Service work is a major underpinning of Jesuit philosophy and, thus, is a cornerstone of Boston College’s mission. Within BC’s programs, few things embody that principle as well as the McGillycuddy-Logue Fellows Program, a multi-semester study abroad program in which students tackle global issues through the avenues of service and social justice. The Fellows Program falls under the broader umbrella of the McGillycuddy-Logue Center for Undergraduate Global Studies.
Founded in 2008 by husband and wife Kathleen McGillycuddy and Robert Logue, the center aims to help BC students develop a more informed perspective on global issues.
The center has a few major functions in facilitating this development, but the most noteworthy is providing over $100,000 a year in travel grants to students on the basis of financial need and merit. Beyond this, the center sponsors a variety of programs and events, like its upcoming International Education Week, which kicks off on Nov. 7, and the Fellows Program.
McGillycuddy and Logue both had hugely successful careers in business—Logue headed a Fortune 500 company, and McGillycuddy served for years as vice president at a large financial firm. Throughout their time in the private sector, the couple traveled abroad extensively and often encountered things that profoundly moved them and altered their outlook on the world. Inspired by what they saw abroad, the duo sought to give students a similar experience. They felt that the best way to share this experience was to create a center for students to develop their worldviews and help them escape the all-too-common United States-centric view of the world, and to develop the tools they need to be successful in life.
“What we wanted to do was create an opportunity to learn, to understand and to have empathy for the way things are done differently around the world,” Logue said. “We wanted to give students a different view of things because we found that if we could do that in an age where the students are developing their thoughts, their ideas, and the ways they operate, that they could have a better understanding and, quite frankly, put them in a better position than other students.”
The Fellows Program, originally titled the Global Service and Justice Program, was revamped over the past two years, with the first cohort of students arriving in 2015. Students undergo a multi-semester journey that begins during the spring of their sophomore year with a course entitled “Global Ethics and Pragmatic Solidarity: Taking Action Towards Transformative Change.” Then, in their junior year, fellows embark on a semester abroad that includes practical learning and service experiences to complement the academic experience. The program culminates in the fall of senior year, when students write a final reflection that combines their in-classroom knowledge and practical experience abroad with a research component.
“The Fellows Program is a multi-semester experience that combines academics, core curriculars, service and the broad experience to help students over the course of a few semesters to really reflect on their lives,” said Nick Gozik, the director of the Office of International Programs. “Students are looking at issues of race, ethnicity, and culture that are challenging students sense of who they are and where they are in the world.”
While abroad, students have the flexibility to participate in a range of activities, from environmental work in Ecuador to working with Syrian refugees in Rome. Fellows typically head toward developing countries in regions like Latin America, for example. This separates them from the mass of students headed to more popular destinations like London or Paris. Students do have the option to go wherever they choose, however, which can include common destinations for study abroad, such as Western Europe or Australia, as long as they engage in a practical experience.
“While abroad, students are expected to engage in some kind of practical learning experience,” Gozik said. “That could be an internship, a service-learning program, or could be volunteerism. When they do that it’s a chance for them to take these ideas, these theories, and immerse on a deeper level in their host country.”
Students apply for the Fellows Program during the fall of their sophomore year. The program is competitive: Of the current cohort, only 13 students were admitted out of 76 applications. One member, Omeed Alidadi, MCAS ’18, said that the program meets a need for conversation on campus.
“I believe there aren’t enough spaces on campus to engage in meaningful conversations about often controversial topics such as privilege, capitalism, and volunteerism,” Alidadi said. “The MLFP definitely fills that void, as it provides a regular forum where students can pause and reflect on the purpose of their academic experience here on campus.”
Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor