Jesuit Commons: An Uncommon Approach to Serving the Poor
Tags: Chris Lowney, Jesuit, Jesuit Commons, Jesuit Father Charles Currie, jesuits, Society of Jesus
The Jesuit Commons is a first-of-its-kind initiative that is bringing higher education to some of the world’s poorest people and empowering a millions-strong network of individuals to collaborate on a range of poverty eradication projects.
The Jesuit Commons has developed an online web community, www.jesuitcommons.org, which enables individuals to donate money to worthy projects, donate expertise to poverty-fighting initiatives or to join networks around common concerns.
“Jesuits are blessed with what may be the world’s most extensive educational and social service network, including hundreds of colleges and high schools, millions of alumni, and social service and pastoral agencies serving the world’s poorest,” said Chris Lowney, the president of the Jesuit Commons. “Until now, however, no tool existed to help participants in this extraordinary network find colleagues around the world or form common work groups. We’ve pulled together some of best social media tools out there to create something unprecedented that will empower this network to reach its collaborative potential.”
Another strategy for the Jesuit Commons, named “Jesuit Commons: Higher Education at the Margins”, is using online education technologies to deliver accredited university courses to refugees who have had no previous access to tertiary education. Dozens of refugee students at United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) camps in Malawi and Kenya will begin coursework imminently. They will log onto computers powered by solar cells and begin interacting with Jesuit university faculty sitting halfway around the world.
The Jesuit Refugee Service is providing on-the-ground coordination and expertise. Regis University in Denver is serving as the credentialing institution and administrative lead. And faculty from more than ten Jesuit universities have already stepped forward to grade application essays, teach courses or provide other support.
The Jesuit Commons project reflects one of the founding ideals of Jesuit education – educating those who have traditionally had no access to an education,” said Jesuit Father Charles Currie, president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities and a founding board member of the Jesuit Commons. “The access to education that we are providing is giving hope to individuals who have been displaced and oppressed and are looking for a better life. It’s great to be part of such a life-changing endeavor.” [Jesuit Commons]