The Office of Service-Learning at the University of St. Thomas recognizes that the HIV/AIDS pandemic is one of the most pressing issues of our day. Having already killed 25 million people globally, HIV/AIDS affects the lives of another 33 million people still living, 96% of whom live in the developing world--the majority of whom live with the virus without access to life-saving treatments. Moreover, HIV/AIDS is a disease of young people; half of the 5 million new infections each year occur among people between the ages of 15 and 24, and is leaving in its wake millions of orphans (http://www.unaids.org/en/).
As a Catholic institution of higher learning, we recognize the inherent dignity in every human person, including all those living with HIV/AIDS. As such, the Office of Service Learning is deeply concerned about the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS, not least of which among those living in situations of abject poverty and under oppressive social conditions. Moreover, we are deeply concerned about the destabilizing impact the disease is having on governmental, economic, and familial structures in our increasingly interdependent world, as nations experience reductions in overall work force and GNP while simultaneously confronting rising demands for advanced forms of medical care and coverage.
The Office of Service-Learning aspires to offer hope in an age of AIDS. It is committed to educating its students about appropriate preventative measures, as well as effective, compassionate, and sustainable responses to this medical and cultural crisis of the modern age.
The project of HIV/AIDS Initiatives through the Office for Service-Learning offers service-learning opportunities for students in diverse disciplines, providing a chance to learn about public health through partnership with organizations in the local community, including work in affiliation with:
• Open Arms of Minnesota
• Clare Housing
• Minnesota AIDS Project
Faculty in disciplines as diverse as art history, biology, business, communication and journalism, health and human performance, justice and peace studies, music, philosophy, political science, psychology, sociology, and theology, have developed projects in collaboration with these organizations to provide students with a unique opportunity to apply their coursework to real needs arising in the community.
In 2008, 2010, and 2011, the program has offered overseas opportunities when University of St. Thomas students traveled to Guguletu and Cape Town, South Africa, for an international experience interacting with those affected by the pandemic.
If you have questions, or to learn more about our efforts, please contact: Dr. Kimberly Vrudny, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and Faculty Director for HIV/AIDS Initiatives, at: email@example.com or 651-962-5337.