- At the start, the focus of the UU College of Social Justice (UUCSJ) will specifically be on providing the service-learning and justice-education programs mentioned here. Crafting these into more powerful learning experiences and expanding the portfolio of offerings will certainly consume the bulk of UUCSJ Director Rev. Kathleen McTigue’s and the UUCSJ team’s time initially, and the resources that have been committed so far are only for this part of the work.
- In all cases, the programmatic justice work will continue to be developed, led, and executed by UUA and UUSC program departments and leaders. UUCSJ will collaborate with program leaders to create and execute “signature” service-learning and justice-education programs that use our key institutionally supported justice programs as lenses (e.g., Haiti Just Recovery and immigration programs), but there is no intent to conduct the central program work under one umbrella.
- Since service-learning and justice-education programs are often gateways to activism, the first order of business for the college will be to create more ways for alumni of UUCSJ programs to take the experience home as sponsors, educators, activists, and advocates, and to build those options for personal engagement into the programs from start to finish. Additionally, we plan to create an alumni network of UUCSJ-trained activists.
- In a joint UUA-UUSC leadership planning meeting held March 29–30, 2012, we agreed that, over the next several years, we will work together to deepen options for learning, engagement, and justice making at the congregational level. Components have yet to be determined or developed but might include the following: enhanced programs to help congregations discern priorities for their own collective work for justice, regardless of what they might choose; pathways and resources that make it easier to learn about and engage in selected justice programs of the UUA and UUSC; programs that deepen commitment to, and skills for, local alliance building and activism; or multilevel programs that deepen expertise of our activists from beginner to advanced levels. They might also include tools for examining and acting upon human rights and justice in local communities from a fresh perspective. Any resources will be developed with the idea of facilitating a local, self-guided process at the congregational level, not directing congregations to support specific UUA or UUSC programs.
Q: Who do you mean when you say “future activists”?
A: We mean people of any age who wish to become more committed and effective activists. Of course, many of them will be youth and, especially, young adults, for whom powerful experiences can be life transforming. But we also envision educating seminarians, ministers, other religious professionals, lay leaders, and retirees who wish to begin or renew commitments to justice work.
Q: What kind of programs will be offered?
A: Initially our program portfolio will feature service-learning experiences that take participants directly into the institutional justice work of both the UUA and UUSC — from trips to Haiti with the Papaye Peasants Movement (MPP), a UUSC partner, to immigration journeys hosted by BorderLinks, a UUA partner. We will also be offering special justice-education programs designed for youth, young adults, and seminarians. But we also envision creating educational experiences in issue areas that are of concern to UUs but not addressed by UUA or UUSC programs, through service learning and other educational partnerships, particularly with other UU-affiliated organizations.
Q: Will scholarships be available for these programs?
A: Yes, whenever possible. An explicit and significant part of our fundraising plan is to raise sufficient scholarship resources to make these programs accessible to people of all means. Where we are able to raise scholarship money for a specific program, our current policy is to offer religious leaders and lay leaders committed to social justice a 25-percent discount off the actual direct cost of running the program; we offer seminarians, youth, and young adults committed to social-justice work a 50-percent discount. The idea is to make these programs affordable for those who typically have the least means but for whom they would be most applicable. We also have limited funds available to fully fund some participants based on their statement of need.
Q: To whom will CSJ Director Rev. Kathleen McTigue report in this collaboration?
A: McTigue will report to both Harlan Limpert, the UUA’s vice president for congregational services, and Constance Kane, UUSC’s vice president and chief operating officer, who are the responsible officers representing their respective institutions. They will be assisted in an advisory capacity by other officers of both organizations who will form a Steering Committee that meets regularly. A joint memorandum of understanding details methods for resolving or elevating any disagreements.
Q: Where is CSJ housed physically and legally?
A: CSJ will be housed at UUSC’s offices in Cambridge, Mass. For legal purposes, CSJ will be structured as a program area of UUSC, and the employees will technically be UUSC employees. However, it is operated under joint agreement for the benefit of both organizations as described in a memorandum of understanding that details the joint terms of governance. In governance, accountability, program scope, and funding, it is a fully joint enterprise.
Q: Will the college have other employees?
A: Yes. In addition to McTigue, the college will begin with two full-time employees: Evan Seitz, senior associate for service learning, and Sam Jones, associate for marketing and enrollment. For fiscal year 2013, the CSJ budget includes one additional full-time-equivalent associate position and additional funds for selected consulting projects.
Q: Who is funding CSJ? Is the money coming from other programs?
A: The college has assembled a five-year business plan that projects several sources of revenue. UUSC and the UUA are contributing to several initial staff positions from current operating budgets (see above), but the majority of funds will be raised from major donors, some of whom have already made incremental multiyear gifts expressly for this purpose. Our agreement envisions a concerted joint fundraising effort specifically for this joint program. As a joint venture, the college will be tasked to manage expenses within the limits of the restricted revenues that are raised. The goal is to minimize the use of existing resources, capitalizing on the promise of this exciting venture to encourage incremental giving. So far, the concept has been warmly received by our supporters.
Q: Why did you choose to call this a “college”?
A: Our goal was to find a name that clearly reflected the specific educational mission of this enterprise in order to differentiate it from the work of creating and managing social-justice programs that will continue to be done in our respective institutions. We wanted a name that captured our aspiration to provide serious, high-quality, and transformative educational experiences for people of all ages. The other names we considered either created confusion around the role of the college (e.g., “Social Justice Center”) or failed to signify the meaningful educational experiences we aspire to provide. We wish to communicate the direct, experiential, active nature of the education we envision, and we think of the term “college” in the broadest sense as a source of quality education programs for people from all classes and all walks of life.
Q: Is there a role for other UU justice organizations (the State Action Networks, UU Ministry for Earth, and others) to play in the college?
A: Absolutely. Over time, we imagine exploring collaborations with a wide range of UU justice organizations, helping provide educational experiences that advance our justice work in all its forms. We also aspire over time to build a stronger network of justice organizations that share resources and work more collaboratively toward our shared vision of justice. That will be a process of careful, intentional dialogue and mutual idea building.