Dedicated since its founding in 1789 to excellence in education that is rooted in service to the Church and to the democratic ideals of the new nation, Georgetown University entered the third millennium with a firmly grounded commitment to “justice and the common good,” as itsmission statementproclaims. The Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching and Service (CSJ), which opened its doors in January 2001, is a concrete and imaginative manifestation of that commitment. With origins in the work of the Task Force on Social Justice and of the preparatory work for the Jesuit Colleges and Universities 2000 Conference at the University of Santa Clara on “Justice in Jesuit Higher Education,” CSJ has a mission that is simple to state but far-reaching in its implications:
In order to advance justice and the common good, CSJ promotes and integrates community-based research, teaching and service by collaborating with diverse partners and communities.
CSJ is guided by that mission as it strives to consolidate and develop work in its three key areas: community and public service, curriculum and pedagogy, and research. First, it incorporates and builds on decades of vibrant student direct service and social action, and the learning those foster, whether from tutoring and mentoring or educating and organizing. Georgetown University has long been known for the compassionate service and social action of its students. In the late seventies, there was a Center for Volunteer and Public Service which helped coordinate that work. Today, CSJ builds on that work and is home to both staff- and student-led programs that energize community and public service and social action in the District and beyond. This work, along with new opportunities, is integrated and enhanced through collaboration with the curriculum-pedagogy and research work of CSJ.
Second, CSJ promotes and helps develop curricular offerings that incorporate social justice issues and, for some faculty, the particular pedagogy of Community-Based Learning (CBL). One particular type of CBL is the 4th Credit Option for Social Action, a national model and one of the first such university programs when it was founded over 20 years ago, enabling students to earn one extra credit by integrating in an intellectually rigorous way course-related community-based work for social justice. CSJ advances the various kinds of curricular work through faculty workshops, course development grants, and the provision of other resources to enable more faculty to learn about ways of incorporating social justice themes and pedagogical practices into their courses.
Third, CSJ serves as a catalyst for community-based research, building on the work of two former entities: the Center for Urban Research and Teaching, founded in 1997, and the 1999 program called PURS, Partners in Urban Research and Service-Learning, a collaborative project that brought together ten Georgetown social science faculty and community leaders to develop research projects serving the community. With the assistance of a $400,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, PURS established the Georgetown Community Outreach and Partnership Center (GCOPC), which addressed a number of concerns related to neighborhood development, including the reduction of violence and crime among adolescents, the enhancement of planning and community organization, and the development of new neighborhood-based economic opportunities. CSJ builds on that work as it seeks to provide research opportunities for Georgetown University faculty and students to work in partnership with communities in the District and beyond in order to develop the assets or the communities and to bring additional needed resources to them in a mutually beneficial way.
CSJ’s work is done in collaboration with other University offices, individuals, and programs that seek to develop the University’s work in justice, thereby making such work more visible, better coordinated and more fruitful. Ultimately, more students, faculty and staff will be able to channel their scholarly and personal energies into working creatively with others to make a difference with and for the residents in the District of Columbia’s most challenged neighborhoods, and for those in the world beyond. Through such critical and engaged work in this propitious time, Georgetown builds on its tradition of academic excellence and contributes in singular ways to the Jesuit ideal of justice education and action “for the glory of God and the well-being of humankind.”
Dedicated since its founding in 1789 to excellence in education that is rooted in service to the Church and to the democratic ideals of the new nation, Georgetown University entered the third millennium with a firmly grounded commitment…