Elaine Bennett, associate professor of the sociology and anthropology department and member of the first-year seminar task force, revealed the history of the annual Peace, Justice and Stewardship Festival, hosted by Saint Vincent freshmen.
Up until three years ago, Bennett said, there used to be a group service project day for all the freshman seminar classes.
“They weren’t going to be able to do [the service project] anymore for a number of reasons related to logistics, transportation costs, [etc.],” Bennett said.
The first-year seminar task force gathered together to discuss their options. They concluded that they were not going to stop giving freshmen an opportunity to enculturate themselves into the Saint Vincent community, while also helping to make the world a better place under the Benedictine hallmarks: peace, justice and stewardship.
“These were ideas that we knew we wanted students to be in touch with and to be able to connect with as they moved through their four years,” said Bennett.
The idea of holding an event where different disciplines could show how they were promoting peace, justice and stewardship through a display, presentation or activity grew to fruition. In the process of carrying out the idea of a festival, the first-year seminar task force branched out into other organizations on campus, such as Catholic Relief Services, Service Learning, Study Abroad and Student Ambassadors.
According to Bennett, Catholic Relief Services is a model of promoting fair and ethical trade and has been included in the festival because of their contributions to assisting communities who have been economically struggling. One of the ways that Catholic Relief Services does this is through gathering products from artisans all around the world and selling the merchandise to people in the United States.
“[The members of the task force] thought it would be nice to tie in an ethical trade sale as part of the festival,” said Bennett.
The Career Center also chose to have AmeriCorps and Peace Corps representatives involved in the festival because the themes of peace, justice and stewardship so closely align with the situations on which AmeriCorps and Peace Corps focus.
“[The festival] just sort of comes together and everybody’s coming at the theme from a different angle,” stated Bennett.
The first-year seminar classes were all encouraged to participate in the event.
There are usually a decent amount of people, students and the general public, who take advantage of the festival and stop by to learn about new issues, stated Bennet.