L‘Arche Community Seminar

Social Concerns Seminar
CSC 33968
THEO 33968
PSY 23852

L'Arche communities were created by Jean Vanier (winner of the Notre Dame Award for international humanitarian service) to provide places where people with disabilities and people without disabilities can live and work together in the spirit of the beatitudes. There are over 110 communities in 30 countries. The mission of L'Arche is to create homes where the unique value of each individual is realized and celebrated. L'Arche began in 1964 in Trosly-Breuil, France when founder Jean Vanier invited three men with developmental disabilities to live with him. He named the home L'Arche in reference to Noah's Ark—to be a place of refuge and new beginnings. L'Arche USA is comprised of 13 communities and two projects throughout the United States. Please visit the websites of L'Arche USA.

Each of the communities across North America is different.  All of the residents seek to create communities where people with disabilities ("Core Members") can actualize their potential through a full life that guarantees their fundamental human rights—to a home, to meaningful relationships, to an education, to satisfying work, and to enjoyment.

Despite the fact that the individual homes are interspersed throughout the city and nearby suburbs, a strong sense of community life and contact among households prevails. The Core Members live family style with people without disabilities ("Assistants"). Numerous assistants come from across the globe, and these varying nationalities and stories enrich the community. Some assistants reside in the community for a year or two, but others have made it their long-term home—even marrying and raising their family in L'Arche.

A central tenant of L'Arche is that core members have a unique gift for communicating deep spiritual values due to their simplicity and vulnerability. Assistants, visitors and volunteers from all over the world can bear witness to the deep and lasting impact that core members have had on their lives.

The goal of the L'Arche Seminar is to introduce students to the philosophy of Jean Vanier and to the model of service that his writings inspired. Students will also witness how living in a L'Arche community has influenced the lives of the core members, assistants, and others. Students will likely have some opportunity to communicate with other organizations about their advocacy and policy work that relates to people with disabilities. There will be many opportunities to observe, reflect, and learn through this experience. 

Class Dates: Thursdays from 5:00 - 6:30 from January 31, 2019 - April 4, 2019

Immersion Dates: Friday, March 8–Saturday, March 16, 2019 (these dates include the likely travel time which has yet to be arranged)

Size: Approximately 9 students, including leaders (pending lodging capacity confirmation from the L'Arche Community)

Things to note:

  • As part of participation in a seminar, we seek to live intentionally and simply during the immersion. We ask that you take the opportunity to invest fully embrace the change of pace and amenities.
  • You will receive more specific details from your seminar leaders during preparation classes.
  • You must participate in all class sessions and entire immersion in order to complete requirements for the course. 
  • Site leaders will be liaison with community partner contacts.
Social Issues: 
$300 charged to your student account upon completion of the seminar (financial assistance available based on need)
Application Process: 
  • Application process is a completed application. 
  • You cannot register for the seminar until you receive registration information from Seminars staff.
  • Notification of seminar placement will happen after final application deadline.
  • If you are not selected for participation in your first choice of seminars, you will be given the opportunity to participate in another seminar if there is still availability.
  • No admittance into the seminar after the first class (see seminar calendar of events)
  • By submitting the application, you confirm you are in good academic standing.
  • With questions about your application, email seminars@nd.edu.


  • Spring 2019 CSC Seminars Application is now closed. For information about the potential being on the waiting list, please contact seminars@nd.edu.


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