Villanova University has been jointly involved with Catholic Relief Services’ (CRS) global humanitarian activities since 2005. From the beginning, CGL Associate Faculty Director Ken Taylor, PhD, has been actively engaged in this relationship. In summer 2015, Dr. Taylor was the VSB representative in a university delegation that visited Madagascar for ten days to explore ways in which Villanova could assist CRS in their ongoing efforts.
CRS has been operating in Madagascar (CRS-MG) for 52 years, during which time they have launched six large-scale projects throughout the country. Most recently, CRS-MG was awarded a $38 million, five-year USAID food security grant in 2014. During the fall of 2016, Fr. Peter signed a Master Collaboration Agreement with CRS to deepen the affiliation between the institutions by cooperating through education, research, advocacy and service. This new commitment by Villanova has already begun to impact VSB.
In the spring of 2016, Dr. Taylor will contribute to several aspects of this relationship. First, he will coordinate the selection of two students who will intern in Madagascar during the summer under the supervision of CRS. Second, to bring this learning opportunity into the classroom, he will integrate a case study of Madagascar into his honors section of Global Political Economy. Students will be integrated into teams with Dr. Ruth McDermott-Levy’s Global Health course in the College of Nursing to investigate the economic and social impact of Malagasy health issues. In February, CGL will host Tom Shaw, CRS’s senior technical advisor on microfinance, who will give a presentation to the Villanova community. His topic will be on CRS’s “smart skills” approach to enhance savings among the poor of Madagascar. This will only mark the beginning of a deepening relationship with many other forthcoming opportunities for VSB and CGL’s interdisciplinary collaboration in the context of CRS/Villanova’s new partnership.