St. Ignatius Dialogues Explore Issues of Hunger and Homelessness

The St. Ignatius Dialogues and Jesuit Cup are a public-service-learning and civic debate initiative developed by CFA’s Communication Arts & Advocacy Program in collaboration with the Civic Debate Conferences (CDC). This event was created to provide students from LMU, other Jesuit universities and the member schools of the CDC with an experiential learning opportunity that combines social action with collaborative dialogue to improve understanding, produce knowledge, and promote the ability of students to negotiate consensus on difficult policy, economic, and social questions.

This year the topic of discussion examined the intersections of hunger, homelessness, and Homeboy Industries. Participation at the event required a mandatory service component hosted by the LA Mission and Homeboy Industries. The LA Mission is a not-for-profit organization which exists to provide help, hope and opportunity to men, women and children in need. Homeboy/Homegirl initiatives is a not-for-profit organization which provides hope, training, and support to formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated men and women allowing them to redirect their lives and become contributing members of our community.

Over two dozen participants registered for the two day St. Ignatius Dialogues and Jesuit Cup this October. On Saturday, October 26th the St. Ignatius Dialogues began with a four hour community service experience at the LA Mission. Students prepared food, cleaned facilities, decorated signs, washed dishes, and helped contribute to the work of the mission. After tours at the LA Mission and Homeboy/Homegirl Enterprises, students had the opportunity to discuss their experience over three rounds of designed discussion and reflection.

The Dialogues and Jesuit Cup are unique events not just because of the service component but also due to the format used for deliberation. Traditional debate formats consist of two sides with both sides taking opposing positions. During these two events the Venn Debate format was introduced which consists of three, three person teams. Teams were given topics ranging from the scope of hunger, to the impacts of homelessness, and the possibilities for solutions. Speakers were invited to take any position they wanted, as long as it was consistent with their teammates, and to distinguish themselves through consensus rather than disagreement.

At the conclusion of the three rounds of the St. Ignatius Dialogues the five highest ranked teams and the ten highest ranked speakers were given awards. First place was awarded to the team from George Washington University with LMU finishing in second. LMU student Faith Nishimura ranked as the third best speaker, while Oliver Gill and Cady Abe finished sixth and seventh, respectively..

The Jesuit Cup was held on Sunday, October 27th in the Hannon Library. The top nine speakers from each school in attendance were assigned to work with individuals who were not from their university. Teams were asked to research, collaborate, and speak on the question, “How can we best eradicate hunger and homelessness in our lifetime?” After a spirited discussion the winning team consisted of students from George Washington, Pepperdine, and Northwest University,

Tournament Director, Thomas Dowd, was overwhelmed with the positive feedback from the tournament. “Students, judges, and coaches were very supportive of the event. I am extremely pleased to see this debate format in action and am proud of the relationships that were built among the participants.”

Next year, the St. Ignatius Dialogues and Jesuit Cup will examine the for profit prison system and the role of education in rehabilitation and reducing recidivism.