The World Is Their Classroom

Author: Matt Cashore '94

At Notre Dame, ranked among the top of U.S. major research universities in the percentage of students studying abroad and with 80 percent of its students doing volunteer service, education is not an ivory tower enterprise. Plenty of learning takes place in the classrooms and labs, in residence halls and over lunch. But an institution that wants to change the world must be in the world, so the University has stepped up its efforts to provide its students with experiential learning opportunities through internships, research projects and service-learning initiatives — worldwide.

These programs have taken students to Darfur, Rwanda, Haiti and the Middle East to encounter the effects of violence, injustice, poverty and hatred, and to join the efforts of peace-builders and health-care providers. Engineering faculty and students have gone to Benin in western Africa to bring well-water technology to villages without clean water. Alums and undergrads have gone to Lesotho in southern Africa to build and staff clinics for the youngest victims of AIDS. And MBA students, through a class called “Business on the Front Lines,” have been exploring the role of business in post-war reconstruction efforts, working with Catholic Relief Services in Bosnia and Lebanon.

The Kellogg Institute’s International Scholars Program enables students to understand international relations from the ground up in a wide array of nations — Ecuador, Namibia, China, Peru, Thailand, Uganda, Nicaragua, China and Ghana. The Kroc Institute’s reach is also global, bringing international students to campus and dispatching them, as students and alums, to some of the world’s most troubled corners.

Whether fighting disease in sub-Saharan Africa, grappling with immigration issues along the U.S.-Mexican border, staffing schools in Uganda or negotiating social and political stalemates in Latin America, students are learning the ways of the real world through a variety of possibilities. One hub, though, is Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns. Long known for its Urban Plunge, its week-long service ventures over fall and spring breaks, and its Summer Service Projects, the center’s International Summer Service Learning Program now sends students to 12 countries in South America, Asia and Africa.

Notre Dame, which has sent more of its graduates into the Peace Corps than any other Catholic college or university, has a tradition of engagement far beyond its South Bend campus. University photographer Matt Cashore ’94 has visited some of the places students have gone to live and learn. Here are some of the images he’s brought back.