VEXP 1000 is the integrating seminar of Caritas Community. The Caritas seminar is a one-credit course that finishes at Spring in February 2014. This syllabus contains course expectations for the integrating seminar-“fourth hour.”

Place:  Basement Lounge in Good Counsel

    This is an integrating seminar in which your ACS course, your service at Cristo Rey, your life (past and present and future) and your relationships with one another and the students at Cristo Rey come together.  

    The tools for learning will be found in the experience at Cristo Rey, in your ACS course and in one another in this seminar and in community. Your experience at Cristo Rey becomes a textbook that cannot be read.  Reading (Tolle Lege) will help you raise questions, find answers and contextualize your experience at Cristo Rey.  Reflection without knowledge can be dangerous so you will have required readings for the seminar which will help you raise questions about the issues that affect the students at Cristo Rey.  The questions that you raise may be more important than the answers or solutions you can find at the present time.

    We will learn best from one another if we have open dialogue, ask one another questions, agreeing and disagreeing, taking chances and fully entering into dialogue in the integrating seminar and in your ACS classroom and being fully present at Cristo Rey.

    You have chosen Villanova for college; we are a community of service. As an Augustinian Catholic University we pride ourselves on what we give to others and how that giving transforms who we are in the world.  It is up to you as to let knowledge and experience ignite change in you and possibly the world.

Course Goals:

  • Developing cooperative learning skills in working and learning with and from other members of Caritas Community and the students and teachers at Cristo Rey.
  • Enhancing your skills of class participation through seminar discussion
  • Learning with the students at Cristo Rey.
  • Learning about the consequences of poverty.
  • Learning about your own motivation to serve, to be a good person, citizen and seek the common good.
  • Learning how your experience at Cristo Rey affects the way you read and interpret texts.
  • Applying personal development and leadership skills to all aspects of college life.
  • Understanding more about Villanova's Augustinian and Catholic heritage as it applies to life today.
  • Making a successful transition to college.


  • Service:  Please be faithful to your commitment.  The students rely on your for homework help.  Please plan your academic work so that you are free during your assigned time at Cristo Rey.  There are times that Cristo Rey might cancel and we will let you know as soon as we can. When dealing with outside agencies there will always be circumstances we cannot control.
  • Group Projects; You have two group projects. You will create questions and interview VU students about friendship and create a video or skit.  The second project, responds to the questions, who is my neighbor?  You will be interviewing other VU students and hopefully students and faculty at Cristo Rey. This project is due November 18.

Some ground rules for class:

  • Ask questions.  If you don't understand something, or if you have concerns, ask your instructor or student facilitator.  
  • ACTIVE ENGAGEMENT in class is the best way to be successful in this course. So,
    • Be fully present in every class session
    • Participate in every class session
    • Take chances, volunteer, share your views
    • When participating, share Why you think/feel What you think/feel
    • Cell Phones are off; if you need to refer to an online journal please bring your computer. 
  • Attendance.    Since this course is primarily experiential in nature, you need to attend all classes.  Students who have more than TWO unexcused absences will NOT PASS the class.
  • Assignments are in the syllabus
  • Journal: each week you will be given a journal prompt.  You do not need to respond to all the prompts. 
  • Comfort zone. Some of the material may be new and different, and will touch on sensitive subjects such as religion, politics, poverty and race.  If you are in any way uncomfortable with anything that comes up, please let a member of the leadership team know. Your concerns will be treated respectfully.
  • Copies of work. Please keep copies of all the work that you submit for the entire course.
  • Disabilities. Villanova seeks to make reasonable academic accommodations for students with disabilities. If you are a person with a disability, please contact me outside of class, and make arrangements to register with the Learning Support Office (610-519-5636;  
  • Academic Integrity.  There will be a number of short reaction papers or other assignments for this class.  These will be based on your experience and the materials covered in the course. In producing these works, you are expected to follow the normal rules of academic integrity regarding plagiarism and collaboration.  If you for some reason do consult any other sources in preparing any of these papers, you must include footnotes and a formal bibliography, following the principles laid out in Easy Writer by Andrea Lunsford, which is required for your ACS Seminar.  You are free to share your thoughts and journal and reflections with others at any time regarding the reading for this course.  Discussion outside the classroom is highly encouraged provided your written assignments are your own work.
  • Final Grade.  Because this class actually runs from August to March, you will not receive a final grade for this course until March 2013.



Suskind, Ron.  Hope in the Unseen.   Broadway Books, New York: 2005 (you may order from


Articles and current events will be available on line.  Links are embedded in the syllabus.


Effective Journal Keeping: 

1.  Journal prompts each week are built into the syllabus.  These will prepare you to enter into conversation in the seminar.

2. Writing about your experience each week:  You are encouraged to write in your journal each week after you tutor at Cristo Rey.   Write about your impressions about the school, the students, the staff, and the neighborhood.  What are your initial impressions?  As you move on through the semester, do you feelings, insights or questions change?  This can be a brainstorming exercise, writing freely to surface your impressions.

3.  Critical incidents:    This might be an important time to write in your journal.  Something happened at service and it’s on your mind.  Describe the event that occurred as a part of the service-learning experience.  Why was this significant you?  What underlying issues (societal-interpersonal) surfaces as a result of this experience?  How will this incident influence you in the future?  If this incident created a dilemma for you in what to do or do, bring it to the seminar and talk about it with your peers.


This course is different from most of your courses and will require different skills.  The challenge is to understand how these readings and tutoring at Cristo Rey apply to your own life and the life of the community.   We are asking that you think more critically about the choices that you make, who is your neighbor and what responsibilities you have toward yourself, others and the common good.

Grades for individual assignments, based on a point system, will yield the greatest number of points when the assignment is completed to the best of your ability, with passion and enthusiasm for the topic. Your final grade will be based on four factors.

  • Active engagement in weekly class sessions (40 points)
  • Preparation of assigned reaction papers or other homework (30 points)
  • Grade on two group projects (30 points each)  

































62 or less



Or unexcused absences


Most weekly assignments will be worth 2 pts.

2 pts: Work completed with competence and enthusiasm

1 pt: Work completed in a cursory but passable fashion

0 pts: Work not completed with any degree of competence and must be re-done to gain any points.

You may miss ONE HOMEWORK without any penalty.

Participation: Assessment of your participation will be based on the following rubric:



Strong work[i]

Needs development



Actively and respectfully
listens to peers and instructor

Sometimes displays lack of interest in comments of others

Projects lack of interest or disrespect for others


Arrives fully prepared with all assignments completed, and notes on reading, observations, questions

Sometimes arrives unprepared or with only superficial preparation

Exhibits little evidence of having read or thought about assigned material

Quality of contributions

Comments are relevant and reflect understanding of: assigned text(s); previous remarks of other students; and insights about assigned material

Comments sometimes irrelevant, betray lack of preparation, or indicate lack of attention to previous remarks of other students

Comments reflect little understanding of either the assignment or previous remarks in seminar

Impact on seminar

Comments frequently help move seminar conversation forward

Comments sometimes advance the conversation, but sometimes do little to move it forward

Comments do not advance the conversation or are actively harmful to it

Frequency of participation

Actively participates at appropriate times

Sometimes participates but at other times is “tuned out”

Seldom participates and is generally not engaged





* syllabus VUX 1000 Caritas 7-31.doc
Complete Syllabus and weekly reading/assignments

In the News


Integrate service with your academic coursework! Take a Service Learning course next semester.

Why Service Learning? See why with a PowerPoint Presentation explaining the merits of Service Learning.