Updated on March 7, 2018
The Sister Dorothy Stang Center for Social Justice and Community Engagement at Notre Dame de Namur University
When I entered the office of the Sister Dorothy Stang Center for Social Justice and Community Engagement on the Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU) campus, I found so much more than I had anticipated. The Stang Center is a haven of warmth, tea, and good conversation—and yes, social activism. The staff and students affiliated with the Stang Center work towards social justice and community engagement in many different arenas.
Sister Dorothy Stang (1931–2005)
Who was Sister Dorothy Stang? She was a leader in community engagement and social justice both locally and globally. Sister Dorothy, who graduated from NDNU in 1964, was active in community organizations in the area around the university in San Mateo County, California. But she is best known for almost four decades of work in the Amazon River Basin in Brazil. There she helped to provide education, taught sustainable farming, and defended land rights of the poor in communities pushed into the rainforest. Sister Dorothy was tragically assassinated by gunmen hired by loggers and ranchers.
Call to Action Day
One main focus of the Stang Center is organizing NDNU’s annual Call to Action Day, which comes around every fall semester. During Call to Action Day, over 300 students, faculty, and staff join together in teams to learn through community service projects. They work with a variety of community partners around the San Francisco Bay Area, from food pantries to parks in need of cleaning or plantings.
The Stang Center is the campus’s hub for the national Bonner Leader program. The program supports, trains, and recognizes students who do the heavy lifting in local communities, helping shelters, community homes, and at-risk students, among others.
Bringing students together
The Stang Center also builds bridges among communities and cultures in an effort to open and encourage channels of communication. Last year, for example, I attended a Roundtable on Palestine organized to encourage Palestinian-American students to voice their stories. By the end of the student-led talks, the room felt like everyone was among friends, making it comfortable to ask questions that continued the Q&A session well beyond the scheduled time.
In general, the Stang Center serves as a focus for faculty, students, and staff who want to connect with others engaged in social change, and with organizations serving the community.
For more information on applying to Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU), please visit the admissions page.