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Saint Louis University to Launch Ignatian Minor in Fall 2022

by Maggie Rotermund
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Maggie Rotermund
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Saint Louis University will launch an Ignatian Service minor for the 2022-23 academic year.

St. Ignatius

The cross-discipline service minor, informally known as iServ@SLU, will focus on project-based, service-learning that challenges students to help support underserved areas in their community while fostering a lifelong commitment to service. 

The service-learning courses will challenge participating students to help transform the city of St. Louis while the city transforms their education. 

Jay Hammond, Ph.D., program director, said the seeds of this program were planted after Pope Francis was elected and people asked what a Jesuit Pope would mean for the world’s Catholic population. The killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson and the subsequent Clocktower Accords at SLU propelled a need to put SLU’s Jesuit values into the work of the University. 

“I wanted to make service in the city more structured,” Hammond said. “As part of the Mission Priority Examen I kept hearing that you could find the mission in pockets around the University. I wanted to turn those pockets into a program.”

The collective-impact model of iServ@SLU will provide a coordinated and collaborative educational pathway to make social justice social for SLU students and the community around them.

As many as 300 first-year and transfer students will participate in the fall. The minor includes three required courses and three elective courses, all of which involve service-learning as an integral part of the coursework. 

The minor was formally approved in Spring of 2020, but the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic forced the delay of program implementation. 

The first course in the minor, SERV 1000: Ignatian Spirituality and Service, is part of SLU’s new CORE and will fulfill the CORE 1600 Ultimate Questions Theology requirement for students. 

As part of SERV 1000, SLU students will have the opportunity to participate in The Clavius Project. The Clavius Project was started in 2014 by students at St. Louis University High School. It brings robotics and STEM enrichment programming into underserved elementary and middle schools across St. Louis. Through the afterschool Clavius Project, middle school students learn robotics, coding, and 3D printing.  

Ten middle schools that serve students from disadvantaged backgrounds will participate in the pilot year. Each school has participated in Clavius programming in the past and will receive additional resources and volunteer capacity. 

A $612,000 grant from the Thomas R. Schilli Foundation (TRSF) to Saint Louis University transferred management of the project to SLU. 

“This is a way for us to answer the call for SLU to be a better neighbor,” said Randall Rosenberg, Ph.D., dean of SLU’s College of Philosophy and Letters and the administrator of the TRSF grant. “I hope this project contributes in a meaningful way to SLU’s call to be St. Louis’ university.” 

Students will take Ignatian Leadership and Service and Ignatian Vocation and Service as required courses. Hammond said he is excited about the vocational aspect of the minor.

“We do a great job preparing our students for their next steps from an academic point of view, but I think we can do more to work with them on the discernment of their vocation,” he said. “What kind of a doctor or engineer do they want to be and how will they serve others?”

Hear Hammond talk about the Ignatian Minor on SLU’s “Mission Matters” podcast 

Hammond said the minor has been student-informed. The nine hours of elective courses will be available across disciplines, if they fulfill at least two of the five learning outcomes and require at least 25 hours of service-learning as an academic component of the syllabus. 

Hammond has been reaching out across the University to work with the colleges and programs to integrate these courses. Those talks will continue over the summer and interested faculty members or college leaders can reach out to Hammond at jay.hammond@slu.edu.

“This is a distinctive program,” Rosenberg said. “We have had students asking for more service-learning and I’m excited to provide this educational pathway for them.”

Saint Louis University

Founded in 1818, Saint Louis University is one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious Catholic institutions. Rooted in Jesuit values and its pioneering history as the first university west of the Mississippi River, SLU offers nearly 13,000 students a rigorous, transformative education of the whole person. At the core of the University’s diverse community of scholars is SLU’s service-focused mission, which challenges and prepares students to make the world a better, more just place.