Saint Louis University Hosts Nearly 400 High School Students for Race Summit

March 14, 2016 - Lori Corzine - lcorzine@slu.edu


On March 9, the Saint Louis University Center for International Studies hosted the Gateway2Change Race Summit, a gathering of almost 400 high school students from across the region who have been meeting to discuss St. Louis race relations since 2014.

Joining the Race Summit were 11 students from the United World College - USA, a two-year international boarding school serving students, aged 16-19, from around the globe. The UWC students were visiting to learn more about the history of American race relations, to understand the context of the Ferguson protests, and to learn more about Saint Louis University's contributions to the St. Louis region. 

From left to right: Drew Schwartz, director of learning and career development at EducationPlus, Margie Vandeven, Ph.D., commissioner of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education,  David Borgmeyer, Ph.D., director of the Center for International Studies at Saint Louis University, and Flannery Burke, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of History at SLU. Submitted photo

From left to right: Drew Schwartz, director of learning and career development at EducationPlus, Margie Vandeven, Ph.D., commissioner of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education,  David Borgmeyer, Ph.D., director of the Center for International Studies at Saint Louis University, and Flannery Burke, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of History at SLU. Submitted photo

All students at the Gateway2Change Race Summit concluded their experiences by sharing their change agent projects - their proposals for how to advance the St. Louis region and its diverse communities positively. One of the UWC students observed, "We often talk about these problems, but here in St. Louis we saw that students don't just talk ... they do."

In addition to group activities and developing their change agent projects, the students were addressed by Margie Vandeven, Ph.D., commissioner of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education; Jonathan Smith, Ph.D., special assistant to the president for diversity and community engagement at Saint Louis University; and Vonnetta West, Ph.D., director of Nonviolence 365 Education and Training at the King Center in Atlanta, Georgia.

They also had a dialogue via Skype with a group of students who started a Gateway2Change project in Rochester, New York.

The meetings took place in SLU's Center for Global Citizenship, which opened in 2014 to promote collaboration across the University to educate and engage Saint Louis University and the wider community for awareness, responsibility, and participation. The Center fosters the Jesuit mission through teaching, research, and service activities that provide local, national, and global linkages.

For more information about the summit, read the coverage by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The SLU Center for International Studies is an academic unit whose mission is to facilitate internationally-oriented education within the College of Arts and Sciences and across the University in collaboration with other units and partners. The Center draws upon outstanding faculty from across the university whose teaching and research is international in character and scope. This provides the deep and diverse expertise necessary to help students prepare themselves in a broad array of fields and disciplines for a rapidly changing and increasingly challenging world.

Gateway2Change is a program initiated by EducationPlus to empower a connected student community of positive change agents to transform the world. It began following tragic events in Ferguson, includes multiple opportunities for students to be active social reform agents for issues related to race and diversity via Student Summits on Race, the Sibling School partnership program and Change Agent Projects.

Those interested in learning more about the Gateway2Change project can contact the founder, Drew Schwartz, at dschwartz@edplus.org.

Jonathan Smith, Ph.D., special assistant to the president for diversity and community engagement at Saint Louis University, addresses the students. Submitted photo

Jonathan Smith, Ph.D., special assistant to the president for diversity and community engagement at Saint Louis University, addresses the students. Submitted photo

For more information about the summit at SLU, contact the Center for International Studies at instud@slu.edu or Flannery Burke, associate professor, Department of History at fburke@slu.edu.