Overview: Goal of the course:

  • to assist you to integrate a commitment to social justice into your lives and careers.

You will learn:

  • to advocate for social justice
  • to use your professional skills and knowledge to work for social justice.

As a result of all SEM 300 courses ...

  • You will learn the difference between doing charity and working for justice through systemic change. You will show that you understand this difference by producing projects and participating in advocacy work that has long-term goals.
  • You will demonstrate a sustained commitment to the practice of social justice through community-driven projects designed to create social change.
  • You will reflect on the tensions among your individual beliefs and personal interests, political realities, and the common good in local and global communities.
  • You will develop and critique your own personal philosophy of social justice grounded in dignity, equality, and solidarity.

In addition to the goals of all SEM 300s, in this particular SEM 300 you will also learn how to make a life-long commitment to social justice a part of your Professional Development. You will produce tangible outcomes both useful for your career preparation and beneficial to the work of partner organizations like Catholic Relief Services. In order to achieve these goals:

  • You will gain broad knowledge about the interconnectedness of our world.
  • You will learn the needs of partner organizations like CRS and the communities they serve.
  • You will learn how to use your professional skills in ways that benefit the efforts of partner organizations to aid those in need. You will produce research, educational, and media products to raise community awareness of issues affecting the people our partner organizations serve.
  • You will present the results of your research and study to the public in a venue appropriate to your career.
  • You will learn to do an advocacy project throughout the semester that has direct benefit for our community partners and ultimately for the poor they serve.
  • You will learn the skills needed to work for long-term systemic change that benefits the lives of the poor.

Issue Focuses for the Course:

  • Development, poverty, and the Millennium Goals
  • Peacebuilding and effects of war, especially refugees from war
  • food security

Requirements: You will learn

  • You will understand how the United Nations Millennium Goals address the main issues affecting the 3 billion poorest people on earth and what solutions will bring an end to desperate poverty on earth.
  • You will understand three dimensions of the problems affecting the most desperately poor -- food, disease (HIV/AIDS), and war. You will learn the interconnectedness of the problems affecting poor people around the world and how to effect long-term systemic change.
  • You will demonstrate this knowledge in each class by short oral and written reports on your study. A quarter of your grade will be based on these short, frequent reports.

You will produce

  • You will choose one of the focuses of the course--food security, HIV/AIDS, poverty, and refugees/effects of war -- and become deeply immersed in studying that area.
  • Through the guidance of partner organizations such as Catholic Relief Services and Bread for the World, you will produce materials that raise the awareness of Americans about the issue you have chosen.
  • You will use your professional skills to raise public awareness in ways that benefit the efforts of partner organizations. You will produce a major project, such as a multi-media documentary or educational unit on your topic.
  • You will present this project to the public in a venue appropriate to your career. Both content and presentation should be of professional quality. To ensure the highest quality, frequent reports on milestones will be given. Forty percent of your grade will be based on this project.

You will advocate

  • You will learn to participate throughout the semester in a project on food security, one of the priorities of CRS. You will have the opportunity to express your own well-founded position in a variety of ways, including writing to and speaking with legislative aids in Congress.
  • In preparation for your advocacy work, you will have milestones that you will meet and report on throughout the semester, leading up to your advocacy work. A quarter of your grade will be based on this preparation.

You will synthesize

  • You will write a final paper that reflects on and critiques your growth in understanding the Outcomes presented on the previous page and synthesizes what you have learned through research, study, and practice. Ten percent of your grade will be based on this component.

Required Books:

  • Ishmael Beah: A Long Way Gone--Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. ISBN 978-0-374-10523-5
  • Jeffrey D. Sachs: The End of Poverty--Economic Possibilities for our Time. ISBN 0-14-303658-0
  • Numerous Web links

Office hours:

  • M 11-noon
  • T 10-11, 12:15-1:45, after 3:15
  • TH 10-11, 12:15-1:45, after 3:15
  • Other times by appointment: 902-8360(office), 647-2744(home). The snow number is 523. If school is closed for snow, keep on schedule with your work.

The fine print:

  • Attendance: For this class to be successful, your active involvement is needed. I want you to report your excused absences to me before the start of class. Absences due to illness, intercollegiate athletic events, etc., are considered "excused" absences if reported to me in advance via phone (x8360) or via e-mail jzurek at cabrini dot edu, and with the appropriate doctor?s note or athletic director?s note. You will not be penalized for missing that class; however, you are responsible for making up what we learned in class during your absence. It is up to you to find out what you must do both for the missed class as well as for the following class. More than three unexcused absences from this course will likely result in a substantially lower grade or even failure.
  • Cabrini College Academic Honesty Policy: The principal objective of the Cabrini College Academic Honesty Policy is to encourage a dynamic, open and honest intellectual climate based on the personal and academic integrity of all members. It is the responsibility of students to help maintain the community of academic integrity. Students shall not receive credit for work that is not a product of their own efforts. For a full description of the policy, please see the 2005-2006 Undergraduate Catalog.
  • Disability Support Services: Cabrini College provides support services and appropriate accommodations for qualified students with documented disabilities. If you are a student who requires classroom or testing accommodations, please contact Disability Support Services at 610-902-8572 or email at dss@cabrini.edu. Please note that classroom or testing accommodations can only be provided to students who have Accommodation Notification Forms from Disability Support Services. Students are responsible for providing the instructor with the Accommodation Notification Forms and informing the instructor when they need academic adjustments.


  • A = Excellent and very insightful grasp of material as shown both in class and written work. Interesting presentation of ideas.
  • B = Very good, careful, diligent class participation and written work. Shows effort, ability, and insight in preparation, participation, and presentation of ideas but not outstanding in all areas.
  • C = Assignments completed adequately, books read on time, homework handed in on time. Adequate basic understanding of the main points of the books shown in class participation and homework papers. Some aspect of preparation, participation, or presentation of ideas deficient.
  • D = Some books not read on time or some work not handed in on time. Rudimentary understanding of the books. Little class participation.
  • F = Some work missing or some books not read.


  • This is a seminar course. Attendance, promptness, and full participation are expected. Absence from your Community Involvement Project is even more serious because staff and people at your project are expecting you. Absence from your Project jeopardizes your passing the course.
  • One of the criteria by which final grades are determined is class participation. Attendance and punctuality are components of that criteria. You share with me the responsibility for the success and interest of this course. Absences will affect your grade. If you miss class you may be given work to make up for some of what you missed.

Syllabus is subject to change. Schedule: for Tuesday, Jan. 15: Introduction to course

  • advocacy, short-term vs. long-term systemic change
  • justice vs. charity
  • The Millennium Goals
  • using your interests and talents for the common good after college

for Thursday, Jan. 17: Defining Poverty (link to class slides)

  • Read: Sachs, foreword, introduction, ch. 1
  • In class: Video: The Colbert Report: Interview with Jeffrey Sachs
  • Issues: Poverty and development; peacebuilding and the effect of war on children, refugees; hunger and food security; HIV/AIDS and other diseases and health.
  • Defining poverty: Extreme, Moderate, Relative Poverty; ascending the ladder of development. Introduce Millennium Development Goals, US budget.
  • Relationship of poverty and national security.
  • Development is possible: The miracle of Bangladesh by Gapminder.

for Tuesday, Jan. 22: - The Millennium Development Goals

for Thursday, Jan. 24 - Learn about Advocacy

for Tuesday, Jan. 29: - Peacebuilding and war

for Thursday, Jan. 31 - Peacebuilding and war

for Tuesday, Feb. 5 - Peacebuilding and war

for Thursday, Feb. 7: - Microfinance

for Tuesday, Feb. 12: - Peacebuilding and war

for Thursday, Feb. 14: - Agriculture: Key to Development

  • Watch this video on Food Security in Niger (13 minutes) By Feb. 21, answer this question by posting your reflection on http://crs.nortia.org (login required). "After viewing "Journey Against Hunger," reflect upon and discuss the elements that make the foreign assistance highlighted in this video especially effective." http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2786361255383806873&hl=en (video is 13 minutes)
  • Watch this personal story of Thomas Awiapo and how food interacts with other forces in people's lives. (19 minutes) By Feb. 26, answer this question by posting your reflection on http://crs.nortia.org (login required). "In the second video, we hear of how Thomas Awiapo experienced first-hand the complex effects of food insecurity. What does his personal story bring home to you?" http://snipr.com/awiapo (video is 19 minutes)
  • Read Bruce White's essay: "How can the United States contribute." By Feb. 26, answer this question by posting your reflection on http://crs.nortia.org (login required). "Bruce White, CRS food security and hunger policy adviser, brings 20 years in Africa, Eastern Europe, the United States and on Capitol Hill. He addresses the question: How can the United States contribute to improving the capacity of both the governments and people to feed themselves? What are the pros and cons of his proposal?"
  • Read Web page: http://www.crs.org/public-policy/food_aid.cfm
  • Food Security. Begin your participation in the Global Solidarity Network with CRS Ghana and CRS Baltimore Headquarters. Log onto the GSN Web site and study the essay by Bruce White (above) and watch the two short videos (above) on this site: http://crs.nortia.org . Create your account with a user name and password. Over the weekend you will begin to enter into written discussions on the two videos and the essay with students at Villanova, Seattle, and Santa Clara universities.
  • In class--CRS Conference Call #1- Bruce White, Overview of Food Aid, CRS' Advocacy Position -- class may go longer
  • Download and print these questions (Click here). They are what Bruce White will speak about. Use these questions to take notes during his talk. Fill in the answers.
    • What is the Food for Peace Program (PL 480)
    • How did it start
    • What were its purposes
    • Explain the Titles, especially Title II
    • What is the Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust Fund - When did it start
    • It is important to explain that money is not transferred, but commodities - what is monetization
    • What is the Farm Bill? What is its relationship to Food Aid
    • Also important to explain who else benefits from food aid (shipping, etc.)
    • Why is cash important
    • What dept. does food aid come under: USAID, Agriculture, State Dept.?
    • Who decides how much funding is appropriated for food aid
    • Does food aid go to the hungriest countries?
    • How is it decided which countries receive food aid?
    • Do NGOs like CRS compete for food aid contracts
    • How does CRS distribute food aid
    • How is food aid used: emergency, long-term development, food for work
    • Talk about the 25% local purchases issue
    • What percentage of Food Aid does CRS get?
    • Who distributes the rest
    • Does CRS have trucks that pick up the food from U.S. farmers to take it to the docks for shipment overseas?
    • Do you give the food to governments to distribute
    • How much corruption is there
    • How much food actually gets to the hungry? Don't you have to pay bribes along the way
    • Now to the legislative part

for Tuesday, Feb. 19:

  • Food Security. Begin your participation in the Global Solidarity Network with CRS Ghana and CRS Baltimore Headquarters. Log onto the GSN Web site and study the essays: http://crs.nortia.org . Begin to enter into written discussions with students at Villanova, Seattle, and Santa Clara universities.
  • In class video: Aids Relief: Providing Treatment, Restoring Hope in Zambia.
  • Each group will prepare questions for Ken Hackett. Email me the questions ahead of time. Select one member of your group to interview Mr. Hackett for your documentaries.

for Tuesday, Feb. 19 -- Cabrini Founders Day (evening):

  • Ken Hackett, president of Catholic Relief Services, and Ishmael Beah, author of A Long Way Gone -- speak at 7 p.m.
  • Write a reflection on what Hackett and Beah speak about.

for Thursday, Feb. 21:

for Tuesday, Feb. 26:

  • Watch this personal story of Thomas Awiapo and how food interacts with other forces in people's lives. (19 minutes) By Feb. 26, post your reflection on http://crs.nortia.org (login required). "In the second video, we hear of how Thomas Awiapo experienced first-hand the complex effects of food insecurity. What does his personal story bring home to you?" http://snipr.com/awiapo (video is 19 minutes)
  • Study Sach, ch. 11.
  • In class. Watch video "Bread for the World Offering of Letters."
  • NEW!! Read Bruce White's Reflections on Your Emails!!

for Thursday, Feb. 28

for Tuesday, March 4 and Thursday, March 6 - spring break for Tuesday, March 11- Global Poverty Act S.2433

for Thursday, March 13

  • List assets, information & media for your project. List to-dos.
  • Report and reflect on your discussions with your family and friends regarding the Global Poverty Act.
  • Begin preparation for determining specific legislative aids for lobby trip.
  • Study Bruce White's final reflections on your discussions.

for Tuesday, March 18

  • Determine audience & scope of your project. Fill out form for Research Symposium.

for Thursday, March 20 - Holy Thursday for Tuesday, March 25 - Refugees

  • Read Sachs: ch. 16
  • Bring in all assets. Present outline of project.

for Thursday, March 27

  • CRS Conference Call #2 - Food Aid Controversies; State of the Debate -- class may go longer
  • Write your scripts

for Sunday, March 30, at Villanova, 2-5 p.m.

  • Bread for the World lobbying training in preparation for Washington trip.

for Tuesday, April 1

  • To prepare for 4/3 Conference Call, reread: "Tips for Effective Lobbying" (on electronic reserves). Legislative appointments due. Teams self select. JZ notified of teams: 5 p.m., 3/31. 1 page staff briefing sheet due 4/3.
  • Write and produce for your project.

for Thursday, April 3

  • CRS - How to Lobby (Kathy Kalau) in class.
  • Write and produce for your project.

for Monday, April 7

  • Iraqi refugee speakers on Monday, April 7.
  • The General-Secretary of Caritas-Iraq and the Director of the Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center are coming to the United States and will come to us as their first stop on a speaking tour.
  • The plan is for them to speak to Journalism first to get them warmed up and comfortable speaking. Then the refugee team will make a 15-20 minute video interview, downloadable for use in college classrooms.

for Tuesday, April 8

  • Present rough cut.

for Thursday, April 10

  • Final preparation for lobbying. Practice sessions

for Friday, April 11

  • All-day trip to Capitol Hill to lobby Congress in Washington DC on food legislation and other issues.

for Tuesday, April 15

  • Present scope of project & research at Symposium

for Thursday, April 17

  • Editing of project

for Tuesday, April 22

  • Project complete.

for Thursday, April 24

  • Determine replicability of project.

for Tuesday, April 29

  • Dissemination of project

for Thursday, May 1

  • Celebration of project!

for Tuesday, May 6 or Thursday, May 8 Final