Holy Cross to Host 2017 JUHAN Conference

Leading scholars, international humanitarian agencies and local Worcester partners will address current refugee crisis; registration ends June 1

Community partners and students committed to social justice will participate in the 2017 Jesuit Universities Humanitarian Action Network (JUHAN) Conference, scheduled for June 27-29, at the College of the Holy Cross.

The biennial conference, titled “Principles in Crisis: Refugees and Responsibility,” is open to the public and is accepting registration through June 1. The event aims to deepen participants’ understanding of the current refugee crisis; discern ways in which schools within the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) can respond academically and practically to the suffering of those forced to migrate; and learn more about the community partners and scholars invested in this work, said Michelle Sterk Barrett, director of the Donelan Office of Community-Based Learning, which is organizing the conference in partnership with Holy Cross’ Peace and Conflict Studies and the greater JUHAN network.

“This is an incredibly exciting opportunity to bring together students, scholars and practitioners interested in thinking about how we can most effectively and ethically respond to the urgent needs of refugees and immigrants in our world today,” she said. “It’s an issue that has become even more urgent since the conference theme was chosen last summer.”

Keynote addresses will be given by leading humanitarian scholars Michael Barnett of George Washington University and Fr. David Hollenbach of Georgetown University; practitioners Mark Potter of the Kino Border Initiative and Eva Millona, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition; and Fr. Michael Sheeran, president of the AJCU.

Denis Kennedy, assistant professor of political science and conference co-convener said the event will help “bridge distance” between immigrants and the community by fostering greater understanding.

“How do we relate to the plight of refugees? One of our goals in organizing this conference is to provide sustained engagement with issues that, initially, appear not to affect us, but in which we are ultimately implicated.”

The conference will bring together international operational agencies including Catholic Relief Services, Jesuit Refugee Service, Save the Children USA, Oxfam America and Doctors Without Borders. It will also feature local partners who support refugees, immigrants and those seeking asylum in Worcester, including Ascentria Care Alliance, Catholic Charities, Family Health Center of Worcester, Hadwen Park Congregational Church, Refugee Artisans of Worcester, Worcester Alliance for Refugee Ministry, Worcester Interfaith and the Worcester Public Library.

“Worcester is a vibrant, dynamic and diverse place,” said Isabelle Jenkins, associate director of the Donelan Office and conference co-convener. “Opportunities to learn how best to support and be in solidarity with those on the margins are at abundance here. To have a variety of Worcester agencies take part in this conference will make participants’ experience even richer.”

JUHAN was launched in 2006 to bring attention to the meaning of humanitarian response and its implications for the Jesuit ideology of “men and women for others,” and to address humanitarian needs. It has since grown to include Jesuit institutions across the U.S. and internationally.

Visit the event webpage for information on registration, fees, local accommodations and the complete conference program.