The commitment to research that does service to society is an important intellectual and moral focus at Boston College, and one that is particularly nourished by the University’s Jesuit, Catholic ethos and mission. This strategy directs the expansion of that commitment through investments in research programs that, among other things, study health and economic welfare issues among America’s elderly, and the revitalization of urban public education in Boston.
Boston College’s roots are in the city, and the Lynch School of Education has long been dedicated to research of particular relevance to urban education, including standardized testing and early-intervention programs. That commitment has been most recently manifest in the University’s Boston Connects program that currently serves 4,500 children, having recently expanded from 10 schools in Allston, Brighton, Roxbury, and the Mission Hill districts of Boston to a total of 14 elementary schools thanks to significant support from the University and private foundations.
Directed by Daniel E. Kearns Professor of Education and Innovative Leadership Mary Walsh, faculty and students meet with principals, teachers, counselors, and school nurses in order to identify students and their families who may need assistance the school system cannot provide, from health care to social services to legal counsel. “This is a perfect partnership of engaged scholarship and a commitment to social justice,” said Walsh. An interdisciplinary group of faculty helps to coordinate the program and serves as advisors, while undergraduates work as research assistants, and graduate students serve as site and health coordinators.
Educators who partner with Boston Connects have seen improvements in school engagement, attendance, social skills, competence, and classroom behavior. “These partnerships enabled us to extend learning time, to support and enrich academic development, and to keep children happy and safe,” wrote Boston Public School (BPS) principal Catalina Montes in a 2006 BPS newsletter.
“Our students learn by doing and our research is shaped by best practices,” said Walsh. “The research would not be as meaningful if it wasn’t paired with this service component. What else is the purpose of knowledge?”
also in development
- Institute on Aging in the 21st Century
- Center for Catholic Education