Friday, January 31, 2020

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has again recognized the University of Notre Dame with the Community Engagement classification, citing excellent alignment among the University’s mission, culture, leadership, resources and practices in support of “dynamic and noteworthy community engagement.”

The Carnegie Foundation introduced the Community Engagement classification as an elective classification in 2006, and Notre Dame has held the classification since 2010, when it first applied for it on a 10-year cycle.

Now on a six-year cycle, the classification recognizes “collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities (local, regional/state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.”

Notre Dame is among 359 institutions that now hold the classification, including 119 from this cycle.

The University will need to reapply for the classification in six years.

“Notre Dame’s commitment to community is rooted in the University’s Catholic ethos and character, building on the good works of our students, faculty and staff,” said Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. “The Carnegie classification is an important recognition of their initiatives.”

Jay Brandenberger, director of academic community engagement at the Office of the Provost and associate director of the Center for Social Concerns at Notre Dame, said, “Notre Dame has a long history of putting into action Father Sorin’s founding vision that University will become ‘one of the most powerful means for doing good in this country.’ We celebrate this recognition from the Carnegie Foundation, knowing it is possible only through the goodwill and commitment of a network of community partners near and far.”

Brandenberger chairs the Community Engagement Coordinating Council, which led the application for the reclassification — an 18-month process that involved data collection and documentation of important aspects of institutional mission, identity and commitments.

In recognizing Notre Dame, the Carnegie Foundation noted the University’s long history of engagement, from the work of the Robinson Community Learning Center, the Center for Social Concerns, the Institute for Educational Initiatives and the William J. Shaw Center for Children and Families, to community-based research, learning and service and voluntary contributions to communities and organizations in the South Bend-Elkhart region and beyond.

More recently, the University formed the Community Engagement Coordinating Council to integrate the many campus structures and entities that support outreach and to help enhance the University’s “engaged” status; added a new rotating faculty position, the director of academic community engagement, to the Office of the Provost; developed a University-wide portal, EngageND, to track engagement efforts and share resources; developed a summer faculty institute focused on engagement; expanded support for the Center for Social Concerns and Robinson Center; more deeply engaged graduate students with the creation of a Certificate for Community Engagement and Public Scholarship; established the Center for Civic Innovation; and enhanced engaged scholarship and research through a variety of initiatives, leading to such sustained projects as the Bowman Creek Educational Ecosystem.

Of the 119 institutions classified or reclassified this cycle, 67 are public and 52 are private. By basic classification, 52 are research universities, 39 are master’s colleges and universities, 22 are baccalaureate colleges, three are community colleges and three have a specialized focus. The institutions represent 37 states and U.S. territories.

“These newly classified and reclassified institutions are doing exceptional work to forward their public purpose in and through community engagement that enriches teaching and research while also bettering the broader community,” said Mathew Johnson of the Carnegie management team.

Since 1970, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has classified American colleges and universities as a research tool to represent and support the diversity of U.S. higher education.

For more information, visit


Contact: Jay Brandenberger, director of academic community engagement, 574-631-7943,


This piece was originally published by Notre Dame News

Friday, November 12, 2021

Employees at Starbucks locations around Buffalo, N.Y. will begin voting this week on whether they want to be represented by a union, a possible first for the coffee giant. An article published by The State, "Rare Starbucks union vote set to begin in Buffalo," emphasizes that this is just one example of increasing worker unrest in post-pandemic America. Dan Graff, Ph.D., director of the Higgins Labor Program, notes how many workers deemed essential during the pandemic still deal with pre-pandemic problems such as low wages and disrespect in the workplace. 

“It’s a fraught public space that we live in right now and more workers have had the opportunity to reflect and think about these issues,” Graff said.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

The Center for Social Concerns has selected Community Impact Grant recipients for the Fall 2021 semester. Grants are awarded to faculty and students doing community-engaged work that advances human dignity, solidarity, and the common good, values central to Catholic social tradition and the center’s mission. The grants were awarded based upon a proposal submission and selection process and are part of the center’s continuing effort to support collaboration between campus and community partners for social justice impact.

Mary Ann McDowell, professor of biological sciences, Department of Biological Sciences and Eck Institute of Global Health, Jennifer Robichaud, associate teaching professor of Biological Sciences and director of undergraduate studies, Sam Rund, research assistant professor, Center for Research Computing, and Michelle Huang, graduate student in the integrated biomedical sciences program were awarded $4,500 for “Vector Surveillance Collaboration between University of Notre Dame and St. Joseph County Health Department.” The project will expand the already successful pilot program of trapping, counting, and identifying mosquitoes trapped at Spicer Lake Nature Preserve for testing for West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus. The program will expand to include additional trapping localities and will involve tick collection, identification, and testing for the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease and Human Monocytic Ehrlichiosis.

Kyle Moon, undergraduate research assistant in Neuroscience and Behavior, Marya Lieberman, professor, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Heidi Beidinger-Burnett, associate professor of the practice, Department of Biological Sciences, Ornella Joseph, graduate student in Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, and Mike Coman, president of Monroe Park Neighborhood Association were awarded $10,000 for “Mulch Madness and More: Formation of a Community-Based Participatory Research Network to Remediate Environmental Lead Hazards in South Bend, Indiana.” The grant will support initiatives over two years, including community events to remediate soil lead and lead-based paint, an application counselor program to provide technical assistance in accessing City funding for lead remediation and abatement, and an evaluation of the City’s grant program to provide recommendations to increase the number of homes receiving funding.

Margie Pfeil, board president of Our Lady of the Road, associate teaching professor, Department of Theology and Center for Social Concerns, Kelli Reagan Hickey, research coordinator, Center for Social Concerns, and Jon Schommer, executive director of Our Lady of the Road received an award of $2,400 for “Mapping Best Practices regarding Low-Barrier Intake Centers.” The project seeks to create more conversation on the broad issue of homelessness and affordable housing in the South Bend area by having a webinar involving practitioners from other cities with well-established low-barrier shelters and experts from the Fitzgerald Institute for Real Estate and the Lab for Economic Opportunities to elucidate best practices around the creation and operation of low-barrier facilities. 

Current graduate student researchers with Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences, Virginia Rodriguez, Frances Zengotita, and Manuel R. Vejar, along with Ginger E. Sigmon, managing director of Center for Sustainable Energy (ND Energy), Anne B. Pillai, education and outreach associate program director of ND Energy, Velshonna Luckey, director of outreach and partnership development, United Way, and Kimberly G. Reeves, director of community health and community benefit with Beacon Health Systems received an award of $5,000 for “Uplifting Research Opportunity & College Readiness: (UROC Readiness).” The project seeks to provide research experience and professional development from the University of Notre Dame to low-income, first-generation, and ethnic/racial minority high school students in the South Bend area to increase the diversity in both higher education institutions and the workforce as it pertains to STEM fields, in which minorities are typically underrepresented.

Nicole MacLaughlin, associate teaching professor with the University Writing Program received an award of $2,272 for “Writing and Rhetoric 13200: Write South Bend.” The course will run in the Spring 2022 semester. Students will choose from a variety of education and literacy based service assignments, including Shakespeare Club, after school tutoring, English as a New Language Pre-school, and Take Ten Anti-Violence Program, all of which are housed at the Robinson Community Learning Center. 

Community Impact Grant proposals are reviewed once in the fall and once in the spring. The next round of grants will open December 13, 2021 and end on February 14, 2022. Applicants may request grants up to $15,000. For more information on grants, please visit the grants webpage.

Contact: JP Shortall, director of communications and advancement, (574) 631-3209,


Friday, September 10, 2021

Defining a just wage is a complex task. The definition must go beyond wage amount and include things like wage theft, not paying workers  what they're legally due. This can take the form of misclassifying workers or avoiding overtime pay. A recent article in National Catholic Reporter, "On this Labor Day, advocating for just wages means fighting company theft," considers how faith organizations need to be aware of wage theft and fight against through advocacy and financial decisionmaing. Dan Graff, Ph.D., director of the Higgins Labor Program, noted that this is particularly true in the absense of unions. 

"It's especially important for faith communities to address such basic concerns now because of the lack of enforcement and the decline of unions, which traditionally protected workers' rights, Graff added. 'There's a real absence. Moral communities are going to have to fill in.'"

Thursday, August 26, 2021

The Center for Social Concerns has selected its cohort of 14 Faculty Fellows from ten different departments and five schools and colleges for 2021–23. Faculty are selected based upon their records as leaders in academic community engagement who can link their disciplinary or multidisciplinary expertise with the center's mission. To this end, Faculty Fellows collaborate for a period of two years with center faculty and staff in research, teaching, and advisory capacities across University departments and programs.

Faculty Fellows for 2021–23 are Kraig Beyerlein, Rev. John A. O’Brien Associate Professor of Sociology and director, Center for the Study of Religion and Society; Jay Brockman, professor of the practice, College of Engineering and director, Center for Civic Innovation; Pam Butler, assistant teaching professor, Gender Studies and associate director and director of undergraduate studies, Gender Studies; Ann Marie Conrado, associate professor, Industrial Design; Charlice Hurst, assistant professor, Management and Organization; Emmanuel Katongole, professor of Theology and Peace Studies, Keough School of Global Affairs; Nancy Michael, director of undergraduate studies, Neuroscience and Behavior major, College of Science; Marisel Moreno-Anderson, John A. O’Brien Associate Professor in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures; Michael H. Morris, professor of the practice, Keough School of Global Affairs; Patrizio Piraino, director, Ford Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity and associate professor, Keough School of Global Affairs; Clark Power, professor of Psychology and Education, Program of Liberal Studies and concurrent professor, Department of Psychology; Clemens Sedmak, director, Nanovic Institute for European Studies and professor of social ethics, Keough School of Global Affairs; Neeta Verma, Robert P. Sedlack Jr. Associate Professor of Visual Communication Design, Art, Art History, and Design; Danielle Wood, associate professor of the practice, College of Engineering, associate director for research, Center for Civic Innovation.

To learn more about current and past Faculty Fellows at the Center for Social Concerns please visit For more information please contact Connie Mick,


Friday, July 30, 2021

Suzanne Shanahan, director of the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University, has been appointed the Leo and Arlene Hawk Executive Director of the Center for Social Concerns at the University of Notre Dame, effective Oct. 1.

As the Nannerl O. Keohane Director of the Kenan Institute for Ethics, one of the country’s leading ethics centers, Shanahan currently leads the effort to help students and faculty understand the moral challenges of our time and create scholarly frameworks, policies and practices to address them. During her time as director, the institute experienced significant increases in research grants, programming grants and philanthropy, as well as robust alumni participation in learning opportunities, advisory board participation and annual giving.

“Suzanne’s rich experience integrating research, education and community engagement into interdisciplinary projects and programs ideally positions her to take the helm of the Center for Social Concerns,” Marie Lynn Miranda, the Charles and Jill Fischer Provost at Notre Dame, said. “I am excited about her commitment and creativity related to harnessing student energy and insights, leveraging faculty expertise to drive meaningful research, and creating lasting impact from the South Bend-Elkhart region to our global gateways.”

Shanahan’s additional leadership roles at Duke include managing the research service-learning initiative DukeEngage, one of the largest fully funded civic engagement programs in the United States, and directing the Kenan Refugee Project, a six-country, community-based project on forced migration. She also serves as chair of Duke’s Ethics Education Council, a position she has held since 2016.

An associate research professor of sociology and a faculty affiliate in Middle Eastern studies at Duke, Shanahan previously was co-director and associate director of the Kenan Institute and an assistant professor of sociology. In addition, she ran the DukeEngage Dublin program for 11 years. Her research focuses on the dignity and moral boundaries of refugees — in the Middle East, East Africa and the United States — and on restorative narratives of child sex trafficking survivors.

By enacting human dignity, pursuing the common good and standing in solidarity with the marginalized, Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns advances pedagogies of engagement, leverages personal transformation for social change and transforms principles of Catholic social teaching into 21st-century leadership.

Established in 1983 following a merger of the Office of Volunteer Services and the Center for Experiential Learning, the center has grown to include a team of 35, with more than 1,000 students participating in its credit-bearing courses and two academic minors every year. Undergraduate and graduate students also engage in diverse lectures, workshops and trainings on topics ranging from active citizenship to labor rights and restorative justice as well as service learning, community-based research and other community-engaged courses in the local South Bend-Elkhart area, as well as through Notre Dame’s global gateways.

Shanahan is an award-winning educator who has participated in and led the creative development of a range of innovative, student-centered, high-impact interventions both inside and outside the curriculum at Duke. She received her bachelor’s degree in international studies from Johns Hopkins University and her master’s and doctoral degrees in sociology from Stanford University.

“It is my honor to join the Center for Social Concerns and the University of Notre Dame in working to create a more just, courageous and hopeful world,” Shanahan said. “The center represents a very special opportunity to work fully within the Catholic social tradition in a university community that fully embraces and celebrates that tradition. I am excited to collaborate with students, faculty, staff and community partners to  build on the center’s vibrant history and decades-long pursuit of human flourishing. It will be a distinctive privilege to work together to chart a path forward that celebrates and amplifies this tradition, this work and these commitments.”

Miranda expressed appreciation to the search committee for its efforts in identifying a candidate and to William Purcell, who has served as the center’s acting executive director since November 2019.

“I deeply appreciate the members of the search committee and their commitment to finding an exceptionally strong and deeply mission-aligned person to lead the center in this next chapter of service and learning,” she said. "I also want to thank Bill for his generous service as acting executive director of the center over the last year and a half. His wisdom and deep commitment to the mission of the center helped it flourish even as it faced the complex challenges of community-engaged learning during a global pandemic.”

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

South Bend has a poverty rate of about 24% and a child poverty rate above 30%. Those high rates indicate a high level of stress for adults and children alike. This year’s Community Engagement Faculty Institute took place from June 2–4 and gathered more than 40 participants to consider how to understand and respond to adverse childhood experiences in solidarity with many local organizations that address unjust adverse community environments.

“We were so happy to gather faculty and community partners in person for the 2021 Community Engagement Faculty Institute (CEFI) after canceling due to the pandemic in 2020. This new crisis in public health has heightened the disparities in social and economic outcomes and we were eager to reconnect face-to-face to hear our partners express their concerns and share their successes,” said Connie Snyder Mick, Director of Academic Affairs and the Poverty Studies Interdisciplinary Minor at the Center for Social Concerns.

CEFI participants from diverse backgrounds explored what it means to work toward a trauma-informed approach to community engagement through readings, presentations, and site visits in the local community. Together they read The Deepest Well: Healing the Long Term Effects of Childhood Adversity by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris and engaged with Notre Dame Provost Marie Lynn Miranda's readings for the Moment to See, Courage to Act initiative. Community partners such as La Casa de Amistad and the Robinson Community Learning Center shared new initiatives and creative responses to the growing needs in the community, particularly those that affect children. 

“I am a relative newcomer to Notre Dame, and one of the things that really drew me to the University was its strong sense of mission,” said Carolina Avendano, Director of Research Operations for the Children’s Environmental Health Initiative at Notre Dame. “It was wonderful to be part of this year’s Community Engagement Faculty Institute and really see how our values can be put in practice as we focus on supporting the community we all share.”

With the Institute being an interdisciplinary and inclusive event, participants were encouraged to discern how they could use their expertise to work with community partners to create flourishing neighborhoods that nourish childhoods free from trauma. 

Faculty interested in considering how their teaching and research can help advocate for impact in local communities worldwide can contact Connie Mick at


Friday, February 12, 2021

The Just Wage Forum begins on Friday, February 12 at 1:00 p.m. with a panel discussion on “Promoting a Just Wage Economy.” It will be the first in a series of nine virtual sessions in which scholars and practitioners explore the following questions: What makes any given wage just or unjust? What are the rights and responsibilities of employers, workers, government, unions, and community groups in securing safe, decent-paying jobs? And what can be done to address structural discrimination and increasing economic inequality?

The Forum is a series of the Just Wage Initiative, which was created in the fall of 2016 by faculty members Dan Graff, director of the Higgins Labor Program at the Center for Social Concerns and professor of the practice in the department of history, where he specializes in U.S. labor, and Clemens Sedmak, interim director of the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, professor of social ethics in the Keough School of Global Affairs, and advisor in Catholic social tradition at the Center for Social Concerns. The Initiative also includes faculty from multiple departments across the University, including law, sociology, and management.

The opening session of the Forum will introduce a framework and online tool designed to help users think through whether a wage is just according to seven criteria grounded in Catholic social tradition. Sedmak and Graff are panelists for the first session and will be joined by Charlice Hurst, assistant professor of Management, Mendoza College of Business, University of Notre Dame, and Donald Stabile, professor of economics, St. Mary's College of Maryland. 

The remaining eight sessions in the series will take place between February and July and will cover one just wage criterion each. The final session will offer conclusions and look forward to next steps on the question of a just wage. The second session covers the first criterion--that a just wage promotes a decent life—and will take place Friday, February 26 at 1:00 p.m.; the third session will focus on criterion two—a just wage promotes asset building—and will take place Friday, March 19 at 1:00 p.m.; the fourth session addresses criterion three—a just wage provides social security—and will take place Friday, April 9 at 3:00 p.m. 

Visit the Just Wage Forum site for more information on remaining events in the series.

The Higgins Labor Program is an interdisciplinary unit of the Center for Social Concerns sponsoring research, education, and community engagement on issues involving work, labor organization, and social justice.

Contact: Dan Graff, Higgins Labor Program Director, (574) 631-5845,

Monday, January 25, 2021

The Center for Social Concerns has selected Community Impact Grant recipients for the 2020–21 academic year. Grants are awarded to faculty and students doing community-engaged work that advances human dignity, solidarity, and the common good, values central to Catholic social tradition and the center’s mission. The grants were awarded based upon a proposal submission and selection process and are part of the center’s continuing effort to support collaboration between campus and community partners for social justice impact.

Current Notre Dame undergraduates Anna Benedict and Louise Medina Bengtsson, and Lisa Anderson, founder of Clubhouse of St. Joseph County and adjunct faculty at the center were awarded $2,500 for “Our Stories: Building Transformative Allyships & Honoring Narratives of Mental Illness.” This project collaborates with the Clubhouse of St. Joseph County and is dedicated to three goals: bridging the gap between the Notre Dame and the South Bend communities; creating allyships and helping decrease the stigma that surrounds mental illness; and compiling and publishing a book of Clubhouse members’ personal stories and artwork.

Jenna E. Coalson, assistant professor of the practice, Department of Biological Sciences and Eck Institute for Global Health, and independent South Bend artist Brad Burgess were awarded $3,500 for “Civic Engagement and Healthy Communities: A Collaboration Between Science and Live Performing Arts in South Bend.”  This project seeks to unite experts from health sciences and the arts to explore how live performing arts can promote accurate public health information. The project will include partners from Notre Dame and the wider South Bend/St. Joseph County area, most notably the South Bend Civic Theatre.

Laura Miller-Graff, associate professor, Department of Psychology and Peace Studies and Becki Fulmer, project coordinator at the BRAVE lab, were awarded $4,500 for “Using Intensive Longitudinal Methods to Examine the Effects of Intervention and Risk and Resilience Factors on Pandemic-Related Stress Among IPV-Exposed Mother-Infant Dyads,” a project partnering with multiple community organizations to identify the mental health and relational impacts of COVID-19 on women with a history of IPV exposure and their young children.

Michel Hockx, professor of Chinese Literature and Director of the Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies and Christine Cox, assistant director for programs and strategy, Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies were awarded $500 to support “Visible: A Celebration of Asian American Activism, Service, and Creativity,” an online panel discussion celebrating Asian American achievement.

Amy Kryston, current Notre Dame undergraduate, and Anna Geltzer, assistant director of the John J. Reilly Center, were awarded $3,200 for “Investigating Infant and Maternal Health and Community-Based Research in St. Joseph County, Indiana,” a project intended to improve knowledge of the current maternal health crisis in the area and inform public policy. 

Michael Macaluso, assistant professor of the practice, Institute for Educational Initiatives and Kati Macaluso, assistant teaching professor, Institute for Educational Initiatives, were awarded $6,068 for “Social Justice Teacher Book Clubs,” which will partner with 20 local middle and secondary Catholic school English teachers to diversify their curricula.

Michael H. Morris, professor of the practice, McKenna Center for Human Development and Global Business, Keough School of Global Affairs was awarded $3,500 for “South Bend Entrepreneurship and Adversity Program,” a program that supports a pathway out of poverty by supporting the development of sustainable enterprises. 

Will Newkirk, associate program Director, Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) and the American Indian Catholic Schools Network (AICSN), Sarah Stovicek, current Notre Dame graduate student, and Brian Collier, director and professor of the practice, ACE and AICSN, were awarded $2,500 for “American Indian Catholic Schools Network Truth and Healing Summit,” a convening of eight AICSN schools intended to educate teachers and leaders on the key elements of truth and healing within Catholic and indigenous schools.

Cara Ocobock, assistant professor, Anthropology, and current Notre Dame graduate students Morgan Widhalm Munsen and Robert K. Stanley, were awarded $5,500 for “Making At-Home Science and Representation Accessible to Low-Income Students During COVID-19.” The project seeks to address potential educational back-slide due to COVID-19, particularly for low-income students, by providing no-cost science kits for at-home educational enrichment and entertainment. They are partnering with St. Adalbert Catholic School and the Center for the Homeless for co-creation and distribution of the kits.

Current Notre Dame undergraduate students Karli Siefker and Elsa Barron were awarded $5,110 for “Fertile Ground: Sustainability Education as a Restorative Justice Practice,'' which intends to design and implement a sustainability curriculum for students at DePaul Academy in South Bend. The project seeks to integrate sustainability education as a lasting form of restorative justice and healing for students who might otherwise not encounter the topic of sustainability or comprehensive engagement with the natural world. 

Community Impact Grant proposals are reviewed once in the fall and once in the spring but will not be reviewed this spring due to the coronavirus pandemic. The next deadline for applications will be during the late fall, 2021. Applicants may request grants up to $15,000. For more information on grants, please visit the grants webpage.

Contact: JP Shortall, director of communications and advancement, (574) 631-3209,


Thursday, December 3, 2020

As the coronavirus rages around the world, essential workers continue to face the fear of its impact daily. This includes worrying about what they would do if they or their families contract the virus. In a recent segment with local South Bend news affiliate WNDU, Dan Graff, Ph.D., director of the Higgins Labor Program,  answered the question "What rights do workers have to paid leave during the pandemic?" In it, he discussed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) which has provided paid leave for employees and is scheduled to expire at the end of 2020. 

“Now, I worry sometimes that employers have a lot more sway over their workers, and maybe, you know, unfortunately, in some cases would intimidate workers from actually exercising the right."

View All Events

Upcoming Events

January 2022

Circles at the Snite
Thursday, January 27, 2022 - 5:30pm to 7:00pm
Labor Café Goes Zoom!
Friday, January 28, 2022 - 5:00pm to 6:00pm
Virtues and Vocations presents Mary Gentile: Giving Voice to Values
Monday, January 31, 2022 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm

February 2022

Application Close | SSLP 2022
Tuesday, February 1, 2022 - 12:00am to 11:45pm
Signs of the Times Series | Education
Friday, February 4, 2022 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Proposal Deadline | Community Impact Grants
Monday, February 14, 2022 - 4:30pm
Junior Parents Weekend Open House
Friday, February 18, 2022 - 4:00pm to 6:00pm

March 2022

Catholic Social Tradition Minor Open House & Info Session
Wednesday, March 16, 2022 - 6:00pm to 7:00pm