Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Monday, January 09, 2012

A Pedagogy of Hope

Over at the blog Catholic Moral Theology, Jessica Wrobleski, a professor at Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia, has an entry titled Developing a Pedagogy of Hope in 2012. Fortunately, the article is better than the title.
Recently, I was beginning work on the syllabus for RST 230: Catholic Social Thought (which fulfills a general education requirement, and is one of my favorite classes to teach) when I read Pope Benedict XVI’s Message for World Day of Peace 2012, “Educating Young People in Justice and Peace.” As someone who feels called to work in Catholic undergraduate education (and who still counts herself among the “young”), I could not help but feel a particular challenge from this year’s message: how can I more effectively contribute to my students’ education in freedom and truth, in justice and peace and hope in the year ahead?
. . .

I’ll admit, I have found that cultivating a true hope—and not simply naïve or false optimism—is one of the greatest challenges of educating youth in justice and peace. I sometimes struggle with how it is possible to open students’ eyes and hearts to the world’s injustice and violence—the depths of global inequalities of opportunity and development, the injustice and danger of an industrial food system and excessive dependence on fossil fuels, the trauma of generations of people who have never known life without daily threats of violence and conflict and war—without smothering the hope that must nurture and carry forth action on behalf of justice and peace. In my brief experience as a teacher of Catholic Social Thought, I have found that it is not difficult to awaken students to the need for justice and peace in the world, but they often feel overwhelmed by the magnitude and complexity of the issues involved. With each subsequent semester that I have taught this course, I have deliberately tried to foster a pedagogy that can call forth hope as well as teaching truth. I offer a few thoughts toward this end here—by no means as an expert, but rather in the spirit of seeking and sharing in collected wisdom—with the hope that others will do so as well in comments or in other posts here.
The entire blog post is here.

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