Catholic Social Learning: Educating the Faith That Does Justice

Catholic Social Learning: Educating the Faith That Does Justice

Catholic Social Learning: Educating the Faith That Does Justice

Catholic Social Learning: Educating the Faith That Does Justice

Synopsis

The canon for Catholic social teaching spreads to six hundred pages,yet fewer than two pages are devoted to Catholic social learning or pedagogy. In this long-needed book, Roger Bergman begins to correct that gross imbalance. He asks: How do we educate ("lead out") the faith that does justice? How is commitment to social justice provoked and sustained over a lifetime? To address these questions, Bergman weaves what he has learned from thirty years as a faith-that-does-justice educator with the best of current scholarship and historical authorities. He reflects on personal experience; the experience of Church leaders, lay activists, and university students; and the few words the tradition itself has to say about a pedagogy for justice. Catholic Social Learningexplores the foundations of this pedagogy, demonstrates its practical applications, and illuminates why and how it is fundamental to Catholic higher education. Part I identifies personal encounters with the poor and marginalized as key to stimulating a hunger and thirst for justice. Part II presents three applications of Catholic social learning: cross-cultural immersion as illustrated by Creighton University's Semestre Dominicano program; community-based service learning; and the teaching of moral exemplars such as Dorothy Day, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and Archbishop Oscar Romero. Part III then elucidates how a pedagogy for justice applies to the traditional liberal educational mission of the Catholic university, and how it can be put into action. Catholic Social Learningis both a valuable, practical resource for Christian educators and an important step forward in the development of a transformative pedagogy.

Excerpt

Many years ago, I asked the students in an introductory Christian eth ics course, “Why are there poor people?” After some moments of uncomfortable silence, one student threw caution to the wind, raised his hand, and volunteered, “To clean up after us?” More recently, one of my students acknowledged in a reflection paper that “living in solidarity with the poor is hard, but I can’t imagine not trying.” the distance between those two comments, between moral naïveté and committed moral self-identity, is enormous. How is that distance tra versed? What sort of bridge can Catholic higher education provide to facilitate the journey?

This book is an attempt to answer that question. As the title Catholic Social Learning suggests, it is not sufficient to name the goal of the journey as commitment to Catholic social teaching (CST). the differ ence between those two students is not simply that one might have read a social encyclical, and the other probably had not. the difference is not one homework assignment, one courageous homily, one engag ing film, or even an entire course on cst. the problem is, in part, to be found within cst itself.

In the approximately 600 pages of the standard collection of docu ments that represent the canon of cst, only one and one-half pages are devoted explicitly to Catholic social learning or pedagogy. (Those brief comments will be explored in Chapter 1.) This book aims to help correct that gross imbalance. As the articulation of what I have learned . . .

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