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Jesuit education has engaged the mind, heart, and hands since the 16th century when St. Ignatius founded the Society of Jesus. In 2000, Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach articulated Jesuit education for a new century by calling for personal transformation that would lead to transforming society. The ideal of personal transformation requires a rigorous education to prepare students to become ethical and compassionate leaders and citizens who will leaven society with knowledge, faith, and justice.
For personal transformation to be effective, academic, moral, and spiritual excellence must be integrated with and enhanced by experiential learning. But it must be learning in which immersion and reflection on experience are intertwined and focused on the needs and issues that many in our communities face.
Learning to serve the community has become part of the Santa Clara culture. In the 1960s, the Santa Clara Community Action Program was founded. This program focused almost exclusively on community service. In the 1980s, the first community-based learning courses were offered; launching the Eastside Project, three Jesuits—Dan Germann, Gerdenio "Sonny" Manuel, and Steve Privett—shaped courses in which students would learn from and with the community in East San Jose. In addition, each year the Ignatian awards by the Alumni Association highlight the marvelous work of Santa Clara graduates who have sustained their community engagement beyond their student years.
In this President's Report, you will see many ways students and faculty continue to learn to serve. But the educational philosophy has shifted: It's not just serving others and learning about people, but learning with and from people who are often excluded from participation in economic, social, and political life. And further, it integrates academic inquiry, creative imagination, and reflection on experience that inspires fashioning a more humane and just society. Through these experiences, scholars and students and community members become dynamic partners.
Community-based learning has taken on greater importance in Santa Clara's educational mission. That mission takes the classroom beyond the borders of campus into the community—from Estrella Family Services and Sacred Heart Nativity School in San Jose to Mother Teresa's Sisters of Charity in Calcutta and an environmental justice program in Ghana. It combines community engagement and academic rigor as we educate global citizens for a new century.
Having learned to see the world through the eyes of others, especially the poor, Santa Clara students will lead the way in transforming the world—and find themselves transformed.
Paul Locatelli, S.J.