Students share Galapagos Islands diversity with area children

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Days before their Fall Break trip to the Galapagos Islands as part of a course in the Department of Biological Sciences, 14 Notre Dame undergraduates introduced the Darwin-inspiring islands to youngsters at the Robinson Community Learning Center who will be “virtual explorers” with them through the adventure. They urged eager students in 1st through 12th grades to hypothesize about how tortoises reached the islands (maybe they got carried by currents?), how penguins evolved to flourish at the Equator (among other things, they shade their tender feet with their flippers), why finches developed different beak styles (check the seeds they eat), and more. Students examining images wondered why some iguanas were drab and others bright-colored (mating display exceptions to the heat-absorbing dark shades), and learned that marine iguanas sneeze excess salt from their noses after a swim.

The undergraduates will keep in touch with the students through blogs and social media during their visit to six different locations in the islands, where they will conduct observations for their own research projects. Professors Gary Lamberti and Mac Fraser organized the course, a trip embedded in a semester of on-campus study, with support from Notre Dame’s Study Abroad experts.

A grant from the Center for Social Concerns, funded by ND GAIN, enabled the outreach to the students at the Robinson Community Learning Center. The undergraduates will report back to the students when they return from the trip.

Friday, October 7, 2016

In response to the devastation caused in Haiti and elsewhere in the Caribbean by Hurricane Matthew, many international and U.S.-based aid organizations are actively working on rescue and relief for those affected.

Please read below for information on various organizations providing relief in the region and to learn how you might help:

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, development, and assistance with regards to the Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.

InterAction is a coalition of 200 U.S.-based private relief, international development and refugee assistance organizations who work together to coordinate relief efforts and who have agreed to abide by a set of standards to ensure accountability to donors, professional competence and quality of service.  

InterAction has developed guidelines on the most appropriate ways to help those affected by overseas disasters, and published their Standards for Public Volunteering Organizations.

Click here for a listing of InterAction member organizations who are responding to world wide crises.

Catholic Charities USA provides critical disaster services to people of all beliefs. Agencies across the country are constantly monitoring and responding to natural disasters. They are fully prepared to assist families and individuals with shelter, food, and other immediate and long-term needs.

Catholic Relief Services is now responding in some of the most affected areas in southern Haiti. CRS will distribute blankets, kitchen and hygiene kits and other emergency supplies as needed, as well as monitor potential outbreaks of cholera and other diseases.

CARE is responding to this devastating storm with clean drinking water, food assistance and emergency supplies such as tarps for shelter, blankets and hygiene kits. CARE is currently providing meals to hundreds of people in evacuation shelters.

American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee DC can work with trusted partners on the ground to deliver medical relief and coordinate the most pressing healthcare needs facing those impacted by the hurricane.  

Heifer International: Heifer Haiti will be deploying assessment teams to affected communities to provide immediate assistance to our project families in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.

Oxfam International has rapidly set up an evaluation team to assess damages to infrastructure and the impact on communities.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance will immediately begin working alongside established partners to respond to this latest crisis. Immediate response will help provide essential food, water, and supplies for impacted communities and villages. As long-term recovery needs are determined, PDA will continue to support those in impacted areas to ensure a comprehensive recovery.

Save the Children’s emergency teams, in coordination with the government other aid agencies, will work with staff and partners on the ground to assess the immediate needs and help children and families affected.

UNICEF had prepositioned emergency supplies with national authorities to reach up to 10,000 people. Additional water and sanitation supplies, such as water purification tablets, water bladders and plastic sheeting, have been dispatched to the most affected departments in the westernmost tip of Haiti. Humanitarian needs assessments are under way and additional relief supplies will certainly be needed as the full impact of the hurricane becomes clearer.

The World Food Programme is mobilizing staff and resources to provide humanitarian assistance after Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti on Tuesday (4 October).

World Vision staff in Haiti began distributing blankets, toiletries, and bottled water to Port-au-Prince families displaced by the storm. World Vision had prepositioned relief supplies such as tarps, blankets, water containers, and hygiene kits to quickly assist impacted families.

ND Votes Holds Welcome Weekend Voter Registration Drive

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


When freshman Kyle Hyland walked past the ND Votes table on the second floor of Coleman-Morse on Monday, junior Andrew Pott and sophomore Thomas Krill waved him down, asking if he had registered to vote.

Hyland had. Had he requested an absentee ballot? He had not. Would he like to? Sure. Krill walked him through the necessary steps on an iPad before sending him on his way.

Hyland was one of more than 200 students the ND Votes student task force helped register to vote or request an absentee ballot at its Welcome Weekend drive. The organization, an initiative by the Center for Social Concerns and the Rooney Center for the Study of American Democracy whose task force partners with more than a dozen student clubs, set up tables near several events over the weekend, targeting first-years and transfer students.

“It seems daunting to a lot of students, but if you think about it, it’s really not that much time to do a very important duty,” Sarah Tomas Morgan, one of the chairs of the task force, said.

During the spring semester, the University began a partnership with TurboVote, an online registration and ballot-request service. ND Votes used TurboVote this weekend to register students in their home states, have prepaid ballot-request envelopes sent to them and sign them up for election-related notifications.

The goal is to simplify an often-confusing process, varying by state and becoming more complicated with the need for absentee ballots.

“They [TurboVote] basically do literally everything possible to make it as easy as possible to vote, so you have no excuse,” sophomore Abby Ferguson, an ND Votes dorm liaison who was at a registration table in Coleman-Morse, said. 

Many of the registrations and requests happened in the Hesburgh Library “fishbowl,” where an ND Votes table was set up next to ID card production.

Tomas Morgan said the organization found an ally in first-years’ parents.

“The parents were really good about saying, ‘Oh, this is something that’s really important, and you should really get in the habit of voting while you’re in college,’ which is huge, because for many people it’s their first time voting and definitely the first time voting in a presidential election,” she said.

The group also set up near freshman advising meetings in Coleman-Morse and at the Center for Social Concerns annual welcome-back picnic Monday night, drawing more than just first years. Sophomore Megan Reilly, like Hyland and several others, happened to see the table at the picnic and requested her Illinois absentee ballot.

“This is perfect,” she said. “I needed to do this.”

Tomas Morgan said ND Votes will sponsor or help with several events this semester, including discussions, a debate watch and the 2016 Notre Dame Forum, as well as continue to help students register to vote. She said it all harkens back to the organization’s goal of encouraging civic engagement, inspired by a 2016 document on faithful citizenship by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“Participation in political and civic life is a moral obligation, and that’s really something that we try to emphasize and that we believe,” Tomas Morgan said, “because if you’re part in a society, it’s important to be invested and most of all aware of what’s going on, whether that means consciously abstaining from voting or educating yourself on the candidates and voting for a candidate that you feel really good about supporting.”

So far, she said, students appeared eager to vote and recognized its importance.

“They realize that it’s an important thing,” Tomas Morgan said. “You do have to go out of your way to get registered and get your absentee ballots, and it’s a tricky system because every state is different, so we wanted to streamline that as much as possible to get students who were really interested to own their citizenship a little more.”

Tuesday, June 14, 2016


The 2016 Center for Social Concerns (CSC) Community Engagement Faculty Institute (CEFI) was held May 24–26. Now in its fifth year, the Institute gathers community partners, faculty, and graduate students from around the country and from abroad to explore and deepen their knowledge of community-based teaching and research.

The Institute was first held in 2012, and was created as a response to the growing interest in community-based learning at the University. Each year it has brought around 30 participants for three days of lectures and community partner site visits that address a core theme. For 2016, the overarching theme of "Poverty" was framed by daily topics of "Incarceration & Justice," "Immigration & Rights," and "Work & Dignity"—each respectively focused on community, student, and faculty impact.

This was the first year in which the Faculty Institute was open to participants and presenters from outside the University or the South Bend community. Interest was particularly strong among faculty from universities that participate in the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty, a consortium whose intent is "to prepare students for a lifetime of professional, civic and political activity that will diminish poverty, drawing on a multitude of perspectives and initiatives." Member schools work to integrate rigorous, interdisciplinary poverty studies courses and internships into undergraduate education, and the Faculty Institute provides a very effective and adaptable framework for the kinds of teaching and research that transform students and communities long-term.

More than half of this year's participants were from other institutions, including Indiana University South Bend, Niagara University, Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina, Middlebury College, Bucknell University, Manchester University, Hendrix College, Lynchburg College, Furman University, and Washington and Lee University.

Community partner site visits helped participants witness the positive results of long-standing relationships between the University and the South Bend community. Whether at the Center for the Homeless, Goodwill Industries of Michiana, LOGAN Center, the Juvenile Justice Center, Sister Maura Brannick, C.S.C., Medical Center or the Civil Right Heritage Center, participants heard from community partners about their working relationships with students, faculty, and the University.

Faculty Institute director, Connie Mick explains that the Institute gathers people with a genuine commitment to community revitalization and the reduction of poverty. "This year, our focus on poverty at the local and national level led us to have critical conversations about what works and what doesn't in managing and, ideally, reducing poverty. Our local community partners explained their role in addressing poverty and presented best practices for how faculty can work with the community to do engaged teaching and research in any discipline."   

In 2017, the Faculty institute will consider the Center for Social Concerns annual theme, "Solidarity as Soul of Development."  Faculty interested in considering how their teaching and research can help advocate for impact in local communities worldwide may apply to the 2017 Faculty Institute now.


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

On April 16th a powerful earthquake devastated several cities in Ecuador, killing over 400 people and injuring over two thousand. Many international and U.S.-based aid organizations are actively working on rescue and relief for those affected. Please read below for information on various organizations actively providing relief in Ecuador and to learn how you might assist.

The Center for Social Concerns has been a long-time collaborator with Andean Health and Development (AHD), founded by David Gaus, a 1984 Notre Dame alumnus. Gaus spoke in Geddes Hall on Monday, April 18th about the work of AHD and their response to the earthquake. Based in Pedro Vicente Maldonado and Santo Domingo, Andean Health is collaborating with the Ecuadorian Ministry of Health, and AHD’s physicians and nurses are working around the clock to care for trauma patients after the earthquake. AHD is expecting to receive two students through the International Summer Service Learning Program this summer. For more on the work of Andean Health and Development please visit their website.

InterAction is a coalition of 200 U.S.-based private relief, international development and refugee assistance organizations who work together to coordinate relief efforts and who have agreed to abide by a set of standards to ensure accountability to donors, professional competence and quality of service

InterAction has also developed guidelines on the most appropriate ways to help those affected by overseas disasters.


InterAction Member Organizations Responding to Crises Worldwide


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, development, and assistance with regards to the Ecuadorian earthquake of 16 April 2016.


International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent

More than 800 volunteers and staff from the Ecuadorian Red Cross have been active following the earthquake which has killed over 230 people and left more than 1,500 injured.


Catholic Relief Services

Catholic Relief Services is coordinating with other humanitarian organizations and our partners to determine priorities.  



CARE’s humanitarian workers on the ground in Ecuador are on high alert and are working quickly to assess the situation. CARE has worked in Ecuador since 1962.

American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee

American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee is working in cooperation with both the Jewish community of Ecuador, mainly located in Quito and Guayaquil, and our long-standing partner Heart to Heart International, our efforts will focus on medical care and supplies and water purification.


Heifer International

Heifer Ecuador is adjusting their approach in Muisne after the team learned that Saturday's 7.8-magnitude earthquake forced the evacuation of the entire population and razed the village of Santa Rosa, where Heifer project participants were living.


Oxfam International

Oxfam International will shortly be sending teams to the area to assess the extent of damage and how Oxfam can best assist the Government response. 


Presbyterian Disaster Assistance

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is organizing a response to help sustain life and restore hope in the coming days.


Save the Children

Save the Children staff will be working in the days and weeks ahead to give support to those most affected by this earthquake, particularly children.



A ShelterBox response team is travelling to Ecuador to carry out assessments following a catastrophic 7.8 magnitude earthquake near the northern town of Muisne.



UNICEF delivered today 20,000 water purification tablets to Pedernales, the area worst affected by the earthquake that hit Ecuador last night. A UNICEF team is on the ground assessing the impact of the quake on children.


World Food Program

World Food Program is coordinating with the Ecuadorian Government and mounting an emergency response to assist the most vulnerable of the people affected.


World Vision Ecuador

World Vision Ecuador launched an immediate response including distribution of relief supplies and shelter to survivors, and is working to establish access to child friendly spaces to help families and children.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Connie Snyder Mick, Ph.D., associate director for Community-Based Learning at the Center for Social Concerns and codirector of the Poverty Studies Interdisciplinary Minor, has just published Poverty/Privilege: A Reader for Writers, with Oxford University Press. Taking a broad definition of poverty as the denial of choices and opportunities to live a decent life, the reader addresses the enduring question, “Why are people poor?” while also asking, “Why are people wealthy?” Poverty/Privilege examines the social, cultural, and political forces that offer—or—deny opportunities to people based on race, gender, age, and geography. By helping students understand how poverty works, this survey makes them aware of the problem and encourages them to become part of the solution. Developed for first-year composition courses, the reader includes an interdisciplinary mix of public, academic, and cultural reading selections, providing students with the rhetorical knowledge and compositional skills required to participate effectively in discussions about poverty and privilege. Information on poverty studies and other subjects compiled by Snyder Mick, along with her professional profile, can be found at

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