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Center for Social Concerns


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Fall Semester Seminars


Social Concerns Seminars are one-credit experiential and service-learning opportunities built around national and international immersion experiences. Students examine social issues from multiple perspectives, read relevant texts, study the Catholic social tradition, and take an active role in building a learning community. Placements will be posted on the application webpage once confirmed. Accepted students will receive email notification when the site has been updated. Accepted St. Mary's College students need to register through the SMC/ND Co-Exchange Program.


New this year!

Social Concerns Seminar Leadership

New this year to the seminars program is an early recruitment for student leaders for 2014–2015 social concerns seminars. Seminar student leader positions include leading peers at Appalachia sites, Urban Plunge sites, and within smaller seminars (Energy Policy, Migrant Experience, Health Care etc.).


New this year!

Social Concerns Seminar: Hands of St. André:

A Seminage to André House in Phoenix 

This seminage (seminar/pilgrimage) will examine the life and spirit of St. André Bessette and the multiple ways in which humanity is impoverished (financial and spiritual).



Social Concerns Seminar: Appalachia

The Fall 2014 Appalachia Seminar is Joy and Hope: Here and in the Hollers

The goal of the Appalachia Seminar is to introduce students to the culture and social issues of the Appalachia region through community-based learning. The course provides an opportunity for active participation in the community and fosters direct relationships with Appalachian people. Exploration begins on campus in orientation classes where students become acquainted with the history, culture, and challenges facing the region.



Social Concerns Seminar: Appalachia Advanced Topic –Rural Health Care
Partnering with The Community Crossing, Inc., this seminar will provide an intensive focus on rural health care in McDowell County, West Virginia. Through shadowing in various clinics, meetings with local health care providers, interaction with locals, and service to the community in Welch, WV, students will be confronted with the complexities of rural health care and consider how Catholic Social Teaching informs our response to the needs of people in communities like this. This group of students will take preparation classes uniquely crafted to prepare them for engagement in this community.


Social Concerns Seminar: Energy, Climate, and Social Change

The course will introduce students to the scientific, environmental, economic, geopolitical, and social implications of current energy technologies. During the immersion week in Washington, D.C., students will identify the limitations of current energy policies and environmental regulation through visits to industry lobbying groups, policy makers, environmental and religious organizations, and federal regulatory bodies.



Social Concerns Seminar: Gospel of Life

This seminar will examine life-related issues such as the death penalty, euthanasia, abortion, human cloning, and stem cell research through experiential learning. Immersed in Washington, D.C., participants will meet with representatives from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, elected officials, advocacy groups, legal professionals, and bioethicists whose work involves life-related concerns.



Social Concerns Seminar: Latino Community Organizing Against Violence

The Latino Community Organizing Against Violence Seminar explores the rich cultural heritage of Chicago's ethnic neighborhoods and immigrant traditions while examining the corresponding problems of urban life and racism. The Seminar’s focus is a week-long immersion in Chicago that involves dialogue with various community groups, participation in ethnic activities, and academic reflection.



Leadership Training in Social Concerns Seminar

This seminar will serve to prepare fall seminar leaders for immersion experiences over fall break. The seminar aims to improve overall leadership skills, facilitate communal learning across seminars, and uniformly prepare leaders for the specific aspects of Center seminars. The course will consist of approximately 4–6 classes around a particular leadership theme led by a variety of Center staff and faculty. The format for the class will be a 30-minute training session followed by small group discussion. The Experiential Learning Council sponsors the seminar and curriculum will be co-coordinated by student leaders. This seminar will culminate in leading an immersion seminar. Departmental approval required.


Social Concerns Seminar Directed Readings Options


Fall Semester Courses


Poverty and Development in Chile

The Poverty and Development Course in Santiago, Chile, is a multi-disciplinary course combining experiential and service learning with social analysis, theological reflection and ethical viewpoints. The course is taught by Professor Isabel Donoso at the Jesuit University Alberto Hurtado, which has many graduate and undergraduate academic resources in the social sciences, theology, and new forms of education.


Social Concerns Seminar: Discernment 

Available to seniors only; does not include an immersion

The Discernment Seminar provides senior-level undergraduate students an opportunity to reflect on their Notre Dame experience and consider postgraduate plans with one another through small-group discussion. Each session is structured to assist the students’ exploration and articulation of their respective vocations through a variety of means, including narrative theology, spiritual direction, literature, and the arts.


Social Concerns Seminar: Hyper-Incarceration  

Does not include an immersion

The aim of this course, offered alongside the Center for Social Concerns year-long series of events focusing on justice and education, is to help raise awareness of hyper-incarceration and of its effects. But awareness is not enough. It is important also to think critically about the practice of incarcerating massive numbers of black and brown people, and about the values and systems that practice reflects. In doing so, we will examine how we personally respond to injustice–both in our own choices as community members and in what we ask our institutions to do in our names. We will also ask whether and how silence allows a system to deny citizens their full range of civil rights, including a right to an education.



New this year!

Community-Based Research: Geotagging the Near Northwest Neighborhood

This introductory seminar will introduce students to Community-Based Research (CBR) as a model for the research process. CBR supports democratic processes by involving academic researchers and community partners in addressing community problems. It is, therefore, a collaborative research process oriented toward community improvement. Students will participate in shared learning about the CBR process through readings, discussions, and examples of applications with invited faculty, student, and community partners who are engaged in CBR. Students will have the opportunity to be involved in CBR with a local organization or group.



Rethinking Crime and Justice: Exploration from the Inside Out

(includes a weekly trip to a correctional facility)

This course brings Notre Dame students together with incarcerated students at Westville Correctional Facility to explore the causes and costs of crime, consider myths and realities related to punishment, and develop ideas for responding more effectively to crime in our communities. This course follows the Inside-Out model of prison exchange now well established across the United States. ( Students must apply and be selected to enroll in the course.

New this year!

Leadership and Social Change

This course actively explores means to promote positive social change and the common good. How do leaders foster a sense of human potential, moral imagination, and common purpose? What new models of learning, organization, and collaboration may contribute to efforts to address social challenges such as income inequality, youth at risk, environmental change, and political/global divisions? What can we learn from Catholic social tradition and research on ethical development to work toward a just word? Such questions will form the basis of our dialogue and research together.



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