Strategic Directions

Drop Shadow

Catholic Social Thought Proposed Action Plan

[pdf file for printing]

Proposed action objective:

To explore the meaning and significance of Catholic Social Thought throughout the USD community in order to inform a respectful dialogue that fosters both a spirit of inclusion and expresses the Catholic identity of the university.  This process will support the dignity and role of each individual in the human community.

How does this objective contribute to one or more of USD’s overall strategic goals?

This objective sets the foundational environment for many of the strategic goals, most notably:

  • USD will become a more culturally diverse and culturally competent community by encouraging a respectful dialogue on CST while appreciating other faith traditions.
  • USD will provide integrated learning experiences across educational contexts and contribute to the scholarly research on ethics to develop the leadership capacities of all students. Learning opportunities will be provided in and out of the classroom and will encourage reflection on an individual’s role and responsibility to the common good.
  • USD will be an advocate for social justice and human rights by incorporating CST throughout the University and it will be one of the distinctive foundations of the School of Peace Studies.
  • USD will forge stronger relations with alumni and friends by developing a clearer institutional identity regionally and nationally and by providing education and dialogue surrounding CST.

Who is responsible for implementing and monitoring this objective?

Although the USD president is the ultimate champion of this objective—ensuring that the action plan is implemented, monitored, and provided with adequate resources—each of the vice presidents will also support the action plan. Since each vice presidential unit may address CST in different ways, it is important to establish an institutional committee or task force that provides the institutional focus for assessment/reassessment and facilitating interaction between the divisions. The committee will provide a seamless continuity as new members rotate onto the committee, and its membership must fully represent the USD community (e.g., undergraduate and graduate students, alumni, faculty from the College and each of the schools, administration, staff and Board members).

What steps are necessary to achieve this objective?

  1. Provide basic education on CST, using the 7 themes developed in the U.S. bishops’ documents (Summary Report of the Task Force on Catholic Social Teaching and Catholic Education; Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions ; Seven Key Themes of Catholic Social Teaching).
  2. Survey what other Catholic universities and institutions are doing regarding CST.
  3. Conduct an inventory (assessment) of what is occurring already at USD. Use the 7 themes structure when conducting the inventory, but each department will conduct its own inventory.
  4. Schedule open forums to reveal results from the internal inventory and external on-line survey results. Listen to feedback and brainstorm next steps.
  5. Develop action plan goals and timeline for Years 2-5.
    • Articulate University, divisional, College/Schools and department goals.
    • Identify funding sources to bring in national or international speakers from institutions that exemplify CST.
    • Establish annual CST conference or empower Social Issues Conference.
    • Provide continued education on CST.
    • Involve faculty and students to strengthen curricula.
    • Identify ways to strengthen service opportunities involving faculty, students, and staff.
    • Promote ways to incent faculty, students and staff to learn more about CST (e.g., funding to attend workshops; stipends to revise syllabi).

What measurable indicator(s) can be used to monitor progress?

  • Entrance and exit surveys of students: focus on awareness, knowledge and acceptance of CST and the values inherent in these teachings.
  • Interest surveys at the beginning of each year: not only to inform the planning of lectures, workshops, and seminars but to track the themes requested and monitor the attendance levels.
  • Baseline survey in Year 1: how much do people know about CST; followed by periodic surveys (e.g., every 3-4 years) to see if knowledge and acceptance level is changing.
  • Curricula changes: how faculty are incorporating social thought in the classroom setting through teaching and experiential activities.
  • Track number of lectures, conferences and workshops and the attendance levels.
  • Monitor references and recognition of mission statement, core values, and vision statement.

Proposed timeline—what is to be accomplished by:

  • Basic education on the CST themes to students, faculty, staff, friends of USD, and alums.
  • Conduct on-line survey of what other universities and institutions are doing concerning Catholic social teaching.
  • Conduct inventory/assessment of what is occurring already at USD.
  • Facilitate open forums: reveal results from inventory and on-line survey; brainstorm next steps.
  • Develop more fully Years 2-5 based on input received through inventory, survey and open forums.
(To be developed more fully with information gathered in 2005-06.)
  • Establish University, divisional, College/Schools and department goals.
  • Identify funding sources for continued education, workshops, conferences, retreats and speakers.
  • Develop educational process suited to different audiences.

What resources will be required to accomplish this objective?

This action plan would need “seed money” (approximately $25,000) to address the immediate assessment objectives identified in Year 1 (2005-06) of the action plan: the basic education of the campus community; conducting the off-campus on-line survey and making contacts with other institutions; coordinating the on-campus inventory; and compiling the results of this fact-gathering year. Necessary expenses to support Year 1 could result in faculty release time, a graduate assistant position, IRP support, and miscellaneous financial support (e.g., phone budget, copying and duplicating).

The external and internal assessment objectives of Year 1 will inform the budgetary needs of Years 2 through 5. The proposal developed in the summer of 2006 may include money to bring national speakers to campus for seminars, lectures, retreats and workshops; providing faculty stipends for workshop attendance on incorporating CST in the classroom; on-going education of the Board of Trustees, executive management, students, alumni, faculty, and staff; funding travel to attend conferences or visit institutions that are modeling CST in action; developing and maintaining a campus website that will serve as a central resource to support and educate CST at USD. Grants and fundraising opportunities should be explored.