Joseph Betz Solidarity Award

The Solidarity Award is presented to a graduating senior or seniors concentrating in Peace and Justice Studies in exceptional circumstances to recognize distinctive service to the cause of justice and peace.

After 45 years of teaching at Villanova University, beloved philosophy professor Joseph Betz retired in May 2011.  Joe's knowledge of social and political issues, and his commitment to active involvement in anti-war and social justice movements in the U.S. and around the world inspired generations of Villanova students and countless colleagues.  Among his many contributions to Villanova, Joe served as the faculty adviser for Amnesty International for 30 years.  He is the longest serving faculty adviser for any Amnesty chapter anywhere in the United States.  Joe was the 2009 recipient of the Lawrence C. Gallen, OSA, Faculty Service Award.

In honor of his steadfast leadership in countless social justice and peace movements, and his unflinching resolve to stand against injustice wherever it is found, the Center for Peace and Justice Education renamed its "Solidarity award" for Professor Betz.  This tribute is a small acknowledgment of the tremendous impact of a man who lives his commitment to peace and justice each and every day.

2016 Recipient: Jane Richter

Jane Ritcher

Jane Richter graduated with a degree in Political Science and Humanities and a minor in Peace and Justice. Jane is a worthy recipient of the Joseph Betz Solidarity Award.  Her interest in service to those experiencing homelessness or poverty began early.  In high school she interned for a local nonprofit called Midnight Run that organized volunteers to donate food, clothes, and toiletries and bring them to particular places in New York City to distribute to those experiencing homelessness and to make conversation and provide company.  She next interned at an organization that assisted in saving extra food from restaurants and connecting it to food banks and shelters.  And later service experiences involved being a youth leader at Bethlehem Farm for a month, interning at a foster care agency called Abbott House, and then working as an intern at the Aquinas Center in Philadelphia.

When Jane got to Villanova, she immediately immersed herself in campus activities focusing on social justice.  She participated in Service Council her freshman year, along with the St. Thomas of Villanova Day of Service committee, and joined the Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week committee.  The following year, she participated in homelessness-oriented service while in the Service Learning Community with the Philadelphia Coalition to End Homelessness and the Student Run Emergency Housing Unit of Philadelphia for which she later became the president, and led a Villanova break trip to Auxier, Kentucky.

Jane’s activities included much campus related activism: she participated in a climate march on campus, helped organize protests against guns on campus, getting her sorority to focus on philanthropy for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund, and finally, lending her voice to the Villanova Voices singing for the residents of area nursing homes.  I participated in routine service with my sorority’s philanthropy, JDRF, and sang at nursing homes with my choir, the Villanova Voices.   

Jane’s academic focus was rich and extensive and intentionally broadened her understanding of the ways in which people are forsaken or abused by social and political forces and policies in order to better serve them. Jane Richter is truly a person who lives and works in consummate solidarity with those who suffer and thus richly deserves being selected for this award.


2015 Recipient: Nora Doherty

Siobhan Cooney

Nora graduated with a degree in Psychology and a Concentration in Peace and Justice Studies. Nora participated in the RUIBAL Challenge which is an all-freshman service program that allows a group of first-year Villanova students the opportunity to build community by volunteering one day a week to serve and support children in inner-city Philadelphia schools and community centers. As a sophomore, she joined the Service Learning Community and through that found SREHUP, the student run emergency homeless shelter, where she served on the executive board.   

In her junior year, Nora held a position on the CRS executive board, specifically the migration group. Before the school year even started, she and her co-leader were collaborating with the law school on a project to raise funds for an Ecuadorian woman, Margarita, who was recovering from being trafficked and now attending nursing school.   

In the spring semester of her junior year, she studied in Seville, Spain where she took a human rights class, learned many of the existing issues in Spain, and did a service learning component in which she spent 5 hours a week volunteering at a daycare for Romani children (“gypsies”).  That summer after junior year, she worked at a summer academy for lower income middle school students in Boston.

As a senior, Nora led a service break trip to Monte Cristi, Dominican Republic, as she continued volunteering weekly with SREHUP, where she took on more leadership roles.  Since she had an easier class load her final semester, she “wanted to do something else with [her] time so [she] began tutoring a refugee from Afghanistan in English. “ After graduation,  Nora will be a part of Teach for America, working as a middle school math teacher at UP Academy in Lawrence, MA.

Past Recipients

2014: Siobhan Cooney
Siobhan graduated with a Theology degree and a concentration in Peace and Justice Studies. Siobhan has always been an incredibly service oriented individual. Giving back to those around her is very important, which is why she is continuing her work next year by doing a year of service. Siobhan started out volunteering at the Student Run Emergency Housing Unit of Philadelphia in her sophomore year, and has served as advocacy director since her junior year. She works hard to form relationships with members of the group and individuals at the housing unit, and also encourages friends to join her for her weekly shift. She went on two Service Break Trips and then decided to lead one trip her senior year.  

She was a Chair for MLK Day of Service from freshmen through junior year. She has served on the Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week Committee for the past four years. She was on the Service Council, was a member of SLC, and was recognized for her commitment to service through her induction into Alpha Phi Omega, the service fraternity. Almost each of her service activities has worked to expand opportunities for the poor and marginalized, which is a choice she has made very intentionally.

Siobhan has a very mature faith-life, from which flows a very natural commitment to social justice.  Her commitment to putting her faith into practice is one of the things that people admire most about her.  She is cognizant of the global scope of challenges facing humanity, and understands her place as a global citizen working for the common good.  She has been powerfully inspired and challenged by principles of Catholic Social Teaching -- particularly, by the principles of Solidarity and the Preferential Option of the Poor. 

While service and putting her faith into action are central for Siobhan, she also has a very advanced grasp of how imperative it is to commit herself to alleviating systemic and structural injustice.  Her next step on this journey of solidarity will lead her to a year of service with JVC Northwest serving and accompanying those experiencing homelessness in Seattle.
For more information about Siobhan's award.

2014: Carolyn Rau
Carolyn graduated with a Political Science degree and a minor in Peace & Justice Studies. She has demonstrated a commitment to justice and solidarity through her academic interests – including 4 different internships with domestic and international nonprofits which focused on issues ranging from hunger/food security, to peacebuilding, to international poverty relief and development – as well as through her four year extracurricular commitments – including service through the St. Thomas of Villanova Day of Service, RUIBAL Challenge, Service Learning Community, Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week and most notably four years as a central member of the Catholic Relief Service’s student Ambassador program (serving an unprecedented two years as Co-President). However, it is best to let this individual’s own words speak for themselves: “The Peace and Justice program has provided me with thought-provoking courses, inspirational professors and mentors, and meaningful extracurricular activities that have both challenged and motivated me. It has given me opportunities to learn about injustices throughout the world and begin to search for solutions. I am confident that I will use my studies and experiences from the Peace and Justice program in my career pursuits working in the nonprofit world. The passions I have been able to explore through Peace and Justice are the same passions that I am hoping to turn into a lifelong commitment to serving the poor and marginalized throughout the world and in my own community.

Much of what I have learned in my study of Peace and Justice will continue to guide my life and future career decisions. I have learned that we each have a commitment to recognize areas of injustice around the world and in our own community and do all that we can to understand and right the wrong. I have also learned that issues of injustice and inequality are interconnected by a web of complexities that should not serve to intimidate us into inaction but to inspire us to be challenged.”

2013: Marissa Pardue
“Solidarity is not a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of so many people, both near and far. On the contrary, it is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say, to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all."On Social Concern (Sollicitudo rei Socialis. . . ), #38

Marissa majored in Sociology, had a concentration in Peace and Justice and a minor in Classical Studies. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and received numerous scholarships and awards. Despite her impressive academic record, this award recognized her commitment to living in solidarity with those who have little power and no voice about the world in which they live.  During the past 4 years, Marissa served off campus with Ruibal, Dream Camp, The Camden Center for Environmental Transformation, Habitat for Humanity, Buildinguate Guatemala, Greener Partners, Food Not Bombs, PAWS (Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society),  and a local rescue group, Spay and Save. 
While on campus, she co-chaired Villanova Environmental Group, co-founded Villanovans in Defense of Animals, served as campaign advocate for Real Food Challenge (which targets college campuses) and reconstituted Villanova’s Just Food group.

Writing about her work in our program, she said:
“After taking numerous courses in Peace and Justice, I began to connect my interest in the environment with issues of oppression, as I focused on environmental racism and environmental justice issues.  Such a focus transitioned into food justice issues, food deserts, food insecurity, and subsequent racial health disparities, before then encompassing sustainable agricultural practices, and ethical means of production and consumption.  Basing many of my research assignments on these topics, I began to alter my own internal value system to include an intentionally compassionate lifestyle premised on the avoidance of pain and suffering for as many beings as possible.  My interest in veganism and veganic agriculture are rooted in my ultimate passion for peace and justice and desire to see all beings with eyes of compassion, as I believe peace in its most basic form begins with our diet and lifestyle choices”. 

Because of her seamless commitment to living in Solidarity with those most vulnerable to the way we live, we congratulate Marissa Pardue and thank her for the example she has set for us all.

2012: Lauren Adderly
Lauren graduated with a triple major in Biology, Theology, and Honors and a concentration in Peace and Justice. As a sophomore, she was one of the founding chairs of Service Council, a formation program for student leaders in faith, service, and justice. She remained involved with Service Council as head chair as a junior and senior. Lauren also served as president of Villanovans for Life, a large, active student group that was a voice for defending human life consistently against the threats of abortion, the death penalty, war, and euthanasia. Each Saturday, she led a group of students to volunteer at a Philadelphia nursing home with the elderly poor and still holds those relationships close to her heart. For three summers, she lived with a religious community on the Turtle Mountain Chippewa reservation in North Dakota, learning to play guitar and ride horses while helping to run a summer camp for hundreds of reservation children and teenagers. For her Honors senior thesis, she examined how Catholic lay movements (specifically the Catholic Worker and the Community of Sant'Egidio) enrich a traditional understanding of charity. Currently, she is living with the Houston Catholic Worker community in their house of hospitality for immigrant women and children.

2012: Caitlin Ingraham
With a major in Biology, concentrations in Peace and Justice Studies, Ethics of Healthcare, and Honors, and minors in Spanish and Theology, Cait thrived in an interdisciplinary approach to her studies. Her plans to become a physician who practices medicine as a form of social justice have been shaped by her Peace and Justice courses and her involvement at the House of Grace Catholic Worker free health clinic in Philadelphia. Cait served as Head Chair of Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, working to make the Villanova community aware of inequality locally and globally, and to provide opportunities for advocacy and action to create change. Cait explored international health care issues as a Global Impact fellow with Unite for Sight and participated in the Service Council. Cait is serving for a year after graduation as a Client Advocate at a women and children’s shelter in Tucson, AZ with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.

2011: Caitlin Greene
Caitlin has been not only a great Peace and Justice Student, but a leader of one of our most active student groups.  As an English major and peace and justice minor, she maintains a GPA of 3.8, and even higher in her peace and Justice classes.  Outside of the classroom, Caitlin’s leadership within the Villanova Environment


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Learn | Serve | Act

Learn | Serve | Act

Departments across the University have collaborated to list opportunities to learn, serve, and act for justice both on and off campus. Click on the hands and check out the opportunities.

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