Round-table discussions during the Student Government Summit
The Neumann University Student Government Summit is an annual event at which members of the community, including students, faculty, and staff gather to discuss issues pertinent to the well-being of our campus and reflective of our Franciscan values. As the appointed student chair of this year’s summit, I decided the focus would be environmental issues. This was due in part to my experiences living on a Franciscan campus, and also the influence of our congregation of Sisters of Saint Francis of Philadelphia.
The research for this project began with numerous interviews with various faculty and staff, conducted over the course of three months. One of the earliest interview conducted was with Sr. Patricia Hutchison, OSF, Director of the Neumann Institute for Franciscan Studies. From Sr. Pat I received the document Sustainability and Catholic Higher Education: A Toolkit for Mission Integration. This document served as the impetus for the entire summit, and set the tone for the rest of the preparation process. I also met with Dr. Elaine Grose who chairs the Care for Creation Committee and teaches Environmental Science at Neumann University.
From this document, our summit committee chose five actions that other universities had previously implemented and used these as fodder for group discussions at the Student Summit attended by approximately 100 students and 25 members of faculty, staff, and administration. The discussions focused on how these suggestions could be adapted and used at Neumann University. The discussions were fruitful and interesting, and lead to ideas that will be used as the genesis for future initiatives at the University.
As this project is still a “work in progress”, there are still certain aspects that have yet to be fully realized. A key component of our work will be the actual changes enacted at the institution as recommended by the participants of the summit. The results of our summit discussion will be recorded and disseminated among the participants with the invitation to meet again and push for further discussion.