Letter from the Director
Perhaps the Spring 2013 events at the Boisi Center should be called the “poverty semester.” Two different panels were held on this most important of questions, both focusing on why, at a time when American politics is overwhelmed by questions involving morality, the increasing income inequality in this country has not gotten the attention it deserves. Our panel featured Susan Crawford Sullivan, William Julius Wilson, and Eric Gregory in one of the most in-depth discussions of the subject I have ever heard. All the presenters had fascinating things to say but given our focus on religion, Gregory’s efforts to talk in theological terms about the problem of poverty stood out. In addition, I chaired a similar panel organized by Mark Massa, S.J., dean of the School of Theology and Ministry, that addressed the question of how America’s religious communities should address the problem of poverty.
In line with this focus, our annual Prophetic Voices lecture featured America’s leading community organizer, Ernesto Cortés of the Industrial Areas Foundation. Ernie vividly explained what community organizers do, using biblical and religious references in ways that really caught the attention of the audience. This is our big annual event and we were pleased to see how enthusiastic the response was.
One of the more interesting activities in which I was engaged this past semester was a faculty seminar that dealt with ways in which faculty could present their work to larger, often not specialized, audiences. We had a literary agent, an editor at the Boston Globe, and a writer and former magazine editor speak with us. Carlo Rotello co-chaired the group with me and David Quigley, dean of Arts and Sciences, gave his strong support. This effort comes at a time when all facets of publishing are in some sort of crisis. There is also a strong feeling that universities need to be more responsive to society as a whole. This was a somewhat unique effort to fill both needs. We will continue next year.
Our lunches touched on many questions involving the young. Brooke Loughrin, a BC undergrad who was chosen to serve as the U. S. youth delegate at the United Nations, spoke about her experience. In addition, Meira Levinson of the Harvard School of Education talked about the importance of civic engagement on the part of the young. Her experience as both a school teacher and a scholar gave her talk special depth. Although not concentrating on the young, Erik Owens, my invaluable colleague, continued the education theme with a well-attended and quite lively discussion of how Turkish schools are dealing with the problem of religion.
Now it is on to planning for next year’s events, including a major conference on November 13, 2013, that will be part of Boston College’s 150th birthday celebration. It seems like the themes the Boisi Center was established to address continue to pose questions worth examination. We are grateful to Boston College for enabling us to do so.
— Alan Wolfe