Catholic Social Thought in Action Academy Featured at St. John’s Colloquium
On October 27, Seton Hall University’s Catholic Social Thought (CST) in Action Academy was featured in a colloquium at St. John’s University in New York. A joint venture between the Department of Social Work and the Catholic Studies Program and supported by the Provost’s Office and the Office of Grants and Research Services Innovation Challenge Grant to deepen research, the CST in Action Academy was held up as a model for interdisciplinary research and faith in action.
The Academic Service-Learning Colloquium at St. John’s, sponsored by the Institute for International Communication at the Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional Studies (CCPS), St. John's University, in collaboration with Nancy Deckinger and the Dr. E Lawrence Deckinger Family Foundation, Inc., presented the latest trends and best practices in service-learning research. Basilio Monteiro, Ph.D., Director of the Institute for International Communication at St. John’s, invited a panel of speakers from Seton Hall’s CST in Action Academy to share their research and experiences in integrating theory and practice. This experience derives from the groundbreaking collaboration between the Department of Social Work and the Catholic Studies Program.
Seton Hall’s panel included Anthony Nicotera, J.D., D.S.W., assistant professor, Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Social Work, and Criminal Justice; Dawn Apgar, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Social Work, and Criminal Justice; and Ines A. Murzaku, Ph.D., professor, Department of Religion, director, Catholic Studies Program. They were joined by Amanda Cavanagh ’16, Associate Director of DOVE; Kennedy Dierks ’23, M.H.A. candidate; and Nimmy Roy ’27, Social and Behavioral Sciences major. Victoria O’Keefe, a CCPS Ph.D. student and the residence ministry director of the St. John’s Catholic Scholars program, moderated the panel.
The members of the Seton Hall panel shared the impetus behind the CST in Action Academy and the strategies the Academy has used to integrate academic research-based and experiential learning since its establishment in 2021. The innovative Academy has been highlighted in international conferences, and it has received prestigious accolades for fruitfully blending classroom and life learning experience in order to create meaningful service opportunities and set students on career paths in which they serve with deep understanding and empathy.
Tiffany Mohr, Ph.D., assistant professor and program coordinator of Public Relations in the CCPS at St. John’s, reflected on the value of the colloquium: "The transformative power that academic service-learning embodies inspires me every day. This conference is not merely an assembly of passionate minds—it is a beautiful testament to the unyielding spirit of our students, faculty, and community partners. Witnessing the exchange of knowledge, the insightful debates, and the birth of collaborations is incredibly rewarding."
"We were very honored to have this opportunity to join this day-long meeting of educators and students who share our enthusiasm for service-learning," said Murzaku. "Having engaged in conversations with colleagues from St. John’s and beyond, our team came back with more ideas of ways to enrich our own programs at Seton Hall. We’re looking forward to continued collaboration with St. John’s as our universities seek to show that, in the words of Mother Teresa, 'The fruit of love is service, which is compassion in action.'"