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Morrissey College of Arts and Science

UN558 Faith and Global Solidarity

capstone program

Jennie Purnell
Professor of Political Science

This course is also offered as PO 225.

Mondays 3:00 - 5:20 p.m.
Gasson 303

course description

What does it mean to live in solidarity with the poor and the marginalized of the world? What do we owe others, and which others do we owe? If we see global solidarity as a commitment of faith and a commitment of politics, what does this mean for our education, relationships, vocations, civic and political engagements, consumption choices, and spiritual lives?

Topics to be explored in this course include international immersion trips, service-learning, and Jesuit higher education; Catholic social teaching on solidarity and justice; faith-based social movements; individual and collective action; and global solidarity in the habits and choices of everyday life.

This course is intended for juniors and seniors who have participated in an international immersion trip at Boston College, and who wish to further explore the meaning and significance of this experience in their intellectual, personal, social, and spiritual lives. Interested students should email Prof. Jennie Purnell for further information and for permission to register.

contact information

Office: McGuinn 502
Department offices: McGuinn 200 and 201
Telephone: 617-552-4177
Office hours: Tuesdays, 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. and by appointment

Please feel free to stop by to chat anytime during my regular office hours—you don’t need an appointment or a particular problem to discuss. If you would like to see me and can't stop by during office hours, please e-mail me to set up an appointment for some other time. I am usually not on campus on Wednesdays and Fridays.

course requirements

Your grade will be based on the following course components:

  • seminar participation and leadership—25 percent of final grade;
  • education essay—20 percent of final grade;
  • research paper—35 percent of final grade;
  • end-of-term synthesis and reflection essay—20 percent of final grade.

Most class sessions will be facilitated by two or three students. Student leaders are responsible for the following: formulating and distributing discussion questions based on the readings (to be e-mailed to the class no later than noon the Friday before); selecting two short passages of prose, poems, music, prayers, and/or meditations to open and close the class session; leading class discussion; and summarizing the gist of the discussion at the end of the session.

See the individual assignments for more information on the education essay, research paper, and end-of-term synthesis and reflection essay. Each assignment includes an assessment rubric.

course readings

The following books are available for purchase at the Boston College Bookstore:

  • Bernard F. Evans, 2006, Lazarus at the Table: Catholics and Social Justice, Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press.
  • Margaret Swedish and Marie Dennis, 2004, Like Grains of Wheat: A Spirituality of Solidarity, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books.
  • Christian Smith, 1996, Resisting Reagan: The U.S. Central America Peace Movement, Chicago: Chicago University Press.
  • John Neafsey, 2006, A Sacred Voice is Calling: Personal Vocation and Social Conscience, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books.
  • Pema Chodron, 2001, The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving Kindness, Boston: Shambala Publications.

course schedule—topics, readings, and assignments

Part one—a well-educated solidarity

  • Week 1 - Introductions and overview of course.
  • Week 2 - International immersion as pedagogy and practice:

Jo Ann Van Engen, 2000, “The Cost of Short Term Missions,” Other Side (January and February);

Sara Grusky, “International Service: A Critical Guide from an Impassioned Advocate,” American Behavioral Scientist 43(5): 858-863;

Ali Newcomb, 2008, “Thoughts from the Other Side of Service and Immersion Trips,” Advanced Study Grant research project conducted in Guatemala;

Stephen J. Pope, 2010, “Immersion Trips,” in Thomas P. Rausch, S.J., Educating for Faith and Justice: Catholic Higher Education Today, Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, pp. 127-142.

  • Week 3 - Being men and women for others—perils and potential of service and service-learning:

Video: Invisible Children;

Binyavanga Wainaina, 2005, “How to Write About Africa,” Granta 92(winter); Ivan Illich, 1968, “To Hell with Good Intentions,” Conference on InterAmerican Student Projects, Cuernavaca, Mexico.

David D. Blouin and Evelyn M. Perry, 2009, “Whom Does Service Learning Really Serve? Community-Based Organizations’ Perspective on Service Learning,” Teaching Sociology 37(2): 120-135.

Mark Ravizza, S.J., 2010, “Praxis-Based Education,” in Thomas P. Rausch, S.J., Educating for Faith and Justice: Catholic Higher Education Today, Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, pp. 111-126.

  • Week 4 - Educating whole persons for solidarity in the real world:

Dean Brackley, 2006, “Higher Standards,” America;

Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., 2000, “The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice in American Jesuit Higher Education,” Commitment to Justice in Jesuit Higher Education Conference, Santa Clara, CA (

Stanley Fish, 2008, Save the World on Your Own Time, New York: Oxford University Press, chs. 1 and 7.

Education essay due today.

Part two—global solidarity in faith and politics

  • Week 5 - Social justice and Catholic social teaching:
    Bernard F. Evans, Lazarus at the Table.
  • Week 6 - Spirituality and solidarity:
    Margaret Swedish and Marie Dennis, Like Grains of Wheat.

Spring vacation—no class

  • Week 7 - Solidarity, faith, and collective action I:
    Christian Smith, Resisting Reagan.
  • Week 8 - Solidarity, faith, and collective action II:
    Christian Smith, Resisting Reagan.

Part three—solidarity in everyday life

  • Week 9 - Solidarity and vocational discernment:
    John Neafsey, A Sacred Voice is Calling.
  • Week 10 - Ethical consumption—who works for you and under what conditions?

Made in a Free World Slavery Footprint: How Many Slaves Work for You? (;

International Labour Organization (ILO), Forced Labor (;

David Masci, 2004,”Human Trafficking and Slavery,” CQ Researcher.

Easter Monday—no class.

Patriots Day—no class.

  • Week 11 - Ethical consumption— solidarity and sustainability:

“Who’s Under Your Carbon Footprint?” Catholic Climate Covenant (;

Thomas J. Billitteri, 2008, “Reducing Your Carbon Footprint: Can Individual Actions Reduce Global Warming?” CQ Researcher;

Rachel S. Cox, 2006, “Ecotourism: Does it Help or Hurt Fragile Lands and Cultures?” CQ Researcher.

  • Week 12 - Meditation, mindfulness, and compassion:

Pema Chodron, The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving Kindness.