate University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Pennsylvania, among others.

Dr. Lakeland is the author of five books, including "Theology and Critical Theory: The Discourse of the Church" (1990), and "Postmodernity: Christian Identity in a Fragmented Age" (1997). His latest book, "The Liberation of the Laity: In Search of An Accountable Church," will be published in April. In a recent article, "Critique and Engagement: The Ethics of Education," Dr. Lakeland analyzes undergraduate education. He says "The single biggest weakness in the ethos of undergraduate education today is a lack of critical capacity and sensitivity." Education, he suggests, "should produce graduates who can see the connections between individual and social well-being."

Before joining Carnegie Corporation, Ms. King served three cabinet secretaries as a communications strategist, working with Secretaries Robert B. Reich and Alexis Herman at the Department of Labor and with Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Andrew Cuomo. Before that she spent 20 years as a journalist covering national and international issues, including as an anchor in Washington, D.C. and a political analyst.

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

Posted on February 24, 2003

Vol. 35, No. 212