The Common Good
May-June 2003

USF: The Common Good

by Elizabeth Palmberg | May-June 2003

Exploring social change on the stage, street, and classroom.

The University of San Francisco, whose motto is "Educating Minds and Hearts to Change the World," challenges students to put both intellect and motivations to work for the common good. For example, in USF's yearlong, residential Erasmus Project, sophomores devote five hours a week to community action. Projects range from the library (researching fair trade coffee for Global Exchange) to the street (serving breakfast to day laborers and collecting their stories). The day laborers' stories will be passed on, as the basis of a possible play, to students in USF's Performing Arts and Social Justice major.

Guadalupe Chávez, an Erasmus alumna and School of the Americas arrestee earning a master's degree at USF's Center for Teaching Excellence and Social Justice, finds in her alma mater the kind of education she wants to give her future students: "I think politics and education go well together—I don't think it can be any other way." Nor is she waiting for graduation to start educating others. Her Peace and Justice Studies minor requires fieldwork; hers was to help eighth graders in San Francisco's Mission District form a social justice club, in which students talk about everything from local gangs and sweatshops to the prospect of war in Iraq.

—Elizabeth Palmberg

Elizabeth Palmberg is editorial assistant at Sojourners. University of San Francisco, 2130 Fulton St., San Francisco, CA 94117; (415) 422-5555;

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