Thursday, September 14, 2017

Scott Alexander, Ph.D. and Imam Hassan Al-Qazwini will be discussing how peace and justice can be achieved through interfaith dialogue between two of the world's leading faith traditions at 7:00 p.m. Thursday (Sept. 14). The lecture will be held in the Andrews Auditorium of Geddes Hall and is open to the public.

Alexander is an associate professor of Islamic Studies and director of the Catholic-Muslim Studies Program at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. Imam Qazwini is a scholar, educator, and advocate for Islam in America and in 2015 founded the Islamic Institute of America in Dearborn Heights, Michigan.

“Christians believe in dialogue. That dialogue is modeled by God's dialogue with humanity. Indeed, the dialogue in which Alexander and Imam Al-Qazwini are engaged is a critical part of each of our religious experience,” commented Fr. Kevin Sandberg, acting executive director of the Center for Social Concerns. “Pope Benedict XVI said, "Interreligious and intercultural dialogue between Christians and Muslims cannot be reduced to an optional extra. It is in fact a vital necessity, on which in large measure our future depends." The Center for Social Concerns has long cultivated dialogue as a critical methodology in the discovery of truth and the common good on which justice and peace are predicated.”

This year’s lecture aligns with the Center’s Catholic social tradition theme for the year, “Living the Challenge of Peace,” which derives from a pastoral letter issued by the U.S. Bishops in 1983. Though the main emphasis in 1983 was on the just-war tradition, pacifism, and nuclear arms, the message is still relevant 35 years later on how people of faith can address the many tensions in our world from race, labor, and religion, to technology, the environment, and the arms trade.

The Rev. Bernie Clark, C.S.C., Lecture on Catholic Social Tradition was created in 2009 to serve as an annual reminder of Father Clark’s deep and enduring commitment to social justice in the Catholic social tradition. This year’s lecture marks the beginning of a yearlong series of justice education events at the Center for Social Concerns focused on the theme of Living the Challenge of Peace.

Contact: Katie McCauley, Center for Social Concerns, 574-631-8823,​


Monday, September 11, 2017

Originally published in The Observer.

As part of the Higgins Labor Program’s Research and Policy Series (RAPS), president of the North Central Indiana chapter of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) Tony Flora and executive director of La Casa de Amistad, Sam Centellas, delivered a lecture about immigration and labor reform at Geddes Hall on Friday.

Flora said the importance of community efforts cannot be underestimated.

“Most of [our] work is around effecting law and regulation and that realm of politics,” Flora said. “The AFL-CIO has been very vigorous about developing community relationships and coalitions.”

Many companies, Flora said, hire undocumented workers because they are aware of their undocumented status and therefore do not have to treat them according to labor laws and standards.

Centellas said bankrupt companies often involve CEOs who still make millions of dollars, and unemployment has nothing to do with undocumented workers taking jobs.

“If you’re unemployed, an undocumented Mexican worker is not oppressing you, the CEO’s of companies are the ones oppressing you, but they have convinced you that you’re being oppressed because of these Mexican immigrants coming to your town,” Centellas said. 

“Our goal is to achieve a society through shared prosperity, and we cannot have that shared prosperity when 11 million people in our country are in a below ground economy,” he said. “If you’re undocumented, you can’t go to your boss and say, “You didn’t pay me the overtime,” and the boss can say, “What are you going to do about it?” if they know you are undocumented. They can claim that they are being very generous, but the truth is, the undocumented workforce represents a drag on the economy — not because they are here being employed, but because they do not have full civil and labor rights.”

Flora said undocumented workers often receive no attention or remedy if they raise awareness about their unfair treatment.

“It seems like the ability to reform immigration law in America has hit a brick wall,” Flora said. “On the other hand, I’m going to be a little optimistic. I think we have a wonderful opportunity right now. Sometimes when a bad thing happens, it opens up an awful lot of doors, but there is going to be an ensuing crisis created by what the Trump administration has just done.”

Although Flora describes the current immigration climate as a “climate of terror,” he said coalitions serve as major proponents for immigration reform.

As executive director of La Casa de Amistad, Centellas helps many families with undocumented immigrants. Centellas said the Latino population is often misrepresented.

“They don’t want free,” Centellas said. “They want to pay for a service. They want to contribute.”

Centellas said controversy surrounding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program affects his clients.

“You see it where a lot of people have read the stuff about DACA, and say ‘They are giving them six months, or they are rolling it out,” but no,” he said. “It’s garbage. It’s something they didn’t have to do. They could have put pressure on Congress to get this done without that happening.”

Centellas said many undocumented immigrants’ best chance at earning documentation may be to go back to Mexico and wait there for around 20 years before coming into the country legally. Undocumented labor and the associated abuse and low wages adversely affect the economy.

“A lot of times people think about immigration or immigration reform, and they forget that all of those problems impact everything,” Centellas said. “They say, ‘Oh, I hope those immigrants figure it out,’ but undocumented labor impacts everything. It impacts your family, your uncle’s company.” 

“That’s why we all have to care, not just because helping other people is fantastic and it’s what we should do,” he said. “But we also need to get people to understand that they are impacted by this, and so that’s why it’s important for people to get involved and to understand what is happening. That’s what is killing our labor market right now: this black market of labor with people who cannot advocate for themselves and move out of that position because of their documentation status.”

We urge the president to continue to give status to young people who have done nothing wrong, most of whom have only known life in the United States and who will make important contributions to it. Notre Dame intends to support these students and asks the administration to do the same. —Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., president of the University of Notre Dame


The Catholic Bishops have long supported DACA youth and continue to do so. DACA youth are contributors to our economy, veterans of our military, academic standouts in our universities, and leaders in our parishes. These young people entered the U.S. as children and know America as their only home. The dignity of every human being, particularly that of our children and youth, must be protected. —USCCB


In light of the decision by the Trump administration to end the DACA program, the Center for Social Concerns will be hosting a Call In led by ND Student Coalition for Immigration Advocacy (SCIA) to promote the Dream Act on Wednesday, September 6, 2017 in the Geddes Hall Coffee House from 11:00 a.m.–2: 00 p.m. SCIA will provide phone numbers for your respective Representatives and talking points on the Dream Act of 2017, as we're hoping the campus community will show its support for our DACA students by taking 10 minutes to stop by and make phone calls.
Can't make the Call In? Please call 1-888-496-3502 to be connected to your Representative and then call 1-888-410-0619 to be connected to your Senators' offices.
Sample script:
Hi, my name is [NAME] and I'm calling from [CITY, STATE, ZIP]. As a person of faith, I strongly oppose President Trump rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This move is devastating for my community. I urge the Senator/Representative to do everything in his/her power to protect the 800,000 DACA recipients from detention. 
Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Dr. Tara D. Hudson is joining the Higher Education Administration program at Kent State University's School of Foundations, Leadership and Administration this fall as an assistant professor. Tara was previously the postdoctoral research associate at the Center for Social Concerns at Notre Dame from 2015–2017. She received her Ph.D. in Educational Research and Policy Analysis with a concentration in higher education from North Carolina State University.

Her dissertation research, which received the 2015 Bobby Wright Dissertation of the Year award from the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE), examined how college students develop and sustain interracial friendships, with the aim of informing educational practice to better support students' achievement of the critical learning and development outcomes that result from diverse peer interactions and relationships. Her research focuses on two broad areas: (1) college students' prosocial development, particularly resulting from community engagement and interactional diversity; and (2) the experiences of underrepresented and marginalized populations along their educational and career trajectories. 

Uniting these two areas is her desire to inform educational practice that advances higher education's role in promoting social justice and equity within U.S. society. In researching these topics, she employs both qualitative and quantitative methods. Dr. Hudson's research has been published in the Journal of Higher Education, Review of Higher Education, and Journal of College and Character, and she is co-author of a forthcoming chapter in the book The Landscape of Postdoctoral Fellows: The Invisible Scholars (eds. A. J. Jaeger & A. J. Dinin, Elsevier Academic Press).

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Originally published by National Catholic Reporter

Founding director of Notre Dame's Center for Social Concerns remembered

Mary Monnat was planning to go to law school after her graduation from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana in 1980. But she was having second thoughts, so she turned to her teacher and mentor, Holy Cross Fr. Donald McNeill.

The priest helped Monnat decide to delay her admission to law school and instead spend a year with the Holy Cross Associates program, a year of service and living in community. While volunteering at an alcohol treatment center in Portland, Oregon, she acknowledged her own addiction and got into recovery — and discovered her vocation to work in alcohol and drug addiction.

"I credit him with, frankly, changing my life," said Monnat, now CEO of Lifeworks Northwest, a mental health and treatment center in Portland. "He had a way of having you take your faith and put it into action. That's who he was."

Monnat is one of thousands of students who have been inspired by McNeill and the Center for Social Concerns he co-founded 34 years ago. Those students, many of whom have gone on to full-time work in social justice or service like Monnat, have benefited countless other lives.

McNeill died Aug. 24 at the University of Notre Dame. He was 81.

"The extent of [McNeill's] ministry is pretty profound," said Margaret Pfeil, who, inspired by the priest, got involved in the Catholic Worker movement and now teaches theology at her alma mater.

"No one — other than [former Notre Dame president Fr. Theodore] Hesburgh — has had a bigger impact on the modern Notre Dame," said Melinda Henneberger, who graduated in 1980 and studied with McNeill.

"Social justice was Don's life's work," Henneberger said. "He really made that an important part of life at Notre Dame."

McNeill was the founding director of the Center for Social Concerns, which in 1983 combined the university's volunteer programs, headed by Holy Cross Sr. Judith Anne Beattie, and its experiential learning programs, headed by McNeill. Today, the center provides service opportunities around the world, as well as courses that take students into poor communities. Some estimates by the university say 80 percent of students do some sort of volunteer work.

The center's current acting director, Holy Cross Fr. Kevin Sandberg, says at least 12,000 students have been involved in the center over the years.

Sandberg recalls McNeill as a leader in bringing the message of Catholic action to the campus. McNeill stressed "that justice is constitutive of the Gospel," which challenged students who saw the church as focused only on charity or interior spirituality, said Sandberg, who graduated in 1988.

In co-founding the Center for Social Concerns (a deliberate move so its acronym would mirror the Holy Cross order's initials), McNeill wanted to create a culture of not only service, but justice, said Sandberg. "Our slogan now is 'Where understanding becomes responsibility,' which supports our vision to engage in social justice and advance the common good everywhere."

Although McNeill is remembered for co-founding the center, much of his influence was on individual students — especially women.

Pfeil hung out at the Center for Social Concerns, located in the former television station building near the library, and was involved with the Council for the International Lay Apostolate group.

She spent her summers working with the poor in Tijuana, Mexico, and after graduating in 1987, traveled to Chile through the Holy Cross Associates program, where she helped document the stories of those who had been detained and disappeared while the country was under military rule.

Those experiences prompted theological questions, so she pursued graduate studies, eventually back at Notre Dame, where she assisted McNeill with community-based courses. She co-authored, with McNeill, a book of reflections by people who had been shaped by their experiences at the center. Its title, Act Justly, Love Mercifully, and Walk Humbly with Your God, comes from one of McNeill's favorite scriptures in the Book of Micah.

Pfeil recalled McNeill's "profound spirit of gratitude" and his fondness for the people and cultures of Latin America. "He could really draw joy out of people," she said. "Don had a gift for identifying people's passions and forming people to live out those passions."

Henneberger learned from McNeill and Beattie that "God will want you to go to uncomfortable places." In one class, her project involved visiting people in a nursing home; she later did an "Urban Plunge" to Puerto Rico.

"I still draw on that class today. It was one of the best things I ever did," said Henneberger, an opinion writer for the Kansas City Star. (She has also written for NCR.) "It was all about accompanying people on their journey."

Sandberg said he learned how to do theological reflection while listening to McNeill's homilies as an undergraduate. "His was a 'theology of encounter' before Pope Francis popularized it," he said.

Others recalled his magnetic personality. "He really captivated people and won people over," remembers Joseph Mulligan, who graduated a year behind McNeill and later worked in the university's development office, where he encouraged alumni to support the center's programs.

McNeill was born in a wealthy Chicago suburb. His father and namesake was a radio personality, whose "Breakfast Club" show was the longest-running program in network radio history.

As an undergraduate, McNeill played basketball for Notre Dame and was senior class president, graduating in 1958. He was ordained a Holy Cross priest in 1965, after studying theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

McNeill became friends with Fr. Henri Nouwen, who taught briefly at Notre Dame and encouraged McNeill to pursue doctoral studies at Princeton Theological Seminary.

When he returned to Notre Dame, McNeill met and worked with Chicago activists Peggy Roach and Msgr. Jack Egan, who served as assistant to Hesburgh and directed the university's Institute for Pastoral and Social Ministry. 

At his funeral Mass, held Aug. 30 at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on Notre Dame's campus, homilist Holy Cross Fr. Claude Pomerleau said McNeill's reach went far beyond the campus. Among his contributions "was his focus on the need for the church and for our ministries to listen to those with little power and limited formal roles in the Catholic Church, especially women and young people," he said.

McNeill even argued for co-ed dorms at Notre Dame, to which Hesburgh responded, "Over my dead body," Pomerleau said.

At the beginning of this fall semester, Pfeil took her Notre Dame students to a local community garden, where they picked tomatoes and read Thomas Merton while reflecting on their work with the residents who benefit from the garden. She told the students about McNeill, whom they would never meet.

Later that day, she visited McNeill at Holy Cross House and told him about the students. Although he could not speak after suffering a stroke, he smiled when he heard about the class, Pfeil said.

"Nothing would make him happier than knowing that students are entering into relationships with people with whom they would otherwise have very little contact," she said, "and using all their gifts and talents to make the world a more just and loving place."

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Walking down California Avenue, past a patchwork of neat, brightly painted homes, neglected and abandoned houses, urban gardens and empty, overgrown lots, Patrick Paulsen, an intended economics and film, television and theatre major from Seattle, admitted to knowing little about South Bend before arriving at Notre Dame.

“I thought it was just cornfields out in Indiana,” said Paulsen. “So it’s nice to discover there’s more than that.”

Lined with old oaks and maples, California Avenue passes through the Near Northwest Neighborhood, which is among the oldest and most diverse in the city, populated by old Victorian mansions, sturdy “prairie boxes” and cozy bungalows, and home to a diverse mix of renters and homeowners, from aging widows on fixed incomes to low-wage factory workers, young professionals and tenured professors.

Led by Kathy Schuth, a 1999 Notre Dame graduate and executive director of the Near Northwest Neighborhood Inc., and Michael Hebbeler, NNN board president and director of discernment and advocacy for the Center for Social Concerns at Notre Dame, Paulsen and about two dozen other students toured the neighborhood Monday, Aug. 21, as part of Day of Community, a Welcome Weekend event aimed to exposing new and transfer students to the broader South Bend community.

Now in its second year, the event, led by the Division of Student Affairs in collaboration with the Center for Social Concerns and the Office of Public Affairs, introduces students to an assortment of businesses and nonprofits in the South Bend area, emphasizing service, education, arts and culture.

In doing so, it exposes them to life beyond campus and to opportunities for meaningful engagement with the community, from volunteer work to research and internships — both pre- and post-graduation.

The NNN’s mission involves improving access to affordable housing on the near northwest side through the rehabilitation of older homes, which it accomplishes in partnership with the city and federal government.

It’s also working with The Eck Institute for Global Health at Notre Dame, and a number of student volunteers, to quantify the lead problem in the neighborhood, where as many as 1 in 3 children have tested positive for lead at elevated levels in recent years because of contaminated paint and soil.

In addition to the Near Northwest Neighborhood itself, students toured the NNN’s offices on Portage Avenue, including The Local Cup, a volunteer-run coffee shop that operates on a “pay-it-forward” model that lets patrons decide how much to pay for things.

Speaking afterward, Hebbeler, who lives down the street from the NNN, invited the students to return to the neighborhood, about 15 minutes from campus by bike, for Arts Café, an annual open house in October, or Adopt-a-Block, an annual clean-up event in April — or just for coffee.

“We definitely want you to consider this as a place to dive back into South Bend in terms of your community life,” said Hebbeler, who moved to South Bend in 2008.

Julie Rosta, an intended biology major from Indianapolis, welcomed the opportunity to explore the South Bend community.

“I don’t know much about downtown South Bend,” said Rosta, “so I’m really excited that we got to come and look around.”

And that’s the point, according to Paul Manrique, director of new student engagement in the Division of Student Affairs.

“The original purpose of Day of Community was to break down barriers between Notre Dame and the city of South Bend,” said Manrique.

“As the newest members to this community, first-year Notre Dame students now have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the city, learn about the wonderful things happening around town, and find out ways to stay connected during their years at the University,” he said. “Feedback from students has been outstanding, and our 25 community partners have loved this chance to engage with Notre Dame in a new way.” 

In addition to the Near Northwest Neighborhood, students visited Downtown South Bend Inc., the Center for the Homeless, the Food Bank of Northern Indiana, St. Vincent de Paul, La Casa de Amistad, the South Bend Cubs and the city’s Venues Parks & Arts department, among other community partners.

A total of 1,200 students participated in the event, which coincided with the solar eclipse.

Paulsen and others stopped to view the rare event near the end of their tour, gazing skyward as a temporary dusk settled on the city, setting crickets to chirping in the underbrush.

Earlier in the day, residents of Sorin and Knott halls toured the former Studebaker complex on the southern edge of downtown.

Working with the city and the state, Notre Dame graduate Kevin Smith, CEO of Global Access Point, is transforming the sprawling former auto assembly plant, the last remnant of the former Studebaker campus, into a mixed-use technology center.

Led by Notre Dame graduates Shane Fimbel, chief operating officer of Global Access Point, and Andrew Wiand, executive director of enFocus, students toured Building 113, one of three buildings that comprise the nearly 1 million-square-foot complex. They also visited with Alex Liggins, a 2014 Notre Dame graduate, and Alex Sejdinaj, co-founders of South Bend Code School.

A long two-story building, Building 113 remains under renovation but already houses four startups — all with ties to Notre Dame.

“What we would like to see in the next 10 years is this become the largest mixed-use technology center in the Midwest,” said Wiand, a 2012 graduate of Notre Dame’s ESTEEM entrepreneurship program.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg toured the complex during a recent visit to South Bend, Wiand noted, meeting with Smith and others. He also visited the Local Cup.

Alex Goskowicz, of San Diego, was impressed.

“My dad went (to Notre Dame) and told me about the Studebaker factory, and I assumed there wasn’t really anything going on here at all,” said Goskowicz, an intended mechanical engineering major. “So it was cool to find out there were some tech startups and someone trying to rebuild stuff.”

Sejdinaj, with South Bend Code School, invited the students to engage with the local tech community.

“Everyone here will go have coffee with you,” he said, describing the friendly atmosphere within the community. “Everyone here is willing to connect you with other people.”



Monday, August 28, 2017

Hurricane Harvey relief

Compiled August 28, 2017

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, has called for prayers and solidarity with those impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Cardinal DiNardo also called on all people of good will to closely monitor future calls for assistance for victims and survivors in the days ahead.

Cardinal DiNardo explained, “Hurricane Harvey hit the Gulf Coast in a catastrophic and devastating way this weekend, bringing with it severe flooding and high winds which have taken human life, caused countless injuries, and severely damaged homes and property throughout the region. The effects of this storm continue to put people in harm’s way, with horrific scenes playing out all around, such as those of people trapped on their rooftops as water continues to rise around them.”

In dynamic emergency situations often the best way to offer assistance is by making financial donations to organizations with skilled teams in the location. 

The University of Notre Dame is not formally endorsing any of these organizations listed. You are free to donate to any charity you choose. This listing is a partial listing of the many organizations accepting contributions to relief and assistance with regards to Hurricane Harvey.

Catholic Charities:

Catholic Charities provides response coordination and short-term and long-term recovery services in collaboration with other area Disaster Relief agencies, and by working with the Mayor’s office on their disaster recovery plan. This means first meeting emergency needs such as shelter, food, and medication assistance for those who have lost everything.

Donate through Catholic Charities

Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops:

Through Catholic Charities and other ministries, dioceses throughout Texas are providing basic humanitarian and pastoral support to thousands of Texans affected by Hurricane Harvey.  

The Texas bishops are coordinating efforts with Catholic Charities USA and local civic authorities.

 Donate through the Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops

American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross is helping people affected by Hurricane Harvey in Texas and all across the Gulf coast.  Shelters are open, truck loads of supplies are being distributed and volunteers are in place to assist those impacted by the storm.

Donate through the American Red Cross

Salvation Army:

The Salvation Army in Texas is providing food and hydration to first responders and is preparing for massive feeding efforts for residents. In response to increased needs, The Salvation Army is activating emergency response teams across the country.

Donate through the Salvation Army

Monday, August 21, 2017

Rev. Kevin Sandberg, C.S.C., has been appointed acting executive director of the University’s Center for Social Concerns for academic year 2017–18. Father Sandberg will serve in this role while Rev. Paul Kollman, C.S.C., Leo and Arlene Hawk Executive Director of the Center for Social Concerns is on research leave.

“I’m grateful to Fr. Paul Kollman and the Office of the Provost for the confidence they have placed in me to shepherd the center this year. We’ve just completed a new strategic plan that will guide our year together and enable us to move toward our vision of being a living well of social justice whose source is Catholic social teaching,” said Father Sandberg.

Since joining the center in 2014, Father Sandberg has directed the Common Good Initiative, a Catholic social teaching immersion course for graduate students in Haiti, Cuba, Uganda, Jerusalem, or Detroit. Previously at the center he taught immersion seminars in Hispanic ministry and education. He regularly teaches a development of theology course for undergraduate students who have participated in service learning.

Father Kevin received his B.A. in economics and an M.Div. from the University of Notre Dame, an M.A. in theology from the Graduate Theological Union/Jesuit School of Theology, and his doctorate in religion and education from Fordham University. His research interests include theological reflection, pedagogies of compassion, and the neglect of listening and its restoration through religious education.

He is a Fellow of the Institute for Educational Initiatives, a board member of Ave Maria Press, and a board member of the Religious Education Association: an Association of Professors, Practitioners, and Researchers in Religious Education.

Prior to pastoral ministry as a member of the Congregation of Holy Cross, Father Kevin was a trust officer with the Northern Trust Bank and a financial economist with the U.S. Treasury Department. He was the founding director of Young Adult Community at St. Clement Church in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood.

Contact: JP Shortall,

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The 2017 Center for Social Concerns Community Engagement Faculty Institute (CEFI) was held June 13–15. Now in its sixth year, the Institute gathers community partners, faculty, and graduate students from the local area, around the country, and internationally to explore and deepen their knowledge of community-engaged teaching and research.

The Institute was first held in 2012 as a response to growing interest in community-engaged learning at the University. Each year it has brought roughly 30 participants together for three days of lectures and community partner site visits to address a central theme from various perspectives. This year’s theme was “Solidarity: Soul of Development,” which was also the focus of Center for Social Concerns programming.

Connie Mick is associate director of the Center for Social Concerns and directs the Institute, which she sees as a way to support the University’s mission. “The University's mission statement challenges faculty to help students ‘develop a disciplined sensibility to the poverty and injustice that burden the lives of so many,’ and the Community Engagement Faculty Institute is a direct response to that call,” she explains.

The three-day faculty institute is itself a model of community engagement. It features workshops by faculty and experts from local organizations along with field trips into the local community to talk with center partners who address a range of social concerns, such as poverty, health care, and education.

This year’s site visits included the DePaul Academy at the Juvenile Justice Center, the Center for the Homeless, the Near Northwest Neighborhood Association, El Campito Child Development Center, Goodwill Industries, LOGAN Industries, the Sister Maura Brannick, C.S.C., Medical Center, and the Civil Right Heritage Center. Youth actors from the Robinson Shakespeare Company at the Robinson Community Learning Center also performed for participants on campus, answering questions about how their ensemble approach strengthens their sense of belonging and solidarity. 

“The Faculty Institute provided a fabulous opportunity to network and connect with faculty, staff, community partners, and graduate students who are committed to community engagement,” says Audrey Falk, associate professor and director of the Master’s Program in Community Engagement at Merrimack College. Falk, a first-time participant in the institute, explained that CEFI “provided a welcoming and supportive environment which was ideal for relationship-building and sharing of resources.”

Erin Moira Lemrow is an academic advisor in the University’s College of First Year of Studies, concurrent teaching faculty member for the Institute for Latino Studies, and first time participant in the Institute. She was pleased to learn about how many connections Notre Dame has to the local community. “Universities have a responsibility to provide support to the communities in which they reside. As an integral component to this support, the University also needs to lead the charge in advocating for community uplift and student engagement in this initiative. One must be both a scholar of the mind and heart and I can think of no better way to embody these ideals than being part of community engagement at ND.”

In 2018, the Faculty Institute will consider the Center for Social Concerns annual theme, "The Challenge of Peace."  Faculty interested in considering how their teaching and research can help advocate for impact in local communities worldwide can contact Connie Mick

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Clemens Sedmak has been appointed director of Catholic Social Learning at the Center for Social Concerns. He also holds an appointment at Notre Dame's new Keough School for Global Affairs. Previously Sedmak was visiting professor of Catholic social tradition and community engagement at the Center for Social Concerns and the Keough School for Global Affairs.

"The Center for Social Concerns seeks to explore and advance Catholic social tradition (CST) in all its work—from student programs in community-based and service-learning to its research efforts,” said Rev. Paul Kollman, C.S.C., Leo and Arlene Hawk Executive Director of the Center for Social Concerns.

“Professor Sedmak's expansive intellectual reach and deep familiarity with CST will allow us to inculcate it more fully in our educational efforts and to advance CST itself—a dynamic set of teachings and insights—through multi-disciplinary research that serves the common good."

Originally from Austria, Sedmak studied at the University of Innsbruck, the ETH Zurich, at Maryknoll (New York), and the University of Linz. He holds doctoral degrees in philosophy, theology, and social theory. After completing doctoral study, Sedmak spent two years in Chicago as a research fellow and became the Chair for Epistemology and Philosophy of Religion at the University of Salzburg in 2001. He held that position until 2005 when he went to King's College London as FD Maurice Professor for Moral Theology and Social Theology.

Since 2005 Sedmak has also been Director of the Center for Ethics and Poverty Research at the University of Salzburg and has served as President of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Social Ethics in Salzburg since 2008. He has been visiting professor at the Jomo Kenyatta University in Nairobi, at the Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines, at the University of Jena in Germany, the Vienna Business University, and at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City.

Sedmak’s teaching, lecturing, and research focus on Catholic social tradition, Catholic moral theology, and international development. He has published numerous books in German and English. His recent English publications include A Church of the Poor: Pope Francis and the Transformation of Orthodoxy and The Capacity to be Displaced: Resilience and Inner Strength. 

Since his arrival at the University of Notre Dame, Sedmak has co-facilitated “Enacting Catholic Social Tradition: Making a Difference on the Ground,” a conference at the Notre Dame Global Gateway in Rome. He has also been a recipient of the 2017 Global Gateway Faculty Research Award.

Contact: JP Shortall,

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Upcoming Events

April 2021

Application Deadline | McNeill Leadership Fellows Program
Friday, April 30, 2021 - 12:00am to 11:45pm

May 2021

CST Research Seminar
Friday, May 7, 2021 - 9:00am to Saturday, May 8, 2021 - 9:45am
Labor Café | The Paid Leave Priority
Friday, May 7, 2021 - 5:00pm to 6:00pm

June 2021

July 2021

Just Wage Forum 2021 | Series Conclusion (Virtual)
Friday, July 23, 2021 - 1:00pm to 2:30pm

September 2021