Seton Hall's innovative Academy Catholic Social Thought (CST in Action) participated in this year's Petersheim Academic Exposition, not only sharing updates and plans with the University community but also providing valuable outreach to area high school students.
An Academy established in November 2021 through the Provost's Office and the Office of Grants and Research Services Innovation Challenge Grant to deepen research, CST in Action focuses on integrating principles of Catholic Social Teaching with the Social Work curriculum in a manner that respects students with diverse religious beliefs. Through collaboration among interdisciplinary faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, and administrators, CST in Action has thus far developed a new CORE 3 Global Justice course and a CORE 3 service-learning course, and has hosted lectures and discussions with scholars whose work highlights the intersection of Catholic Studies and Social Work.
"When we were presented with the opportunity to invite local Catholic high school students to one of our Petersheim offerings, we were very pleased to do so," said Dr. Ines Murzaku, Director of the Catholic Studies Program and a member of the CST in Action leadership team. "We welcomed a group of students from Mount Saint Dominic Academy in Caldwell, New Jersey, who came to learn about the work the CST in Action Academy is doing and to have a firsthand experience of a collaborative panel discussion and scholarly symposium."
The students were accompanied by their seminar teacher, Dr. Lidiya Tornyova of the Social Studies Department at Mount Saint Dominic, who explained that her students' attendance at Petersheim was particularly meaningful, given the Dominican charism of the school: "As a Catholic school founded by the Sisters of St. Dominic, social justice, study, and service are at the core of our values, and I am very happy that the students were able to see for themselves an interdisciplinary perspective on the deep connections between those values and their direct application to making a difference in people's lives."
Dr. Martha Schoene, Adjunct Professor of Physics at Seton Hall, explained that the initial contact with Mount Saint Dominic was made through the Petersheim Outreach Committee. Dr. Tornyova at Mount Saint Dominic knew that her students, who would soon be presenting their capstone projects, would benefit from seeing scholarly panel discussions and symposia in action, so she and Dr. Schoene arranged for her students to attend.
After arriving on campus, the high school students attended the panel discussion Catholic Social Thought in Action: Integrating Catholic Studies and Social Work Pedagogy and Practice, at which the team leaders provided updates related to their research; upcoming events; and planned courses at the intersection of Catholic Social Thought, Catholic Studies, and Social Work.
Following the panel discussion, the Mount Saint Dominic students also had the opportunity to attend the Center for Community Research and Engagement (CCRE) Petersheim symposium Community Research and Engagement in Action, organized by Timothy Hoffman. In this symposium, Seton Hall students who have worked with CCRE shared their research findings on topics including immigration, environmental justice, and the digital divide in education during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Students from Mount Saint Dominic also shared that attending the panel discussion and symposium enriched their content knowledge, their vision of how to apply Catholic Social Teaching across the disciplines, and their concept of how to effectively participate in scholarly discourse:
"I am very thankful for my field trip to Seton Hall University. Watching the panel presentation and student symposium helped me navigate how I should prepare for and eventually present my capstone project.… As I watched the students present their projects, I studied the way the presenters carried themselves. Their confidence in their voice, what they were saying, and how clear and present their words were gave me a wonderful example of how I aim to act during my symposium at Mount Saint Dominic." - Alexis Dolegowski
"The trip to the exposition at Seton Hall was very interesting and enlightening. Getting to hear the professors, former Seton Hall student, and current Seton Hall student talk about how they incorporate various aspects of learning together (specifically incorporation of religion/Catholic Studies into more traditionally academic areas) taught me a lot about how interdisciplinary learning and research can be…. The student presentations that we saw during the symposium were also very interesting and gave me great insight into what real college research looks like. I enjoyed seeing how the students chose to present their research, and the interesting individual ways they each presented their work made me begin to think more about how I am going to present mine…. Talking with the students after the presentation was also amazing! I liked getting to ask them more about their projects and enjoyed telling them a little bit about mine; getting research advice from college students was such a great opportunity. The conference showed me how versatile research really can be, and I’m so glad I was able to attend!" - Natalia Ferruggia
"Going to the conference at Seton Hall University allowed me to get a proper perspective on what our symposium will look like…. As our symposium continued to get closer and closer, I was getting more and more nervous about presenting in general…. Now, after having gone to the conference, I know better what to expect from anyone who listens to my presentation, how to prepare for it, and that I have no reason to feel nervous." - Sophia Kowal
"I thought the panel presentation was interesting to be a part of. I liked that they had so many connections to both Catholic Social Teachings and Social Work. I believe that it is a good idea to combine both disciplines because there is so much overlapping in morals. The topics that interested me the most from the student presentations in the symposium were the ones with the website resources and the school funding gap. I really enjoyed the presentation about the different resources people can use…. I thought it was good to experience what an academic conference is and how it is conducted." - Katherine Nigro