Siena Enhances Franciscan Values in CurriculumJanet Gianopoulos

Other Author Around the Province

LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. — Siena College is broadening its influence as a Franciscan and Catholic college by integrating those principles into its curriculum.

Siena’s Franciscan Center for Service and Advocacy has been offering a minor field of study since 2002, with a seminar that included faculty as guests.

When college president Kevin Mackin, shown at right in photo, asked Kevin Mullen to direct the Franciscan Center last year, the expressed desire – as Mullen related to associates recently — was to embody the vision and values of St. Francis of Assisi (from mission statement) “in academic programs.”

The Franciscan Insight Program was developed by the Center to share Francis’s vision with students through their own academic curriculum, with the opportunity to study with a faculty member within his/her discipline and to have hands-on experience of service and advocacy.

Siena’s faculty members in all 25 major fields have been invited to integrate/discern such elements.  Related courses will be taught during spring 2007 as Franciscan Insight-designated courses.

Siena’s vice president for academic affairs, Dr. Linda Richardson, is an eager participant.  Her Public Finance – Financial Advocacy course will place students at not-for-profit organizations, to do a case study and apply principles they have learned: advocating for health care, education, housing, and social justice.

An international marketing course will provide projects that allow students to apply their learning, knowledge, and skills to “real-life” problems that address the needs of the poor and the marginalized.

“Mindfulness in Management” explores the roles of self-awareness and compassion in business.

“Franciscanism in Literature,” which includes work by Peter Fiore, has been percolating in Dr. Tom Bulger’s mind for years.  He previously published a paper on Franciscan themes in the writings of William Kennedy, a Siena alumnus who won a Pulitzer for his Albany tome Ironweed. Bulger’s students will serve with Fr. Peter Young’s Housing, Industries and Treatment (PYHIT) program. Young is also a Siena alumnus.

Students in Franciscan Insight courses will join with their professors to discuss the students’ role and contribution.  The synergy will likely benefit both teacher and student.

It is hoped that through the process of learning, experience and reflection, students will choose to become life-long advocates by integrating the insights of St. Francis into their chosen professions.