Justice & the Many Programs within the Institution

Who We Are: A Multi-Storied Institution

We are faced, then, with how a story or stories become a tradition. A tradition is constituted by a pattern of understanding and evaluations which are developed over time as creative expressions of the founding story. A tradition becomes the medium whereby certain practices and symbols are shaped, sustained and renewed across generations. In the case of Loyola University Chicago, many diverse elements coalesce in the formation of our tradition. But certainly one constant feature, much in line with our founding story, is the binding together of teaching, research and service. But exactly how this "service dimension" is interpreted, and how it affects the other two components of the triad has varied over time.

The fact is that the term "service" has not always been employed univocally here at Loyola. For certain special purposes, "service" remains a rich symbol suggesting outreach to the neighborhood and, in particular, to the less fortunate or marginal. But often, in the practical order, the word gets thinned out and becomes more easily associated with "serving on a committee" than with practicing social justice. This slippage is evident in the "green sheets" used for faculty evaluation.

A somewhat new understanding of service began to emerge as the result of the 32nd General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, held in Rome in 1975. The documents from this Congregation, especially Decree Four, suggested strongly that, for Jesuit institutions, the focus of our service should be the promotion of a faith that does justice. The struggle for justice would carry with it "solidarity with the poor" but it would also involve, to the extent possible, the effort to uncover the structural causes of poverty and to address them theoretically as well as practically.

As a consequence of this emphasis on justice, Jesuits all around the world began setting up new social research and social action centers. It was somewhat more slowly that the traditional institutions of the Society (high schools, universities, and parishes) began to assume the promotion of justice as integral to their own mission and purpose. At least in theory, from this point on, no institution that carries the name "Jesuit" could consider the promotion of justice to be something optional or peripheral. Still, to foster justice in a simple institution is one thing, and quite another, to do so in one which is highly complex and departmentalized.

In spite of its increasing complexity, contact with the poor and promotion of justice have expressed themselves in a variety of different forms over recent years at Loyola. This expression was not always even or "across the board", but the question of how to best serve the poor was never abandoned (e.g., titles of university-wide conversations: in 1980, "Ethics on a Catholic University Campus"; in 1981, "Faith and Justice", in 1986, "Limited Resources & Commitment to the Poor", in 1987, "The Catholic University and the Urban Poor"). And while the specific forms vary from year to year, from school to school, and from department to department, the basic commitment to serving the less fortunate never faltered. It will be of interest to point out Loyola's most exemplary "best practices" in the area of justice:

  • University Ministry: Loyola has developed a very socially oriented ministry program and the university is very supportive of this major priority. Ministry's justice initiatives include Hunger Week (begun in 1973), Loyola4Chicago, local and international immersion trips and spiritual retreats that focus on the theme of justice. In addition, Ministry consistently co-sponsors justice oriented programs on all four campuses.
  • School of Business Administration: Loyola's MBA program places an emphasis on ethics, and explores the relationship of economic ends and means to the non-economical value of our society.
  • School of Education: recently the entire curriculum of the School of Education was reconfigured around the idea of education for justice. From now on, this framework will provide a unifying theme for all of this schools' courses and programs. In order to implement this new curriculum effectively, financial resources are being directed towards faculty development programs to address justice in education.
  • Law School: Loyola's Community Law Center not only provides legal representation to large numbers of indigent persons who cannot afford a lawyer but, in the same process, it trains Loyola students to work competently on behalf of the poor in matters involving family life, government benefits, and landlord-tenant disputes. Furthermore, Loyola's Childlaw Clinic, an outgrowth of the Community Law Center, provides Loyola students with the opportunity to know first-hand the world of poor children and to represent and defend their interests.
  • School of Medicine: Through a variety of service opportunities, medical students are trained to bring primary health services to underserved sectors of the community. An excellent example of this is the recently launched pediatric mobile clinic that provides physical examination, immunizations, hearing and vision tests, etc. to children who otherwise would not benefit from the proper health care.
  • School of Nursing: Loyola's Nursing center and Home Care Service was established over 15 years ago to provide primary health care to those who could not otherwise afford it. Care is provided by nursing students themselves under the supervision of faculty. Home care is provided for the elderly, chronically ill, medically unstable and also for new mothers and babies. The Center also conducts numerous "health fairs" directed at vulnerable populations. Recently, the Nursing School established a health clinic at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago's Hispanic Community.
  • School of Social Work: All courses in the School of Social Work contain content on social and economic justice. But this concept becomes a lived reality as students are gradually immersed in their field placements where they begin to experience and identify real situations of injustice. The School of Social Work is closely linked to the community and works with both public and private agencies to improve the quality of life for those most in need.
  • Institute of Pastoral Studies: The Institute of Pastoral Studies trains people for a faith formation and a ministry that involves justice. The "Instituto Hispano", now part of IPS, prepares members of the Hispanic community for ministry, thus enabling them to assume their rightful role within the church.
  • College of Arts and Sciences: The College is the undergraduate setting where students are first introduced, often through CORE courses, into a systematic reflection on specific topics in which aspects of social justice play a paramount role such as poverty, inequality, unemployment, homelessness, racism, violence, criminal justice, mass media and justice, international relations, terrorism, general approaches to social and political theory, Catholic Social Though, liberation theology, etc. An increasing number of these courses are of a "service-learning" nature, connecting studies with neighborhood organizations and social agencies in conjunction with other course requirements.
  • Mundelein College: Mundelein helps working people to complete their undergraduate studies, studies which have often been interrupted on account of financial constraints.
  • Center for Urban Research and Learning: CURL is dedicated to the development of innovative approaches to community change and also works to accomplish this by promoting creative partnerships between university researchers (students and faculty) and community-based organizations. In this way, CURL not only improves the quality of life in a specific neighborhood but it also enhances the university's perception of its own role and responsibility within the city.
  • Center for Ethics: This Center works to enhance the level, quality and scope of reflection on ethical issues within the university. In addition to offering several short-courses around ethical issues, the Center sponsors a Faculty Fellows Program making it possible for faculty to devote a semester to ethical research without teaching duties. The Center also has extensive outreach activities within the business community as well as among health-care providers.
  • Faith and Justice: The Center for Faith and Mission, established in 1992, assists faculty and staff to grow in appreciation of Loyola's Ignatian heritage and to perceive the connections between faith, justice and Jesuit higher education. Analogously, the Center for Advanced Study of Christianity and Culture, founded in 1997, endeavors to help scholars reflect critically on the place and role of faith in the context of contemporary academia.
  • Gannon Center for Women and Leadership: This center raises the critical questions concerning the relationship between justice and gender as well as between ecology and gender. The center is in the process of developing several courses, research projects and service activities, all imbued with a passion for justice.
  • Literacy Program: The Literacy Center provides free tutoring for adult learners who wish to have a better written and oral grasp of the English language. The tutors are Loyola students and faculty, and it involves a serious commitment of time. Course credit is available to those who participate in the literacy internship program.

More recently, Loyola University, in conjunction with "Faith and Community Partners in Action" and the Considine Chair in Applied Ethics, has made basic computer courses available to the needier neighbors of the Edgewater, Uptown and Rogers Park areas.

  • Youth Network: A recent initiative is the partnership between Loyola University and the Rogers Park Youth Council. Loyola has provided 4,000 square foot building where neighborhood youth can meet. Different departments of the University have begun to co-sponsor activities at this new facility or to provide support in the form of student volunteers. This promises to be a good model of cross departmental collaboration.
  • Habitat for Humanity: Loyola students have worked for Habitat for many years but, more recently, Loyola has provided generous office space for this project that helps low-income families renovate or purchase housing The physical proximity with the Lake Shore Campus facilitates closer collaboration.
  • Financial Aid: LEAP is an acronym for Learning Enrichment for Academic Progress and is one of the main programs whereby Loyola provides exceptional financial support to students who have demonstrated need. The institution commits a very significant amount of funds each year towards need-based scholarships.

Related links:

  • Commitment to Justice
  • Who We Were: Loyola's Founding Story
  • Who We Are to Become: Creating Our Future Together