Engaging with our World 
Katie Joyce, High School Faculty

By Katie Joyce, High School Social Studies and Religious Studies Faculty

As the first unit of the year draws to a close in my eleventh-grade Social Justice class, I have the pleasure of watching student presentations about their applications of our unit themes. For the past few weeks, we have been exploring the 7 Themes of Catholic Social Teaching, examining why there is suffering in the world, and responding to our call to live out these themes.  

One element I love about teaching this class is that while we use the lens of Catholic Social Teaching, no matter your beliefs we can all agree on the inherent worth and dignity of the people around us. We discuss difficult topics, and we are challenged by the need to act—it is Goal III, after all! 

Early in the unit, students took a blank map and marked areas of the world where they knew there was a current social problem (and, no, they couldn’t just color in the whole map!). They shared with each other what they thought was happening there and often realized that they couldn’t give many details. Students then selected a place to learn more about. 

Through independent research over the course of several weeks, the girls dove into their selected places, consulting a variety of sources to build their understanding of the worldview in areas like Nicaragua, Hong Kong, the Central African Republic or Israel. The only requirement was to show how they examined and applied the themes of our class. I have viewed PowerPoints and posters, read an essay and even visited a website!  

As they shared their learning with their classmates, it was evident that our girls feel connected to the world around them, sympathizing with those suffering near or far. At the end of the semester, these students will continue to build their research skills by choosing a social issue to educate their classmates about, and they will include a call to action.  

I look forward to seeing how these young women can change the world! 

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