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LMU Grad Teaches Harvard Classmates About Social Justice

reynoldsTwenty Harvard graduate students studying how to affect social change visited the LMU campus Jan. 22 to learn firsthand about Jesuit education and what it means to be “men and women for and with others.”

The students – who are Gleitsman or Zuckerman fellows at the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School – were in Los Angeles as part of an annual trip to observe the ways professional skills are being deployed to spread social justice and improve education, healthcare, government and other areas of the public sector.

At LMU, they met with students and administrators involved in the Center for Service & Action, and took part in a forum led by Dean of Students Linda McMurdock and Joe LaBrie, special assistant to the president and professor of psychology.

An expert in Jesuit education, LaBrie discussed the history and principles of Jesuit education, which date back almost 500 years to the founding of the Jesuit Order. “The goal of Jesuit education is to form men and women for and with others,” he said.  “We are looking for leaders in service with the end being a world that is more just.”

That jibed perfectly with the goals of both the fellowships and the four-day trip to Los Angeles, which included meetings with organizations at work on the environment, labor and immigrant rights, economic justice, urban gardening, policing, media, education and healthcare, among others.

LMU was the only university targeted thanks to Robert Reynolds ’12, the recipient of LMU’s annual Ignatian Award. A Gleitsman fellow, studying for a Master in Public Policy, Reynolds accompanied his Harvard classmates. 

Reynolds had talked up the university’s mission to the fellows at weekly dinners. “We talk about and nurture the way we want to change the world,” he said. The difference between Harvard and LMU became clear to him in those discussions. “At Harvard, we discuss that you are called, whereas at LMU we discuss that you are called by God,” Reynolds said.

The visit and getting to know Reynolds has been an eye-opener for the visitors from Cambridge. “I had heard about the Jesuit philosophy and knew they were socially conscious, but not how the Jesuit education motivates and inspires students at LMU,” said said Atul Nakhasi, a Zuckerman fellow, studying for public health policy. “It was exciting to learn about and carry into my life back in Boston.”