AJCU International Education Conference Promotes Global Education at Jesuit Institutions

By Andreas Sobisch, Ph.D., Director, Center for Global Education, John Carroll University

The AJCU International Education Conference is comprised of international educators at Jesuit colleges and universities: individuals who are involved primarily in planning and implementing study abroad and exchanges, international student services, and international recruiting and admissions. While the Conference was formally established only a decade ago and by-laws were not crafted until 2011 (reflecting the fact that international education, in its modern form, is a relatively new endeavor), informally, the contacts among AJCU international education professionals go back more than two decades.

The Conference meets two times per year: once in late May at the main national convention of international education professionals (NAFSA), and once at our “Mid-Year Meeting” in early November. The latter meeting has evolved into a formal, 2-3 day conference, involving participants from all over the world. In fact, what sets the AJCU International Education Conference apart from most other AJCU conferences is its global ambition: over the years, close connections have developed between the Conference members and their counterparts in Latin America, Asia, and, more recently, Europe. These connections among our associations are the result of the strong bi-lateral relationships with Jesuit institutions from around the world that almost all of our AJCU institutions have established over the years. In fact, many of these relationships are decades-old. The responsibility for hosting the annual mid-year meeting alternates between an AJCU member institution and an institution from AUSJAL(Asociación de Universidades Confiadas a la Compañía de Jesús en América Latina), AJCU’s Latin American counterpart.

The International Education Conference has an Executive Board, consisting of six members selected by the Chief International Officers, or their supervisors, of our 28 institutions. In addition to the NAFSA and mid-year meetings, the Board typically meets twice per year at the AJCU office in Washington, D.C. to develop our agenda and plan our meetings. By-laws were drafted in 2011 after a thorough discussion of the purposes of the Conference. In addition to the general goal of promoting and developing “global education” among AJCU member institutions, and supporting each other in practical ways, the Conference seeks collaboration and partnership with Jesuit institutions worldwide and strives to shape the debate about the purpose of global education. It is understood by all that the Jesuit mission, particularly the promotion of justice, has to be at the center of our efforts.

Our Conference's first major accomplishment was the drafting of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), establishing the AJCU Consortium for Study Abroad with the purpose of enhancing international opportunities for our students under the AJCU umbrella. Recognizing that the availability of diverse study abroad programs is central to a liberal arts education and that a wide menu of high quality international offerings serves as a major recruitment tool, the Consortium seeks to facilitate a near seamless process of sharing study abroad opportunities among Consortium members. To date, 27 of 28 AJCU institutions have signed the Consortium’s MoA, which was formalized in 2011 after three years of discussion. The Conference established a website, www.jesuiteducationabroad.org, whose purpose is not only to catalogue our “basket of shared programs,” but also to enhance communication among Consortium members, and Jesuit institutions worldwide. 

At the 2012 mid-year meeting in Quito, Ecuador, a task force, consisting of representatives from several U.S. and Latin American Jesuit institutions, was created. This Task Force, which met in Puebla, Mexico soon thereafter, was charged with identifying ways to further increase the “quantity and quality of collaborative activities across Jesuit institutions” in the Americas and with “developing procedures and strategies that would allow institutions that share the Jesuit tradition to further their internationalization goals, while reflecting their history and mission and building on previous experiences of inter-institutional collaboration."*

In their deliberations, the Task Force members tried to be responsive to the Jesuit Superior General’s, Rev. Adolfo Nicolás, S.J., admonition, at a major international Jesuit conference in Mexico City in 2010, that it is time for Jesuit universities and their regional organizations to “…expand … and build more universal [and] more effective international networks of Jesuit higher education.” [Shaping the Future, 2010]

Among the Task Force’s recommendations were that Jesuit institutions in the Americas should develop special and distinct joint academic programs (e.g. “Claver International Programs”) that are personally transformative and prevent the “globalization of superficiality” (Fr. Nicolás’ words) from spreading. They should be rooted in our Jesuit tradition of promoting “depth of thought and imagination" and integrating “intellectual rigor with reflection on the experience of reality together with the creative imagination to work toward constructing a more humane, just, sustainable, and faith-filled world.”

At the subsequent meetings since then, at Universidad Pacifico in Lima, Peru, and at Loyola University Chicago, discussions focused on Fr. Nicolás’ theme as well as on the implementation of the recommendations of the “Puebla Document.” A number of programs have already been developed, serving as models for other institutions to emulate. The community of Jesuit international education professionals is a strong and creative force, and the AJCU International Education Conference plays a leading role in its growth.

The opportunities that exist for collaboration in international education programs have steeled the Conference’s resolve and help forge a more vibrant and active organization. The on-going support from AJCU is deeply appreciated by Conference members.

Andreas Sobisch, Ph.D. is the former chair of the AJCU International Education Conference.

*Quotes from internal AJCU International Education Conference Task Force document

Federal Relations

By Cynthia A. Littlefield, Vice President for Federal Relations, AJCU

The Chairman’s Proposed Higher Education Issues

In March, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released three concept and proposal papers: Federal Postsecondary Data Transparency and Consumer Information; Risk-Sharing/Skin-in-the-Game; and Higher Education Accreditation. Higher education associations and interested parties should file responses to the Senate HELP Committee by April 24th. While the proposals only cover three broad areas, they do suggest direction for the Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA).

The Risk-Sharing white paper expresses concern about student loan debt and the increasing rate of non-compliance by students who drop out of college, claiming that 70% of this population are responsible for non-repayment on their loans. Yet, one of the proposals calls for assessing a 1% fee from college/university operating budgets for failure by students to pay back their loan debts. In addition, this paper calls for the elimination of a 90/10 accounting provision for for-profits and the elimination of the gainful employment regulation. This higher education tax proposal is extremely problematic for colleges and universities; it will do very little to assist them with providing increased access for needy students to attend college because of the potential loss of funds that would have been directed toward institutional aid. The proposal simply does not work.

The Federal Postsecondary Data paper calls for more transparency and eliminating data that are unused and unnecessary: AJCU would concur with that proposal. The purpose of data collecting is for policymakers and consumers, yet very few consumers utilize the information. As privacy remains a critical issue with regard to accumulating student data, an exemption to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) may be in order, and would have to be seriously considered by many higher education entities. This white paper also states that the Department of Education should only deliver on data requests by Congress and not operate without statutory authority.

The Accreditation paper reaffirms the peer review process that colleges and universities have been using as an accountability mechanism for many years. With the emergence of different education platforms like MOOCs, online program offerings need to be assessed for quality assurance. The question then becomes, who should handle the federal student aid side of the equation, while also trying to ascertain quality of a course. These are but a few of the suggestions made by Senator Alexander and will draw serious discussion in the months ahead.

The higher education community, including AJCU, will respond separately to these three proposals. This begins the dialogue on adjusting the Higher Education Act to incorporate new trends and mechanisms that have emerged since the last Reauthorization in 2008. AJCU will be there every step of the way.

The FY16 Budget Tight Rope

The House and Senate Budget Committees have begun the process of conferencing the FY16 budget. At stake is a potential cut of $90 billion to Pell grant mandatory funding. If adopted and confirmed by authorizing committees, the Pell grant maximum award could decrease by more than $900 per student, which would place a tremendous hardship on institutions to make up for this substantial cut. In addition, 302(b) levels, which authorize appropriation levels, will be decided; it is widely expected that these levels will be below the FY10 levels.

The higher education community has organized a social media campaign through the Student Aid Alliance, using the hashtag, #SaveStudentAid. Representatives from Jesuit institutions, including students, are strongly urged to use Twitter and other social media to push hard against massive cuts to federal student aid.

Transform Thinking, Transform the World: JesuitNET Global Partners with JC:HEM and JRS

By Deanna I. Howes, Director of Communications, AJCU

In the picturesque, rolling hills of West Virginia lies an historic building in downtown Wheeling; one might never guess that a team of sixteen people are working here to create something very special -- and very Ignatian. This team from JesuitNET Global works exclusively with Jesuit Commons: Higher Education at the Margins (JC:HEM), under the direction of International Director Dr. Mary McFarland, to ensure access to higher education for marginalized populations across the world.

“The academic offerings from JC:HEM reach intelligent and engaged students around the world, who live at the margins of society. Courses are built on the cornerstones of ‘global thinking-multicultural perspective-Ignatian pedagogy-high quality-low cost.’ They would not be possible without the expertise of subject matter experts and the incredible team of professionals with JesuitNET Global,” said Dr. McFarland.

According to Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), 51 million refugees are forcibly displaced across the world, including 26 million in Africa. Many live in camps with limited opportunities for career growth or education. But JC:HEM is working hard to change that. Through partnerships with JRS and JesuitNET Global, JC:HEM brings to life the dream of many refugees and other marginalized people who wish to pursue higher education.

After receiving a grant to fund course development last year, McFarland contacted JesuitNET Global’s Executive Director, Cindy Bonfini-Hotlosz, to discuss how to coordinate her team in the design and production of online courses for refugees in pursuit of their diplomas. Bonfini-Hotlosz had spent years overseeing course production for online programs at Fordham University and Gonzaga University through her role with JesuitNET, the Jesuit distance education network affiliated with the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities [AJCU]. Over time, she assembled a talented team of instructional designers, technologists and video production assistants who could do the job.

“This work is critical – not only to those we serve, but to us as we move forward in an age when resources can be measured and costs can be contained,” said Bonfini-Hotlosz, who now serves in an additional role as Chief Information Officer of JC:HEM. “The solutions that work at the margins inform and improve our ability to scale.“

Last summer, Bonfini-Hotlosz put her team to work to begin developing thirty online courses to comprise a liberal studies curriculum, including concentrations in business, education and, beginning in 2015, social work. The courses needed to be academically challenging, visually appealing, ADA-compliant and rooted in Ignatian pedagogy. The latter criteria is, of course, what makes the JC:HEM online diploma program so unique.

Under the direction of JC:HEM’s Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Neil Sparnon, an International Curriculum Oversight Steering Committee convened to answer the question, “What does an educated person need to know to contribute to the world today?” Their conversations helped them to build the core competencies of a curriculum that drives the work of JesuitNET Global.

Bonfini-Hotlosz’s instructional designer, Amy Pinkerton, is a 2013 Wheeling Jesuit University graduate who works with subject matter experts (SMEs) to incorporate Ignatian pedagogy and multimedia learning theory into their courses. Many of the SMEs are professors of Jesuit colleges and universities, including Dr. Anne Nebel of Georgetown University, who designed a course on academic writing, and Dr. Patrick Daubenmire of Loyola University Chicago, who designed a course on integrated science.

Although Pinkerton came to JesuitNET Global with a degree in psychology and familiarity with multimedia learning theory, she received training in Ignatian pedagogy through the Competency and Assessment in Distributed Education (CADE) program, led by Bonfini-Hotlosz. Pinkerton says that the training took several months, but helped to guide her work with the SMEs. She said, “The best part [about this job] is the incredible opportunity to work one on one with SMEs to take their thinking process, refine it and share it with cultures across the world. You put it in a way to help students understand [and learn].”

The SMEs create content and submit their courses to Bonfini-Hotlosz’s art director and production assistants, who work together to format them for videos and PowerPoint presentations. Many of the SMEs record video lectures, which the production assistants edit and post on a private YouTube channel. While YouTube serves as the video host, the courses are hosted on BlackBoard, and students who take them are enrolled through the online Banner registration program. Georgetown University has generously provided JC:HEM with Banner and server space.

The process of building a course from start to finish lasts roughly six months and involves considerable audio-visual enhancement. According to Bonfini-Hotlosz, "The trick with all of our courses is to make them universally applicable and for us to be able to facilitate a global dialogue. [Students] can learn from art and analyze it by looking through new eyes."

Dennis Packer is the art director for JesuitNET Global; he arrived at GCS from NASA, after working in studio art in Hollywood for decades. A 2014 graduate of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Ryan Tichenor is one of Bonfini-Hotlosz’s youngest staff members and works as a production assistant. Together, he and Packer find images to match text in PowerPoint lectures and create multimedia materials to accompany the courses. Tichenor said, "The most rewarding part of working here has been combining creativity and education."

The day-to-day work of JesuitNET Global staff is never the same, nor is it ever easy. The technology and equipment available in refugee camps are considerably less sophisticated than those in the United States. Bonfini-Hotlosz said, “We still struggle with all kinds of variables that we never thought of…The power will go out and if the power goes out, the internet goes out and that's disheartening for the students." Students travel great distances to access the computers in the refugee camps for their online courses and often rely on their own self-motivation to complete their education.

JC:HEM has a network of coordinators who facilitate the on-site learning experience. Volunteers from JRS, Gonzaga University, John Carroll University, Regis University, Santa Clara University and the University of San Francisco have donated equipment, time, and services. Georgetown University has provided a complete online student unit records system that has helped JC:HEM extend its course offerings.

Although the JesuitNET Global staff keep production costs low, their work is supported entirely by grants to JC:HEM. In December 2014, Deene Yenchochic, JesuitNET Global’s Chief of Staff, launched an online giving campaign via GoFundMe, called 12 Days of Giving. By exposing a broader audience to JC:HEM through this popular platform, Yenchochic hopes to see it grow and expand to other refugee camps across the world.

A young organization, JC:HEM has considerable support from the Society of Jesus: the Secretary for Jesuit Higher Education, Rev. Michael Garanzini, S.J., co-chairs the JC:HEM board with the International Director of JRS, Rev. Peter Balleis, S.J. Regis University is the accrediting institution for the JC:HEM online diploma in liberal studies.

JesuitNET Global also enjoys close ties with Jesuit colleges and universities through the many SMEs they have recruited to design courses. Bonfini-Hotlosz says that these relationships across the AJCU and global Jesuit networks are key to JC:HEM’s growing success. She said, “What's interesting is the power of our connections with the faculty at our schools who have come forward to work together. We know the correlation between education and poverty: high education means low conflict."

JC:HEM's tagline sums it up quite simply: “Transform thinking, transform the world.”

For more information on JC:HEM, please visit: www.jc-hem.org.

Le Moyne College Fosters Global Jesuit Business Connections

By Molly Kathleen McCarthy, Writer/ Editor, Le Moyne College Office of Communications

The entire MBA cohort from St. Aloysius College in Mangalore, India in attendance for a 90-minute lecture by Jim Joseph, dean of the Madden School of Business. (Photo courtesy of Le Moyne College)

The entire MBA cohort from St. Aloysius College in Mangalore, India in attendance for a 90-minute lecture by Jim Joseph, dean of the Madden School of Business. (Photo courtesy of Le Moyne College)

The world – if not growing smaller – is certainly more interconnected than ever before.

To that end, it’s incumbent upon today’s business leaders to embrace both the challenges and opportunities associated with 21st century globalization. That is no small task. In order to serve their customers and their communities, these managers, presidents and CEOs must negotiate myriad forces – including technological advances and the free market – with skill and alacrity. How best to prepare today’s students to enter this marketplace is a question at the forefront of the minds of business school deans around the world. At Le Moyne College's Madden School of Business, administrators and faculty members are preparing tomorrow’s executives in part by tapping into the network of nearly 200 Jesuit colleges and universities around the world.

“Our aim is to develop men and women with an entrepreneurial spirit, a deep commitment to the highest standards of ethics, and the capacity to think beyond traditional borders,” said Jim Joseph ’83, dean of the Madden School. “We are striving to reach that goal not just through our coursework, but through a number of innovative new collaborations.”

Joseph was recently elected to the board of the International Association of Jesuit Business Schools (IAJBS), a global network that supports teaching, research, service and social activism. This summer, he will travel to the organization’s world forum in Montevideo, Uruguay, for the formal launch of the Global Jesuit Case Series (GJCS) and its first advisory board meeting.

The GJCS is a growing online repository of real-world business cases from as far away as St. Aloysius College in Mangalore, India. Easily accessible to students worldwide, the GJCS emphasizes the ideals espoused by Saint Ignatius Loyola, including moral leadership and social responsibility. In 2013, the Pedro Arrupe S.J. Program of Christian Social Ethics in Business moved from the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University, where it had been located for nearly 20 years, to the Madden School. The Arrupe Program invites educators, theologians and corporate leaders from across the globe to come together to explore moral questions related to business. Beyond that, it serves as the home of one of the Madden School’s flagship initiatives, the Woodstock Business Conference (WBC). Because the cases highlight many ethical dimensions of conducting business in the 21st century, there is a natural synergy between the GJCS and the WBC.

With 14 chapters around the world, including two in Europe, the WBC and its members are dedicated to exploring ideas related to the integration of faith and work. The chapters link local business leaders with business school deans to strengthen the connections between study, research and practice. In addition, they provide opportunities for mentoring, teaching, and programming, as well as internship and employment prospects that benefit both graduates and local employers. Regular chapter meetings allow like-minded attendees to engage in sustained conversations about how to conduct business in ways that align with their ethics and values.

Last year, the Madden School launched its Madden Everywhere Tour. Its purpose is manifold: to prepare students to work across cultural and geographic boundaries, to forge connections between Le Moyne and other Jesuit business schools around the world, and to promote the Madden School and its mission abroad. To date, Madden Everywhere has featured lectures by Fernando Diz, Ph.D., the M.J. Whitman Professor of Finance at Syracuse University. Le Moyne faculty members, including Martha Grabowski, Ph.D., the McDevitt Chair in Information Systems, have utilized the tour to form collaborations with prominent business, community and university leaders on three continents. In addition, Jinhu Qian, Ph.D., director of the finance program, will soon teach in Shanghai, China, as part of the tour. 

The Madden School’s emphasis on globalizing education goes beyond these partnerships and can be seen daily in the work that undergraduate students are doing. They are conducting research projects in places as diverse as Chennai, India; Seattle, Washington; Trondheim, Norway; and Fairbanks, Alaska, on topics as varied as the uses of Google Glass and wearable computing; logistics and supply chain modeling for oil spill response; risk advisory services in financial systems; white collar crime in government accounting systems; and Big Data analyses for cybersecurity systems.

To further cement the connection between Le Moyne and other colleges and universities worldwide, this summer, 31 students from Indonesia will spend several weeks working at the Syracuse Student Sandbox, a business incubator that aids aspiring entrepreneurs in bringing their ideas to fruition.

“As we know, St. Ignatius instructed the first Jesuits to ‘go forth and set the world on fire,’” said Joseph. “Before our students are able to do that, we must prepare them to think globally and appreciate other cultures, and encourage them to think in ways that are reflective, adaptive and emotionally intelligent.”

Rockhurst Goes Global with New Internship Program

By Tim Linn, Marketing Communications Writer, Rockhurst University

Rockhurst University junior Haley Mathews, top left, and 2014 Rockhurst graduate Melissa Hopfinger, lower right, pose for a photo with students from Ocer Campion Jesuit College in Gulu, Uganda. (Photo courtesy of Rockhurst University)

Rockhurst University junior Haley Mathews, top left, and 2014 Rockhurst graduate Melissa Hopfinger, lower right, pose for a photo with students from Ocer Campion Jesuit College in Gulu, Uganda. (Photo courtesy of Rockhurst University)

Since their founding, members of the Society of Jesus have strived to reach out not only to those in their own communities, but across the globe. A program that began last year at Rockhurst University seeks to continue that tradition, by sending a small group of students to rural Gulu, in northern Uganda, in an effort to share knowledge and to build lasting global relationships.

The program places three students for a 10-week internship at Ocer Campion Jesuit College, a residential school for middle- to high-school age students established in Gulu in 2005. Matthew Quick, Ph.D., Vice President for Student Development and Athletics at Rockhurst, said the program built off the success of Rockhurst’s existing short-term service immersion experiences. The University had an existing relationship with Gulu through a program led by Kansas City-area nursing professor David Zamierowski, M.D. that sends nursing students from the Rockhurst-affiliated Research College of Nursing, Johnson County Community College and the University of Kansas there to work in a community medical center.

“What really made the difference for us in being able to make the internship at Ocer possible was the fact that we had that relationship already through the Research College of Nursing and Johnson County Community College,” Quick said. “They spoke about the personal transformations that happened for many of their students, which galvanized our own interest in pursuing this opportunity.”

Rockhurst staff and faculty were asked to encourage students with experience in the subjects identified by Ocer officials as most necessary at the school — math or science —to apply for the internship program. Nicki Schebaum, a junior majoring in medical physics and mathematics and minoring in French, said that as soon as she learned about the opportunity, she wanted to take part.

“Just even reading through the description of the program, I knew it was something I had to do,” she said.

Schebaum was joined by Haley Mathews, a junior, and Melissa Hopfinger, ’14, both of whom were also studying science. The three students prepared for the work they would be doing by learning classroom techniques from Mary Pat Shelledy, Ed.S., the chair of the Rockhurst education department. One month before departure, the group joined the nursing students who would soon be leaving for their own program, at a retreat to learn more about what to expect from the experience.

“In a lot of the preparation, there was an emphasis on being open and listening and growing as an individual,” Shelledy said. 

Even with the preparation, Mathews and Schebaum said traveling to Gulu in mid-May made for an eye-opening experience.

“It’s like a whole different world driving from the south to the north,” Mathews said. “Kampala is the large city in the south, and as we moved closer to Gulu, the land was beautiful, but the conditions just grew more and more impoverished.”

Though trained to teach math and science in the classroom, the three Rockhurst students soon found themselves serving in a number of other capacities. While southern Uganda has experienced economic growth and political stability in recent years, the northern, predominantly rural portion of the country where Ocer is located has only recently seen relative peace after decades of war. Many of the students who Mathews and Schebaum served at Ocer bore both the physical and emotional scars of those years of conflict.

“[Many] of the students were affected by the war, some of them as child soldiers or child brides,” Mathews said. “We spent a lot of time with the students outside of the classroom as tutors and we just listened a lot — we were a kind of outlet for them.”

Both Mathews and Schebaum said they were able to form close relationships with the students. A mid-internship visit from Rockhurst President, Rev. Thomas B. Curran, S.J. was "re-energizing" and helped them to view their work as an example of “the ministry of presence.”

Quick said that the initial trip was emblematic of the hopes for the internship program in the future — that, through the 10-week immersion, the participating students from Rockhurst could gain a better understanding of the value of lifelong service and form long-lasting relationships with people from a different culture.

That includes little things. Among other lessons, Schebaum said that she has tried to incorporate the meaning behind a common Ugandan phrase, translated as “slowly, slowly,” into her everyday life. 

But it also means long-term commitments. After her internship, Hopfinger went back to Ocer to serve as an English writing instructor for the school. Mathews and Schebaum both said they have stayed in touch with the students they lived and worked with, recently learning that every single member of Ocer’s founding class passed their exit exams.

“We talk about going back all the time,” said Mathews. “The people there had kind of become part of our family. They show love in such an incredible way.”

Word has spread quickly about the program at Rockhurst. Quick said that twenty highly-qualified students applied to take part this summer, a significant increase over the first year. And one of Ocer’s administrators will soon be coming to Rockhurst to work on his graduate degree.

Quick said that it’s a sign of the growing relationship between Rockhurst and Ocer, and a great expression of the Jesuit core value of “men and women for and with others.”

The Experience of a Jesuit Education on Both Sides of the World

By Angeline Boyer, Manager of Media Relations, Saint Peter’s University

Samuel Habib '12 with an exchange student (Photo courtesy of Saint Peter's University)

Samuel Habib '12 with an exchange student (Photo courtesy of Saint Peter's University)

Saint Peter’s University established a partnership with Sogang University in October 2010 in order to expand study abroad opportunities. But what was designed as a means to inspire students to pursue international opportunities has grown to become the most popular study-abroad partnership at Saint Peter’s.

Sogang University, located in Seoul, is the only Jesuit university in South Korea. The Society of Jesus established Sogang in 1960 to provide an education based on Catholic beliefs, as well as Jesuit educational philosophy. Sogang accepts undergraduate and graduate students from colleges and universities where there is a joint academic student exchange agreement. Currently, Sogang has agreements with over 223 partner universities in 55 countries, including many Jesuit universities like Saint Peter’s.

“As a fellow Jesuit institution, Sogang University’s goals are consistent with our tradition of cura personalis or ‘care for the individual.’ Both institutions provide an education based on the fundamental values of academic excellence, leadership, service and faith and this partnership provides a unique opportunity for members of both higher education communities to enrich student learning,” said Eugene J. Cornacchia, Ph.D., president of Saint Peter’s University.

Samuel Habib ’12, who graduated with a bachelor of science in international business and trade, was the first student from Saint Peter’s to participate in the study abroad exchange program.

“I have a great passion for traveling and [experiencing] different cultures,” said Habib. “When I did some research about South Korea and Sogang, I found myself very interested to experience a much larger university than Saint Peter’s.”

Habib arrived at Sogang taking courses in international business, psychology, production and operations management, political science, English fiction and chemistry.

“I was actually the only exchange student taking that many courses,” he said. “It was very difficult to maintain because many of the classes required you to read a massive amount of material daily. I was taking 18 credits.”

While Habib’s days were spent in the classroom, his free time in the evenings – when not studying for class or a big test – found him exploring the city of Seoul with a group of friends he made at the program.

“I made friends from France, Poland, Brazil, Colombia, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Japan and Mexico,” he said. “Now I have friends internationally and will always be welcomed in nine different countries. My mind has a better understanding of life outside of the United States.”
In addition to the educational experience he had at Sogang, Habib’s time abroad also afforded him the opportunity to become immersed in the rich culture of South Korea, which he described as “a very magical place to live in and experience.”

“Not only are the people very hospitable, but you feel like you have become one of them after indulging yourself in the culture and traditions,” he said.

After many months in Seoul, Habib became accustomed to the ways of life in South Korea. The practices he learned traveled back with him to Jersey City, even if perhaps unintentionally. Such was the case with the Korean custom of bowing to an individual as a means of thanking them.

“When I returned home, I was actually bowing to people since I got used to it in Korea,” Habib recalled.

Habib describes his experiences in South Korea as “unforgettable,” but relayed that there is truly no place like the scholarly homestead on John F. Kennedy Boulevard in Jersey City, NJ known as Saint Peter’s.

“In Sogang, there are about 90 to 110 students per class,” Habib said. “So you are basically just a number. Saint Peter’s offers a small classroom experience. I feel that professors at the University care for you and you are not just a number.”

Since Habib’s trip, a number of other Saint Peter’s students have studied at Sogang. In fact, 28 students from a wide array of programs have since participated in the semester-long program. 

Franciso DeJesus ’14, a graduate of the communication program at Saint Peter’s, found the experience to be completely life-changing. “To be surrounded by a lifestyle and culture so different from my own helped me to better understand how diverse the world is. Furthermore, being surrounded by fellow exchange students from all around the world helped [me] better understand myself. Anyone interested in studying abroad should go for it; it is one of the best decisions I have ever made.” 

“We are extremely pleased with the success of the Sogang University partnership,” said Wendy Garay, director of the Center for Global Learning. “The Center is always interested in new ideas for academic exchange and study abroad programs. We are currently working to diversify our portfolio and expand options for our students.”

For more information about study abroad programs at Saint Peter’s or the Center for Global Learning, please click here.

Santa Clara University's Growing Jesuit Network Connections

By Deborah Lohse, Assistant Director for Media Relations, Santa Clara University

Santa Clara University students being welcomed by students at Xavier Institute of Engineering, Mumbai, in an Indian tradition of pasting sandalwood paste on their forehead and throwing flower petals. (Photo courtesy of Santa Clara University)

Santa Clara University students being welcomed by students at Xavier Institute of Engineering, Mumbai, in an Indian tradition of pasting sandalwood paste on their forehead and throwing flower petals. (Photo courtesy of Santa Clara University)

Since 2008, when Jesuit Superior General Rev. Adolfo Nicolás, S.J. issued a call for greater coordination and collaboration among the nearly 200 Jesuit institutions of higher education worldwide, a growing number of Santa Clara University departments, centers and leaders have formed rich collaborations and teaching partnerships with international Jesuit institutions.

Many of the partnerships have, at their core, shared goals related to social justice, e.g. helping eradicate poverty through social entrepreneurship; sharing technology to address social and environmental challenges; and tapping the assets and resources of the vast Jesuit network. 

“Santa Clara is beginning to realize the potential of the huge untapped resource of the Jesuit network,” said Santa Clara electrical engineering professor and associate dean Aleksandar Zecevic, an avid proponent of collaboration among Jesuit universities. He currently teaches his science and religion class at Jesuit universities on three continents (at Santa Clara in the United States, at St. Xavier’s College in Kolkata and Mumbai, India, and at Universidad Catolica del Uruguay in Uruguay).

Embracing Social Entrepreneurship

When Santa Clara’s Center for Science, Technology, and Society set a goal five years ago to positively impact 1 billion lives through its training and mentoring program for social entrepreneurs, it became quickly apparent that the Center could not do it alone. Its leaders began turning to other Jesuit universities worldwide, some of which had already been creating programs on campus for “social entrepreneurship,” using businesses or nonprofits that are self-sustaining to help solve problems like poverty, drought, or lack of energy access.

The resulting Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI) Network now includes ten Jesuit universities and another dozen or so mission-aligned universities or programs. The growing group has met at least once a year since 2011, in Peru, Manila, Santa Clara, Mexico and Barcelona.

Jesuit partners include Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos (UNISINOS) in Brazil; ESADE in Spain; Marquette University in Milwaukee; Universidad Loyola Andalucia in Spain; Le Moyne College in Syracuse; Ateneo de Manila in the Philippines; Fu Jen in Taiwan; XLRI in India; and Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Colombia.

The group’s focus is on helping all Network members launch and strengthen their social entrepreneurship programs. Their methods of doing so vary: incubating and mentoring global social entrepreneurs (which Santa Clara has long done and ESADE, Javeriana and Marquette have replicated in various ways); supporting student immersions to help social entrepreneurs (which Ateneo and Loyola Andalucia have done); or fostering programs to motivate local residents or students to think of social entrepreneurship as a way to help the poor (which UNISINOS and Fu Jen are doing).

“Even the non-Jesuit universities in the GSBI Network have adopted social entrepreneurship as a pathway to social justice, a good outlet for student engagement, and a way for business or other schools to serve humanity,” said Hallie Noble, GSBI program manager at Santa Clara. 
Network members have begun taking the concept of incubating social entrepreneurship in new directions. For example, ESADE is helping other Jesuit universities partner with banks as a way of funding and training social entrepreneurs.

This exponential growth will continue. Santa Clara has received funding to “train the trainers” in international locations including India and Kenya, and members of the GSBI Network have created working groups to discuss new ways of student engagement, utilizing business case studies, and sparking innovative social entrepreneurship programs.

New Collaborations with UCA

Last fall, a group of ten faculty and university leaders from Universidad Centroamericana (UCA) in El Salvador visited Santa Clara to advance and enhance the longstanding relationship between the two schools.

It was the first time that a group of leaders from UCA had visited Santa Clara. They left with plans to collaborate with the University in a number of ways that are currently being explored, including:

  • Tapping Santa Clara’s development officers to help with fundraising from alumni and other donors;
  • Collaborating with Santa Clara’s law school on possible joint online courses, short joint intensive courses, or cross-clinical collaboration in various areas of law such as immigration, human rights or business;
  • Collaborating with Santa Clara’s engineering school on a possible new master’s program in computer science, and creating a new program for Santa Clara computer engineering students to study abroad at UCA. 

Leveraging Immersion Partnerships

Last summer, a group of twelve students took a three-week immersion trip to India, for the first-of-its-kind collaboration between Santa Clara’s Ignatian Center and India’s Jesuit Xavier Institute of Engineering (XIE) in Mumbai.  

As part of the trip, two engineering students taught for a week at XIE, including a class on how to make robots with visual sensors, and helping with a project analyzing nearby cellular towers for radiation. The local newspaper wrote about the project, noting the rarity of Silicon Valley students visiting Mumbai. 

This summer, Santa Clara engineering students will return to help XIE students with a project to use robots to help analyze sewage runoff and eventually replace the grueling human task of removing waste from public areas. 

The trip and collaboration with XIE was facilitated by Rev. John Rose, S.J., a Jesuit from India who has been at Santa Clara off and on since 2009, when he received his master’s degree in computer engineering. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in electrical engineering and teaches robotics and cloud computing at XIE. 

“It was wonderful to see the vibrant interaction between the students from Santa Clara and Xavier,” said Fr. John. “Their Jesuit values make them feel like they belong to one family, with everyone trying to make the world a better place.”

Wheeling Jesuit University’s Physical Therapy Students Reflect on 15 Years of Service in Yucatan Peninsula

By Philip Stahl, Public Relations Officer, Wheeling Jesuit University

Above: A handicapped man from Merida gets physical therapy instructions from Wheeling Jesuit University student Christy Shaneyfelt. (Photo courtesy of Wheeling Jesuit University)

Above: A handicapped man from Merida gets physical therapy instructions from Wheeling Jesuit University student Christy Shaneyfelt. (Photo courtesy of Wheeling Jesuit University)

For nearly two decades, Wheeling Jesuit University’s (WJU) physical therapy (PT) students have participated in an annual service-learning course that provides rehabilitative services to thousands of people in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.

Students and faculty from WJU’s PT program travel to the cities and surrounding pueblos of Merida, Izamal and Valladolid in the Yucatan to work with a number of community partners.

This spring, ten graduate students provided free PT services under the supervision and guidance of licensed clinicians from both the United States and Mexico.

WJU PT student Clayton Kubrick said, “The trip to Merida, Mexico was an incredible experience and made me realize what it is like to be engulfed in another culture. Some of my most cherished memories were educating students, working with the compassionate patients, and being able to live in a culture much different from ours.”

In fifteen years, a lot has changed on the annual trip to the Yucatan, said Dr. Mark Drnach, a WJU faculty member who has coordinated the course since its inception.

“There has been a recent transformation. Some of the ‘veterans’ who we worked with have moved onto other jobs or positions in their religious communities. There are new staff members and new community partners, but, what is important about change is that we continue to serve and have developed relationships with the people in the Yucatan. This makes our efforts sustainable and strengthens our bond with the local people,” he said.
Drnach added that this year was emotionally difficult for the group after the death of Sr. Claire Hubert, OBS.

“Sr. Claire was one of our interpreters in the Yucatan and a vital member of our team since 2001. We missed her, but knew she was with us in spirit,” said Drnach.
Sr. Hubert died on January 26th of cancer and was a member of the Sisters of St. Benedict in Erie, Pa.

Rev. William Rickle, S.J, WJU’s senior vice president for mission and ministry, accompanied the students on the trip for the second straight year. Rickle said a number of things struck him during his week with the residents and students.

“Each day begins with the group gathered together for a reading of a reflective text...The leadership team understands the importance of helping the students reflect on their experience [with] caregivers, companions, teachers, and the learners. I was struck by the transparency of both faculty and students in their reflections and observations of their own reactions to situations they encountered during the day,” said Fr. Rickle.

After they return to Wheeling, WJU students report that they are eager to get back to Mexico and further enhance their experience by helping even more people in need of physical therapy.

“Simply put, the trip was incredible. A perfect balance of learning and fun. I learned a lot from all of the other staff members and was able to experience some once-in-a-lifetime moments.

The entire week is one that I will not soon forget,” said WJU student Kyle Updyke.
Student Amanda Althouse added, "This trip to Mexico was a heavy dose of perspective. There are so many people in the world who appreciate our help and even though I couldn't speak their language, compassion is a universal language that is easily understood."

"As Christians, we often see holiness in people who lack in material items. We look at them in awe and at times feel blessed to have so much, when we see others who have so little. Rarely do we act like Simon the Cyrene and walk with them, engage with them, and help them to carry some of the burdens of life, if only for a brief period of time. Our service learning curriculum invites our students to see Christ in others and in themselves through acts of service and engagement. We do this on a local, regional and international level, which clearly reflects the Jesuit mission of being men and women in service to others," said Drnach.