Dominican Higher Education Colloquium 2018

 

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Concurrent Session VI

 

A.  “It Must Teach Life”:  W.E.B. Dubois, Booker T. Washington and the Purpose of Education
          Sean Gray, Providence College

 “Education must not simply teach work— it must teach life.” W. E. B. DuBois wrote these prudent words over one hundred years ago. In his most famous work, The Souls of Black Folk (1903), DuBois examines “the problem of the color line” and, more specifically, monumental educational obstacles that African-Americans faced at the dawn of the twentieth century. As a writer, philosopher, activist, and above all, a teacher, DuBois placed a supreme importance on education for its intrinsic value. His view, however, was not universally accepted by his contemporaries. Booker T. Washington’s autobiographical Up from Slavery, released two years before Souls, stands in direct contrast to DuBois’ ideals of education. As a former slave who pulled himself up from nothing, Washington founded the Tuskegee Institute, a school centered around practicality. He taught in order to give African-Americans real job opportunities, emphasizing pragmatic skills such as building and farming. The public debate between these contemporaries, a war of words and wit, was both polarizing and fascinating, divisive and enthralling. We might like to think that our world is much different from theirs, and that many of the obstacles that these two struggled against are gone. But can we really assume these things? What, then, can we learn from them?

The crux of the DuBois-Washington debate on education, intellectual exercise versus practical training, remains at the forefront of society today. Just last month, Manya Whitaker, an assistant professor at Colorado College, tackled this issue for the Chronicle in her article “The 21st Century Academic.” Examining the psyche of today, Manya writes, “Maybe at one time, most students went to college to broaden their intellectual horizons and figure themselves out. That time has passed. Today more students attend college for a specific reason: professional advancement.” Reading this, DuBois would roll over in his grave, while Washington might be elated. Yet every year, without fail, many liberal arts students get degrees and go on to successful professional careers. Whose train of thought, then, has prevailed today? Or does the true purpose of education lie somewhere in between?

As this conference seeks to explore both “the integration of study and contemplation, both inside and outside of the classroom” and “the importance of embracing diversity in a learning community that seeks truth in God’s Providence,” we cannot overlook the importance of both DuBois’ and Washington’s voices in the matters. Through founding the NAACP, writing works like Souls, and working as both a schoolteacher and a professor, DuBois brought his education outside of the classroom; he took pleasure in intellectual pursuits for their own sake, and in part, encouraged his students to do the same. Washington, conversely, sought primarily to teach “out-of-the-classroom skills” to African-Americans as a catalyst for social mobility. By juxtaposing their approaches to education, we can see that their voices can challenge our contemporary assumptions on the role of education in shaping a better society, a better world: What purpose can education serve? How can opposing ideologies come together to reveal a greater truth?

and

“Catholic Higher Education in Service of Evangelization:  Conceiving Learning in Catholic Universities in Light of the Post-Conciliar Theology of Evangelization and Thomas Merton’s Theology of Contemplation”
    Israel Diaz, Barry University

Guided by the principle of the Dominican order, “to hand down to others the fruits of contemplation,” Dominican universities can see learning as serving the evangelization efforts of the church. This presentation will demonstrate that learning, understood in light of the post-conciliar theology of evangelization and Thomas Merton’s theology of contemplation, can contribute to the effectiveness and relevance of the Church’s efforts of evangelization in Catholic universities. Attendees can use information from this session to assist in the development of the institution’s mission and criteria for assessment, curriculum development, social justice efforts, and means of integrating educational technology into academic study.

B.  “Dominican Movement in Higher Education”
         Gregory Heille, O.P., Aquinas Institute of Theology

 The expression in the title of this workshop—“Dominican Movement”—recalls how the friars at the General Chapter in Rome in 2010 called the Dominican way of life a Movement and appealed directly to the young people who study at Dominican schools: “We encourage the young people of our Movement to live even more deeply the ideal of St Dominic in their own lives, and to make a heartfelt commitment as young preachers in the Church, by word and example, with compassion and mercy. . .” (Acts #156).

As I began thinking about the Dominican Movement in Higher Education in light of this year’s colloquium at Providence College, I wrote the following cinquain:

“Dominican Movement”

Gospel
alive, active
naming, opting, testifying
God in us here
Providence

How is God providentially present, alive, and active in our experience of the Dominican Movement in Higher Education? What graces do we experience, what preferential options does the Church ask us to make, to what good news can we testify?

As a Dominican friar serving almost twenty-five years at Aquinas Institute of Theology, I will give my own reflections to these questions—doing so in the context of Pope Francis’s vision for an engaged discipleship on the part of all Christians by virtue of baptism, in a global church with a preferential option for the poor and the environment.

In a facilitated dialogue, I also will invite workshop participants to bring their experience and insight to the topic.

Prior to the workshop, if you would like to compose and share your own cinquain about Divine Providence in Dominican Higher Education, please email your poem to heille@ai.edu (five lines: one noun / two adjectives / three verbs or gerunds / a four-word phrase / and one noun).

C.  “A Brief Introduction to Restorative Justice as an Approach to Campus Conduct and Climate Issues”
           Sheila McMahon, Ph.D. and Team Members, Barry University

Consistent with the Dominican commitment to justice and mercy, restorative justice is a way of responding to concerns about campus climate and student conduct thought an engaged process that matches high accountability with high support. Restorative justice is a practice that is increasingly used in higher education settings to build community, respond to campus incidents, and to address concerns when students who have been suspended return to campus. This interactive workshop will allow participants to experience RJ circle practice, receive resources for further study, and opportunities for further training in RJ practice.

D.  “Identity, Ethics, Curriculum:  Preparation for Community Engagement”
            Susan Kaye Pastor and Roderick Bankston, Edgewood College

This is an interactive and problem-solving based session that examines some of the challenges instructors have faced in preparing students at a predominately white institution for participation within communities of color and identifies necessary aspects of preparation.  We explore the impact of whiteness as social structure and culture on individuals across a range of identities, the importance of reflection on identity, and the divisions exacerbated by approaches to diversity that neglect possibilities for creating understanding through common experience and mutual learning in non-hierarchical settings.   The presenters’ experience suggests that a curriculum that deconstructs the usual mainstream approach to American history and includes content on historical trauma and self-care is useful.   Elements of that curriculum will be shared.

E.  “The Art of Peace Does Not Put Us into Pieces”
         Dianne R. Costanzo, Ph.D., Dominican University, River Forest

In a world where the universe of discourse has become brutal and bullying, we need to find and cultivate civil ways to negotiate conflict.  Aikido, a Japanese martial art that emphasizes the harmonious exchange of energy, might have lessons we can apply to disputatio as we pursue truth.

and

“How to Hold a Flame in a Hurricane:  Understanding and Responding to Mechanisms of Institutional Isomorphic Change”
     Fr. Dominic Verner, O.P., Providence College

 Sociologists of institutional identity and change point to three predominant processes of intuitional isomorphic change (i.e. homogenizing change) among organizations belonging to the same organizational field: coercive conformities arise in response to political pressure and the goal of cultural legitimacy, mimetic conformities arise in response to the problem of uncertainty, and normative conformities arise in response to professionalization.1 Of course, not every intuitional conformity is identity compromising, and some institutional conformities are indeed “best practices” which are adopted to the benefit of our Catholic and Dominican mission. Nevertheless, not all conformities are identity and mission enhancing, and because the pressures leading to institutional conformities persist within organizational fields, these pressures must be acknowledged and at times intentionally resisted, as all potential conformities are evaluated with respect to our unique identity and mission.

F.  “True Partners:  The Dominican Charism and Occupational Therapy Education and Practice”
          Mary Walsh Roche, MS. OTR/L and Nadia Rust, OTD, OTR/L, Dominican College of Blauvelt

Spirituality is integral to the work of occupational therapy.  Within the occupational therapy literature spirituality is defined in various ways.  It is considered a capacity and characteristic that resides within the person and influences performance in occupation, and as an expression of meaning, purpose, and connectedness (AOTA, 2014).  The “occupation” in occupational therapy refers to the meaningful, daily activities in which people engage, whether action-based, contemplative, reflective or meditative (Wilcock & Townsend, 2014, p.542).  Occupational engagement occurs in social and cultural contexts and includes customs & beliefs.  Occupational justice is central to the care of a client and is described as the concern that occupational therapy practitioners have with clients rights to participation in everyday activities.  Study and contemplation in pursuit of truth for the benefit of humanity, cultivating compassion and occupational justice and engaging in scholarship are aspects of the Dominican charism incorporated into the occupational therapy program at Dominican College (Bouchard, et al., 2012).  Students engage in reflective study and practice in both their classroom and fieldwork experiences.  This paper aims to describe ways that study and contemplation are actively integrated in various aspects of the occupational therapy curricula.  For example, students engaged in mindfulness practice integrated into classroom activities, developed advocacy projects in an effort to increase awareness of the profession and support the needs of people with disabilities, and engaged in reflective writing about their clinical fieldwork experiences.  Educating students in the theoretical foundations of occupational therapy as well as providing opportunities for active practice aligned with the Dominican charism encourage students to grow into reflective, compassionate healthcare practitioners who pursue the true and the good in the service of others.

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“Student Awareness of Social Determinants of Health (SDH) on a Medical Mission to Jamaica”
    Margaret Whelan, Ethel Ulrich, Joan Ginty, and Denise Walsh, Molloy College

SDH are the social, economic, and political conditions that influence the health of individuals and populations. Many indicators have been used to measure population health.  Data sets commonly used are census data, birth and death records, health surveys and registries, administrative data on education, employment and unemployment, and data from mapping disease, resource distribution, and climate change. In academic settings, increased emphasis has been placed on social responsibility and the recentering of SDH around justice and inequity to increase understanding of how power and privilege can lead to health inequities. After a primary care medical mission trip to Jamaica, nurse practitioner students were assigned to write a paper on the SDH that they became aware of while engaging in this service learning. The Rainbow or Social Model of Health (Dahlgren & Whitehead, 2006) a socio-ecological model that shows that SDH is a multilevel model intersecting at different levels, was used as a framework for this project.

A sampler of student responses:

“It was apparent that the living conditions were poor; habitations were small, and in hazardous condition.  Some neighborhoods appeared unsafe. Access to healthcare is limited due to financial and transportation challenges.  Public clinics and hospitals are available but they are far and few.  Many people lacked basic sanitary conditions and items that are essential to quality daily living.  Older people needed reading glasses; people who worked outside needed sun protection.  Some people presented with congenital deformities or injuries that were never treated and now permanently affected their day -to -day life.  A thread of strength was noted in each community consisting of faith, church and community leaders working together.  Despite the poor living conditions, the lack of lucrative work, and the pain of untreated chronic illness, the majority of those we met were optimistic.  This mission has caused me to reflect on how I may positively influence the quality of life in my own country and I feel compelled to investigate locally where I can start making a difference in my own backyard”.

“It was clear that the patients wanted to stay healthy but it was obvious that they lacked the resources to do so.  They had no way to afford their medications, had no access to a clinic or hospital.  Their health was deteriorating and they had nowhere to turn.  Simple things became chronic illness.  Seeking medical help becomes a luxury because there is always something else more important to address. I was shocked at what I saw on our mission to Jamaica; financial instability seems to be the common denominator and the root of their illnesses.”

“SDH can be seen when any middle class US citizen can drive down the block to get a bottle of Motrin from one of our many CVS stores, while an impoverished Jamaican girl my age does not have that luxury.  Factors including distance, availability of the product, having money to make a purchase and knowledge that Motrin can help relieve pain are major concerns for one individual and not even a second thought for another.  Will a woman die waiting for a few years to have a suspicious breast lump removed?  Will this four year old ever speak properly with a large hematoma on her lip which should have been removes shortly after birth?  Probably the biggest thing I learned from this mission is that the complexity of a person’s health goes well beyond the biology and pathophysiology of the person, but also the SDH that are in effect. “

“The Jamaican government must intercede to improve economic conditions to effect change.  The Ministry of Health and the government acknowledge the need for social change and the right to universal healthcare; however, access to healthcare will not be achieved if the person’s basic needs are not met.  The SDH in Jamaica do not allow for prosperity.  The health facilities set up by the government and Ministry of Health are meaningless if the person has neither the money nor the transportation to use them.  Our team provided primary care, yet many of the patients we saw also required secondary and tertiary care.  Those living in poverty are at a disadvantage and can easily become a product of their environment making it difficult to create change in their lives”.

“The Jamaicans we cared for were seemingly receptive to the health information we provided, but coming from a complex health delivery system, we need to be cognizant and tactful with how we practice, and incorporate teaching to include the person’s cultural differences and their level of health literacy.  We heard an assortment of problems with daily living, but the Jamaicans do have something in common with us:  a sense of pride about their identity and a keen interest in health maintenance.  We learned about the SDH and how they influenced their choices about their health and the consequences from the lack of a proper system in place.”

G.  “Seeing God in the Workplace – How Business Firms Can Elevate Society by Engaging in Sustainable Business Practices”
           Moira Tolan, Tracey Niemotko, Tom Fitzmaurice, Michael Fox, Veronica McMillan and  Anthony Scardillo, Mount Saint Mary College

 Engaging in sustainable business practices can help to protect the natural environment that God has provided to us. In doing so, businesses may elevate many societal members. Pope Francis emphasizes that “the poor suffer inordinately from the problems we have created by treating the earth as a commodity for our disposal” (2015).” The Pope has repeatedly highlighted the detrimental situations that occur when the earth is viewed as a product from which to deplete resources. In doing so he has inspired businesses to reframe their practices.

Increased profitability can be expected from performing business activities with limited waste and from thinking more carefully about sustainability. This, in turn, will have a positive impact on stakeholder groups, including owners, workers and members of the community.

In our presentation, faculty from diverse business areas will discuss how sustainability practices impact their areas, including accounting, management, marketing, and finance. For example, accounting for sustainability is the “reporting of how a company’s environmental and social impacts may affect its financial condition or operating performance and how well the company can manage forms of capital—financial, natural, social, and human—in order to create long-term value (2018).” In our presentation, a member of our accounting faculty will provide examples of how engaging in this type of reporting has impacted business firms. Likewise, faculty from other functional areas of business will focus upon how sustainability practices in their areas have manifested themselves in a variety of organizations.

Attention will be paid to the way that sustainability practices link departments together and provide for a better functioning organization that interacts in a more meaningful way to the external environment. The manifold benefits that accrue to the firm as an indirect result of the business activities will also be discussed.