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Villanova Joins CRS's Global Solidarity Network

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Villanova University is part of a unique pilot project with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and its three other higher education partner institutions: Cabrini College, Seattle University, and Santa Clara University. The pilot is called the Global Solidarity Network (GSN): A CRS and Catholic Higher Education Study eBoard Program. It makes use of modern information and communications technology to make education on issues such as migration, hunger, HIV/AIDS, and other topics more real and available to students and faculty in the United States.

CRS is the official international relief and development agency of the U.S. Catholic Church. It serves the poor in more than 100 countries through programs in emergency relief, HIV and AIDS, health, agriculture, education, microfinance, and peace building.

For a two week period, students and faculty in the four institutions study and participate in online discussions with one another and with CRS staff at its international headquarters and overseas, culminating in a live Q&A video conference. During the spring 2008 semester, GSN will focus on the issue of food security; the region selected is Africa. The first two-week module begins Monday, Feb. 18, and runs through Friday, Feb. 29. The second module is scheduled for April 14 through 25.

To participate in GSN, faculty must register their classes. Once registered, students and faculty can begin posting responses to a specially-designed, secure Web site, said Suzanne C. Toton, Ed.D., a professor of theology and religious studies and GSN site administrator.

After viewing two short videos and reading a brief essay by Bruce White, the CRS policy advisor on food security and hunger, students will be prompted to respond to discussion questions that encourage them to reflect on the complex effects of hunger, the various and creative ways food insecurity is being addressed, and how the United States might contribute toward improving the capacity of governments and people to feed themselves, Dr. Toton said. Ghana CRS staff person, Thomas Awiapo, will join White for the video conference. The April 2008 video conference will feature CRS Agriculture Advisor Tom Remington in Burkina Faso.

Faculty participating in this pilot project include A. Maria Toyoda, Ph.D. (Political Science and Director of East Asian Studies Program); Ronald Hill, Ph.D. (Senior Associate Dean for Intellectual Strategy, Villanova School of Business); Dr. Suzanne Toton; Mark Graham. Ph.D. (Theology and Religious Studies); Kishor Thanawala, Ph.D. (Economics); James Klinger, Ph.D. (Management); Thomas Mogan, M S. (History); Jordan Ermilio, Ph.D. (Engineering); Cheryl Asher, Ph.D. (Economics); and Prof. Ruth McDermott-Levy, MSN, RN (Nursing).

GSN advances awareness of and engagement in global solidarity in two distinct ways: by giving CRS staff a unique forum to interact with faculty and students on U.S. Catholic campuses, and by facilitating dialog and reflection between CRS and faculty, staff, and students, and also among college and university members.

You may learn more about this exciting initiative. Also, please contact Dr. Sue Toton if you have any questions.

Media Contact

Jennifer Schu

Director of Communications, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

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