A Discussion with Katharina Fuchs, Research and Development Associate, Centre for Child Protection, Rome, Italy

With: Katharina Fuchs Berkley Center Profile

July 1, 2018

Background: As part of the Education and Social Justice Project, in July 2018 undergraduate student Mayeesha Galiba interviewed Katharina Fuchs, research and development associate at the Centre for Child Protection (CCP) in Rome, Italy. In this interview, Fuchs discusses how the Ignatian principle of cura personalis (care of the whole person) informs the CCP’s approach to educating diploma students about child protection.

Where do you think that the intersection of education and social justice lies with the work that the CCP does? How do you think education is helping to amplify the CCP’s social justice mission of protecting children?

We try to integrate logical and spiritual aspects in our work; we are following the Christian anthropological approach. We really see every student and colleague as human beings. In addition, we accept them and give attention. Finally, we listen to people in the Ignatian tradition of cura personalis.

That’s one of Georgetown’s main principles.

We try to uphold the very same principle here and seek to give everybody a chance. With regards to social justice more generally, we also talk about the topic of child protection and create awareness. Our goal is to give people the instruments that they need to act and do something. In addition, there’s more than one kind of contribution. Generally, we could help to really make the world a better place. Of course, it takes a lot of time and generations to change tradition, values, and societies. However, at least it’s a beginning. Not in all places, but at least in some places around the globe.

Can you talk a little bit more about your understanding of social justice as a concept? In addition, can you elaborate on how the CCP applies cura personalis?

We try to give attention to each student whether he or she is studying for the diploma or the licentiate. We seek to give each student the chance to grow personally and professionally. In forming the students, we ask: Where is this person? What can their goals be? How can we support them in their situation, life, and position?

We do the very same for our 20 to 24 diploma students. These students come from different countries and backgrounds; they have a different kind of knowledge when they arrive in Rome. Some students heard for the very first time about safeguarding. Other students are already in charge of safeguarding when they come to the diploma program. Students come from diverse backgrounds including psychotherapy, congregations, and schools. We have to think: What do all of them need? We must give each single student the possibility to grow on an individual level. I think that this approach is very important. We have started to revise our approach and to change the program a little bit this spring. These changes are meant to give diploma students even more opportunities for personal and professional group. We also want to give the students the chance to be part of a group. Did Sister Karolin [Kuhn] tell you about this new approach? 

She talked a little bit more about the change into the pedagogical approach.

Right. There will be time for discussions, group work, and personal reflection. In addition, there will be time for faith sharing. Think about elements of a typical Jesuit education. It’s often that first, you obtain some kind of basic knowledge. Then you reflect and discuss. What are my thoughts and feelings about it? How can I transfer my theoretical knowledge into practice? From the students’ perspectives, they may think: Where do I need help and support? Who could be there to help me and to support me? This a very important element for the CCP because it’s impossible to treat and train all the students in the same way. The students come from different cultural backgrounds. The age groups are quite different. It’s not that they come after their A-levels or secondary schools; most of the students are in their thirties, forties, or fifties. The age varies and of course students have different ways of learning and different experiences in their professional and their personal life. So the baseline is different for everybody. Exactly. For us, it’s important that nevertheless every person will have the chance to follow the course and to see what is best for their position, profession, and future work.

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