Visiting Faith-Justice Fellow Seeks to Multiply Service Efforts

Friday, February 12, 2010

Among the many new faces at Saint Joseph’s University this semester is Joseph Sands, S.J., who comes to SJU as the inaugural Faith-Justice Institute Visiting Fellow.

Fr. Sands comes to Saint Joseph’s after spending the last three years in the Brazilian Amazon region of Brazil where he participated in the Jesuit Mission of Higher Education. During his time in the Amazon, Fr. Sands taught courses in the Federal University of Amazonas, the Institute of Theology and Pastoral Ministry and the Center for Action and Reflection. He holds a doctorate in politics from Princeton University and taught as an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Santa Clara University.

His new position involves working with faculty and student scholars and placement liaisons to integrate service-learning programs into the classroom. Fr. Sands is also involved with the planning and organization of a number of other faith-justice initiatives including the Bolivian Immersion Experience for faculty and staff. He hopes to continue writing about Latin America, drawing on his experiences in Brazil. His recent articles include “Education Funding in a Re-Centralizing Democracy: A Cautionary Tale of Four Brazilian Cities” in Latin American Politics and Society.

“What appeals to me about being here at St. Joe’s is that I have the opportunity to help out with the work of the Faith-Justice Institute and particularly the service-learning program which is one expression of the entire Jesuit mission on campus,” said Fr. Sands.

“I want to make use of some of the elements of the Jesuit mission in the Amazon, which is a completely different context, and integrate what I learned there with what I’ll be doing here,” he said.

Among the lessons Sands hopes to bring from Brazil to Saint Joseph’s is the idea of sustaining a “multiplier effect” on campus.

“In Latin America they put a lot of emphasis on the multiplier effect, which is an element of popular education that teaches others to be agents of multiplication,” Fr. Sands said, offering the example of teaching a course for parish leaders who come from every corner of the Amazon, who then go back to teach courses in their parishes. “So the idea is to multiply the relatively abundant resources of an American university through partnerships with communities beyond the university campus.”

“We are delighted to have Fr. Sands as the Faith-Justice Institute Visiting Fellow for the spring 2010 semester,” said Virginia Goulding Johnson, Ph.D., director of the Faith-Justice Institute. “His knowledge and experiences will be very beneficial to all of our programming, particularly several new initiatives we have on community-based research and on expanding Faith-Justice Studies minors' faith-in-action development. With a Competitive Advantage Fund we received, the Faith-Justice Institute staff will create Minor-Alumni-Faculty Dinner Discussions, which Fr. Sands is planning around Catholic Social Teaching themes. We feel fortunate that he chose to join us in our work.”

The Faith-Justice Institute was founded in 1977 and serves the University as a center that promotes social analysis and critical thought around faith and justice issues. The Institute explores contemporary issues of faith and justice through academic courses, public forums, and experiential field seminars.

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