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Center for Social Concerns


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Winter Seminars





Social concerns seminars are one-credit service learning and community-based learning courses with experiential learning immersion components imbedded within the course. Most immersion components take place during fall, winter, and spring break and involve students traveling to a variety of locations to engage social concerns topics within their contexts. Students examine social issues from a variety of perspectives, engage in mutually beneficial relationships with the community, read relevant texts, study the role of catholic social tradition (CST), and take ownership in building active learning communities throughout their educational experience within the seminar. 

We hope you will join us this year for such a journey.

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.

Please note: winter seminars have two different application deadlines.

Winter seminar locations


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.).

Social Concerns Seminar:

Church and Social Action: Urban Plunge 

The Urban Plunge is a one-credit experiential learning course designed to give students a brief but important opportunity to engage with communities experiencing poverty in U.S. cities. With sites in most major cities, students will spend 2–4 days in a city close to their hometown with the chance of spending time with people who face the challenges of poverty and those organizations and folks who work to support them and/or work to eradicate this inequity. Leading up to and during this immersion, students will examine the root causes of poverty in urban areas focusing on dimensions such as opportunity, race, mental health, faith-based efforts, gender, housing, criminal justice system, and employment. Immersions are in early January.


Social Concerns Seminar: Border Issues

This seminar will expose students to diverse perspectives about México-U.S. border and immigration issues. During the winter break students will travel to the Southern Arizona borderlands and will attend legal proceedings focused on immigration, participate in humanitarian service efforts for migrants, hear religious leaders discuss their current and past border ministry work, and travel through the desert and ports of entry assuming that security is not an issue.



Social Concerns Seminar: Organizing, Power and Hope

Students are invited to experience the field of community organizing through this faith-based seminar in Chicago, engaging leaders from neighborhood organizations and churches who are actively responding to social needs. This seminar is intended for students with previous urban experience eager to sharpen their social analysis skills, and to learn new forms of ministry for adults committed to social justice. Because of the unique partnership between the Sisters of St. Casimir and the Center for Social Concerns, there will be an emphasis on spirituality and community participation by all in the seminar.


Social Concerns Seminar: Urban Poverty and Causes of Homelessness

Over 16,000 people, including more than 2,000 children, live without adequate food and shelter in the state of Oregon. Although the city of Portland, Oregon manages to provide shelter for almost half of this population, the number of individuals affected by poverty and homelessness continues to rise. This seminar examines the many myths associated with homelessness and explores the larger cycle of urban poverty from diverse interdisciplinary perspectives.




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