Members of the Fordham Justice Project have been sharing with the University community their energy and enthusiasm for Fordham’s continued commitment to community outreach and service learning. “What’s so exciting at Fordham is all the little pockets of good will and good ideas that are starting to connect the different parts of the University,” said Judith Green, an associate philosophy professor and member of the Fordham Justice Project. “There is a revival of counter-apathetic activity.” Fordham has a rich tradition of justice efforts that culminated in 1974 when former University President, the Rev. James C. Finley, S.J., threatened to shut down the Rose Hill campus if city officials did not commit to helping housing problems in the Bronx. The Rev. Joseph A. O’Hare, S.J., reaffirmed Fordham’s commitment to the community when he created the Office of Government and Urban Affairs as a vehicle for the University to get involved in neighborhood reinvestment projects.
In 1983, the University Neighborhood Housing Project was born to assist in community-based housing preservation. Since then, Fordham students have been involved in any number of social justice events including a Teach-In focusing on globalization sponsored by several student organizations last year, a demonstration at Fort Benning, Ga., to shut down the School of the Americas and the formation of Pax Christi/JUSTICE, a student organization dedicated to promoting human rights and social justice. Today, during the 25th anniversary of the worldwide Jesuit mandate for all orders to link “the service of faith” with “the promotion of justice,” Fordham is exploring ways to institutionalize its efforts and encourage participation from the entire faculty and administration.
“When it comes to justice, you don’t have to invent it here at Fordham, you just have to build on it,” Professor Kelly told the alumni crowd. A regional Jesuit justice conference at Boston College last year created a flurry of activity on campus and led to the creation of the Fordham Justice Project, an interdisciplinary “think tank” that supports justice-focused initiatives. “The Fordham Justice Project helped us bring back to Fordham some of the insight and energy that we got from the Boston College meeting,” Currie said.
“We wanted to encapsulate that and bring those gifts back to Fordham.” With the help of the Fordham Justice Project, the University has expanded its Peace and Justice Studies program to the Lincoln Center campus. Next semester, the University will introduce a formal Service-Learning Credit Program, where students will earn an additional credit for completing a community service project and reflection papers about how their service work relates to classroom studies.