Xavier University Students Engage in National Social Justice Leadership Summit
Kelsey Witzgall (Class of 2014, History and French Major) and Rebecca Seipel (Class of 2014, History Major) joined student leaders from Jesuit universities and parishes across the country at the Ignatian Solidarity Network’s 3nd annual University Leadership Summit from July 28-31, 2013. The program was hosted at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio. The ISN University Leadership Summit invites emerging student leaders for social justice to spend four days strengthening their capacity to effect positive social change while deepening their understanding of the relationship between faith and justice emphasized in the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola.
Throughout the program students explored the role of social justice in the context of the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola and Jesuit educational pedagogy, used the Social Change Model as framework for engaging in social justice leadership, developed organizing skills, and networked with student peers.
ISN executive director, Christopher Kerr, reflected on the program’s intentions by saying, “Developing emerging leaders for solidarity and justice is core to ISN’s mission. The university students who attended the Summit brought tremendous passion and desire to be leaders. Each Summit provides a community of peers to gain energy from and stay networked with long after the program ends.”
Students who participated in previous years have returned to campus to engage their communities in a variety of issues from socially responsible apparel to immigrant rights. When asked about the impact of the program, ISN program director Kim Miller said, “Through my interactions with each year’s summit attendees, it is clear that the opportunity to further form student’s leadership skills grounded in spirituality and justice can have great impacts for their campus and beyond.”
Beyond Xavier University, students attending the Summit represented the following universities: Canisius College, Fairfield University, Georgetown University, John Carroll University, Le Moyne College, Loyola Marymount University, Loyola University Chicago, Loyola University Maryland, Santa Clara University, University Detroit Mercy, University of Michigan/St. Mary’s Parish, and University of San Francisco.
2013 summit presenters include Kathleen Lis Dean, Ph.D., Assistant Provost for Institutional Effectiveness at John Carroll University, James Menkhaus, Ph.D., Professor of Theology at Gannon University, Edward Peck, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Ignatian Colleagues Program, as well as ISN staff, and a panel of Jesuit university alumni with significant social justice leadership experience during their undergraduate years.
The Ignatian Solidarity Network (ISN) is a national social justice education and advocacy network inspired by the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola. ISN was founded in 2004 and is a lay-led 501(c)3 organization working in partnership with Jesuit universities, high schools, and parishes, along with many other Catholic institutions and social justice partners.