Summer Scholar: The News of Justice in an Unexpected Land

NEWS UPDATE: Jo Kadlecek’s report on the Honduras seminar is published in the Huffington Post’s religion blog: read the article here. See also her article on Capital Commentary, published by the Center for Public Justice.

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of stories exploring what Gordon professors are up to in between semesters.

Honduras seems an unlikely place for an international gathering of scholars, ministers and community developers sharing ideas and thinking together about how best to pursue justice. But Jo Kadlecek, senior writer, journalist in residence and communication arts adjunct professor, has been invited to cover one such unique seminar June 23-29. Here’s what she said about her assignment:

“Sponsored by an NGO known as the Association for a More Just Society (AJS) in Tegucigalpa, the gathering will be asking some big questions in a setting usually off the radar of most North Americans. The seminar, entitled Justice: Theory Meets Practice in Honduras, includes Yale philosopher/theologian Nicholas Wolterstorff as the keynote speaker, who will give six talks. About 30-40 professors, pastors and practitioners from around the world—China, Brazil, Ecuador, Nigeria, Romania, Cambodia, etc.—will also be presenting talks and projects related to justice themes in their respective contexts.  There will be opportunities to see some of the work of AJS first hand and the impact it’s had on a city with one of the world’s highest rates of violent crime, usually related to poverty and land issues. We’ll also meet with representatives from USAID, NAE, and various other organizations.

The biggest challenge I’ll face as a journalist covering this event will be finding the angle and story that U.S. readers might connect with. Though Wolterstorff’s presence at the seminar will certainly help to shed light on that region of the world as well as the issues people face daily, the competition of a constant news cycle, be it political campaigns, celebrity gossip or global economics, tends to overshadow stories like these, that is, about poverty and land issues in developing countries.  So figuring out how the story matters to the news outlets I’ll be writing for will, I’m sure, be as interesting as the seminar itself. One thing I hope to discover is what these global thinkers most want Americans to know about justice issues in their cultures. Maybe that will get our attention. Stay tuned!”

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