Last Thursday, Kathleen Maas Weigert, the recently appointed director of Georgetown’s Center for Social Justice Research, spoke about her plans for the newly formed program and the impact that she hopes it will have on Georgetown and the surrounding community.
Weigert’s plan involves a system that will address three primary areas. First: community outreach with an emphasis on hands-on volunteer programs and research. Second: teaching directives within the D.C. Metroploitan area. And third: an implementation of community service opportunities into the classroom, which would encourage teachers to get their students involved in social service.
Weigert said that the Center for Social Justice Research, which will now encompass Georgetown’s Center for Urban Research and Teaching, Partners in Urban Research and Service Learning and the Office of Volunteer and Public Service, will try to work closely with the University’s administration and faculty in order to implement their new initiatives.
Weigert also said that she feels it is in the University’s Catholic tradition to incorporate service learning into its curriculum. She said she hopes that through these programs Georgetown can live up to the goals outlined in its mission statement.
“If we all do good things together, think of the impact that Catholic higher education could have on the community. If we all work together and share ideas we can accomplish a lot. The Hallmark of Georgetown has been its service and it has done terrific things,” Weigert said.
Weigert did not give any dates or timeframes in which she hoped to have certain programs operating. She said she wanted to get out and meet the students and faculty that she will be working with to talk about the issues.
Weigert said that she feels this program could have a great impact on Georgetown.
“The seeds we plant at Georgetown will grow and come to their fruition, and things beyond our wildest dreams will come true,” Weigert said.
Before coming to Georgetown, Weigert was the Associate Director of Academic Affairs and Research at the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns where she helped develop their Urban Plunge program, one of few like it in the country. In this program, students are brought into the inner city to learn about it and experience what its like for the people living there by emerging themselves in it for a short period of time. In this way, Weigert said, students got to experience some of the things that they were researching and learning about.
While at Notre Dame, Weigert was also influential in creating the university’s Social Service Program, in which students participated in social service initiatives both in the inner city and around the globe.