New Minor in Humanitarian Action is a Hit
The new minor in humanitarian action, introduced by the College of Arts and Sciences and in collaboration with Fairfield’s five schools, has already had a big impact among students.
Dr. Janie Leatherman, professor of politics and director of the minor in humanitarian action, said, “The high level of student interest in JUHAN designated courses helped to spur the development of the minor. Students from many majors in nursing, engineering, business and arts and sciences expressed a strong desire to be able to enhance their career and vocational development with a minor in humanitarian action. They saw this as a natural fit for their passions and commitments, and a way to integrate being men and women for others.”
The new program is closely connected to Fairfield’s chapter of the Jesuit Universities Humanitarian Action Network (JUHAN), which helps students make the connection between their coursework and real, humanitarian needs on the ground, whether it be responding to natural disasters, refugee support, education, or advocacy for clean water.
Nicole Wroblewski ’18, an international studies major, decided to minor in the program because of its active, crises-solving focus. “In school I am always taking classes related to humanitarian action, history or anything international related and when I'm not in school I'm usually volunteering or doing some kind of service trip, so it made sense to pick it for my minor,” she said. “In international studies I especially like to focus on why crises happen around the world and I think the minor compliments this interest of mine.”
Six courses are needed to complete the minor and are available in a variety of disciplines. Dr. Leatherman reported that the Teagle Foundation has provided Fairfield with generous funding over the past six years that has enabled faculty to develop courses, service learning and internships that laid the groundwork for the minor, complementing the leadership, training and other extra-curricular opportunities available through the JUHAN student club.
Wroblewski noted that a trip to volunteer at the Simply Smiles nonprofit located at a Native American reservation in South Dakota was a stand-out opportunity for her in that it shed light onto the life of many Native Americans today. “That has been one of the best experiences in my life. I think as an American we should all understand their situation today as well as what we did to impact their lives. It was one of the most emotional trips I’ve ever been on, but it was a one-of-a-kind experience and you fall in love with the people.”
Careers and service opportunities related to humanitarian action are also on the rise due to the increasing number, scope and intensity of humanitarian emergencies. Wroblewski said, “Once I graduate I would like to join the Jesuit Volunteer Corp and then eventually work at an NGO. As long as I'm helping someone, I’m very open to where I end up.”
Dr. Leatherman said, “A strong cohort of Fairfield students see themselves as humanitarians, and want to bring their skills and professional development to respond to disasters, alleviate suffering and help communities local and global to recover and thrive.”
Pictured: Nicole Wroblewski '18 (L) working at Simply Smiles, a nonprofit assisting a Native American reservation in South Dakota.