Georgetown officially opened the doors of its new Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching and Service this semester, a program that university officials say will build upon its strong tradition of commitment to community service and volunteerism. Under the leadership of Director Kathleen Maas Weigert, Ph.D, the center will oversee three existing areas of community service at the school: volunteerism, teaching and research programs in the community and the integration of service into the schools academic curriculum.

For the past 30 years, Weigert studied and worked at Notre Dame in education for service learning and justice and peace studies. Before coming to Georgetown, Weigert served as associate professor of American Studies. At the same time, she served as associate director of academic affairs and research at Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concern and held a position as a fellow at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.

Last year, Weigert received Notre Dame’s Reinhold Niebuhr Award, an annual award given to one “whose life and writings promote or exemplify the area of social justice in modern life.” In addition to heading the Social Justice Center, Dr. Weigert will serve as a research professor in Georgetown’s Sociology Department and Program on Justice and Peace.

In a press release, University President Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J said, “We are extremely pleased to welcome Dr. Weigert to Georgetown. She brings with her an impressive record of leadership and scholarship and a strong awareness of peace and social justice issues. Her extensive experience will benefit our university and the greater Washington community while supporting our mission of educating students to be women and men for others.”

As director of the Center for Social Justice, Weigert will be responsible for overseeing the three existing community outreach offices on campus. Under the current system, the Center for Urban Research and Teaching, Partners in Urban Research and Service Learning and the Office of Volunteer and Public Service all exist independently to serve the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area. Under the advent of the Center for Social Justice, all three offices will now be consolidated, allowing for greater interaction between programs, and strengthening Georgetown’s community outreach program.

In a press release sent out by the school Weigert said, “It is inspiring to know that there are Georgetown faculty, students and staff who care about the challenges facing some of our most disadvantaged communities here and abroad, and who want to help create a more just future for all.”

The school’s community outreach program presently includes more than 20 student run, hands-on service initiatives and a host of professionally run programs as well as educational services. The new Social Justice Center will strive to encourage a larger segment of the student population to participate in community service programs, both by expanding current programs and placing an emphasis on integrating service into a classroom setting.

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