Social Justice IN THE World

By Connell, Christopher | International Educator, January/February 2011 | Go to article overview

Social Justice IN THE World

Connell, Christopher, International Educator

A mission for social justice animates the University of San Francisco's international engagement.


Profiles of the five winners of the 2010 Senator Paul Simon Award for Campus Internationalization are being included in IE. The full set of profiles can be seen in Internationalizing the Campus 2010: Profiles of Success at Colleges and Universities.

FEW CAMPUSES PROVIDE A VIEW MORE DRAMATIC THAN THE PANORAMA of the Pacific Ocean, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the San Francisco skyline afforded by the hilltop, upper campus of the University of San Francisco. Students who come to this Jesuit university can expect to be pushed hard to venture into far less privileged precincts, as near as the streets downtown where San Francisco's homeless dwell or as far as remote hamlets in Malawi and Guatemala. Sitting in his office atop the Lone Mountain campus, President Stephen Privett, S.J., said, "For us. . .the global perspective is the realization that about 70 percent of the world lives in dire poverty. I always tell the kids that one person in 100 has a college education, so they're 1 percent of the world. The ethical question for higher education, whether Catholic, private, public, for profit, not for profit, is: What are you doing for the 99 percent?"

USF became San Francisco's first college in 1855, when Italian Jesuits opened St. Ignatius Academy after the gold rush. They were following the example of Saint Ignatius Loyola, the sixteenth century founder of the Society of Jesus. In San Francisco the Jesuits educated generations of sons and, later, daughters of immigrants. That heritage endures although today the roster of names is more diverse: not only O'Briens and Giordanos, but Nguyens, Aquinos, and Yangs. After USFs buildings were destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire, classes were held in a drab building dubbed the Shirt Factory, but in 1927 it relocated to the verdant site near Golden Gate Park and expanded in 1978 by acquiring Lone Mountain College, a Catholic women's school with Spanish Gothic architecture and those priceless views. Today USF enrolls 5,700 undergraduate and 3,500 graduate students in arts and sciences, business, law, nursing, and education. Nearly 10 percent are international students. Located in the city where the United Nations was born, USF set out a decade ago to become "internationally recognized as a premier Jesuit Catholic, urban university with a global perspective that educates leaders who wilt fashion a move humane and just world!'

USF, once a basketball power (the Dons won back-to-back NCAA basketball championships with Bill Russell and K.C. Jones in the 1950s), now wins recognition for its community service requirement. The 200,000-plus volunteer hours logged by 3,000 students each year has won laurels from the Corporation for National and Community Service.

International Studies, the Second Largest Major

The university created an Office of International Student and Scholar Services seven years ago and later opened a Center for Global Education to encourage students to study abroad and pursue professional and service internships overseas. The international studies major launched four years ago quickly became the second largest field of study in the liberal arts. "Students are going crazy for this," said Jennifer Turpin, the new provost and former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. The major combines courses from the humanities, social sciences, arts and sciences; education abroad is strongly encouraged but not required. With new hires, USF has added programs in African studies, Middle East studies, and Asian studies. Turpin, a sociologist who studied the role of Russian media in the disintegration of the Soviet Union, said, "Year after year, as I've introduced the new faculty, people say it looks like the United Nations is walking in."

Seniors Emily Saeger and Erica Ernst are two of those drawn to international studies. …

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