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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

Building: Houses, Community, Resumes?


Event Recap

Boston College student service leaders Dan Couch (A&S ’09) and Matt Raffol (CSOM ’09) each gave an impassioned account of their service experiences under various organizations on campus. Along with Robert Murphy, Associate Professor of Economics, and Jennie Purnell, Associate Professor of Political Science, they served as panelists at an event organized by the Boisi Center Student Advisory Panel on March 19. Andrew Bianco (A&S ’09) served as moderator.

Couch, serving on the 4Boston Council, emphasized the ability of service projects to change students’ perceptions of how their individual choices affect the world beyond. Raffol, active in the Pedro Arrupe Program, as well as having been a participant in various immersion trips, said BC’s Jesuit commitment to service and education allowed students to transform their values into informed social action.

Murphy surveyed the latest research, including his own, on foreign aid at the governmental level and indicated that despite good intentions these programs have not been very effective. Murphy concluded that the real question was not the amount of foreign aid that would alleviate poverty, but how the aid would be employed to assist people. The best way to help, he believes, is service on the ground rather than at large organizational levels. Purnell, who researches faith-based social activism, while also directing the BC Center for Student Formation, spoke to the ideal of service in relation to the Jesuit mission. Purnell proposed that the term “service trip” was a misnomer because service extends in two directions -- from the students and from those they assist. Justice that comes out of solidarity is the Christian ideal. Service and education are integral components to realizing human potential from a Jesuit understanding.