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Program Highlights

2020-21 Ignatian Center Program Highlights

Amid the many challenges of the 2020-21 academic year, the Ignatian Center remained grounded in its mission to deliver formative opportunities for the next generation of leaders - even in a virtual context. From online internships across the US, to immigration-focused community organization training, to one-on-one interactions with our most vulnerable neighbors, the Ignatian Center provided students, faculty, staff, and the greater community with opportunities to embrace Jesuit wisdom by inspiring awareness, thought, reflection, discernment, and action - here, there, and everywhere. 


In the wake of K-12 education losses resulting from lack of adequate access to distance learning tools, the Ignatian Center received a generous gift to support educational opportunities in the surrounding community. The gift is providing children and teens in K-12 settings with access to tech equipment and support from SCU student tutors and mentors enrolled in service-learning courses and fellowships. Arrupe Engagement helped 1000+ SCU students to serve the community while meeting the academic requirement for social justice learning in the 2020/21 academic year. Through a large array of “face-to-face” service-learning opportunities on Zoom, Arrupe students were able to tutor young children, teach anti-racism curricula, and participate in virtual Immersions, panel discussions with community members, and live zoom reflection sessions with student fellows. The 2020/21 Student Learning Outcome Survey revealed that 82% of students indicated that their Arrupe placement gave them a greater sense of commitment to using their abilities and gifts to benefit an underserved population. 81% of students indicated that the experience gave them a better understanding of the knowledge, wisdom, and skills of individuals in an underserved community.


In 2020, we relaunced Faculty Grant opportunities to support work on the Catholic intellectual and artistic tradition, Ignatian spirituality, Catholic social teaching, Jesuit education, Jesuit history, or faith and public life. $42,820 was awarded across 9 grants, covering a wide variety of topics including a Summer Speaker Series integrating Ohlone Voices into the SCU Archives and an Anti-Racism discussion toolkit and reading groups. Focusing on Faculty and Staff Development, we launched two new core programs. The first program, Ignatian DNA, consisted of discussion groups open to all faculty and staff, who met over the course of four weeks with short, selected readings each week. The second was a Faculty Seminar on the Catholic Intellectual Tradition, designed to help faculty better integrate their scholarship and teaching with the specifically Jesuit and Catholic elements of Santa Clara’s mission. Published in fall 2020, this edition of the journal highlights the work of our Faculty Fellows and the intersection of their scholarship/teaching and the mission of Jesuit education and features artwork created by SCU students.



Each quarter, 22-30 faculty and staff participated in this very down-to-earth experience of the Spiritual Exercises, and more specifically, "Ignatian Contemplation." For many, it was their first vivid dive into the waters of Ignatian Spirituality. Not only did the program contribute to one's personal spiritual life, but it also contributed deeply to the mission of the university.

Each quarter we hosted this event for faculty and staff, providing them the opportunity to unwind at the end of the day with the SCU Jesuits. The conversations were grounded in 3 questions: What is your daily spiritual rhythm? Where is "God' when you pray? And what is your relationship with Jesus like?  Each Friday throughout the acadmic year, we invited faculty and staff to a guided Lunchtime Examen. Each Examen had a different theme and helped our faculty and staff connect to this core practice of Ignatian Spirituality. 



During the Fall Quarter we hosted a virtual San Jose Immersion program for First Year students. A group of 11 first year students met weekly for 6 weeks with local community partners in San Jose. They explored topics of social identity, food insecurity, houselessness, immigration, criminal justice, and racial justice. The students enjoyed the program so much they asked to continue meeting together beyond the program completion.

During the Winter and Spring Quarters we hosted 6 Immersion Programs in Arrupe Engagement courses. We coordinated with professors to pair immersion partners with course content. These immersions reached over 120 students. We worked with courses focused on Ignatian Spirituality, Law, Social Justice and the Arts, and Spanish language. This past Summer, 14 students participated in a Migration advocacy conference through the Ignatian Solidarity Network. These students committed to action throughout the year with the Undocumented Students and Allies Association on campus at SCU. Additionally, Several of these students participated in our Spring Break virtual immersion with the Kino Border Initiative to further their education on immigration justice.


This Winter Quarter we launched a new fellowship program, the Ignatian Fellowship, modeled after our Summer Jean Donovan Fellowship. We had 14 students participate in the fellowship and commit to working with community organizations. These students provided over 750 combined hours of service to their organizations. This year we had 15 Thriving Neighbors Fellows working with our varied programming in the Greater Washington community. STEM Fellows served as liasons between SCU students and community members, Parent Mentor and Abriendo Puertas Fellows supported community parents and children during remote learning, and High School Mentorship Fellows shared their own experiences as first-generation college students and helped high schooler in their college application journey. This year we had 6 Arrupe Fellows serving as peer leaders for project-based Experiential Learning for Social Justice (ELSJ) courses. Each fellow was tasked with co-creating a virtual engagement project with a faculty member, ICJE staff member, and site supervisor. Additionally, Fellows provided support and attended gatherings centered on vocational discernment, Ignatian Spirituality, and Catholic Social thought.


Thriving Neighbor's conversion to virtual programming led to the creation of a new parent mentoring program supporting families navigating online education, a new high school to college preparatory initiative in collaboration with SCU's LEAD Scholars program, and the expansion of the Leadership Committee's virtual outreach through Web-based platforms. Thriving Neighbors offered the MOBI (My Own Business Institute) program in an online format to Greater Washington neighborhood-based entrepreneurs, teaching business skills ranging from writing business plans, obtaining permits, leases and insurance, and managing business finances. 30 students completed the course with a 97% average passing rate on the final exam. Two SCU student fellows provided tech support and content tutoring for this year's program. Virtual panel discussions held in livestream formats with Thriving Neighbors community leaders helped SCU students learn more about the impacts of Covid-19, systemic racism, economic disparities, and neighborhood gentrification. While their stories addressed collective and individual trauma, they also offered insights into the ways in which community resilience can be bolstered through shared spirituality and faith.