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Julie Schumacher Cohen

The University of Scranton
Director of Community & Government Relations
Promoting Justice and Reconciliation through Dialogue

Julie Schumacher Cohen, Assistant Vice President for Community Engagement and Government Affairs Teresa Grettano, Associate Professor, Director of First-Year Writing, and Director of The Ellacuría Initiative Jessica Nolan, Professor and Director of Environmental Studies  

In our age of political polarization, Jesuit institutions have a responsibility to foster constructive dialogue on difficult topics among students comprising different viewpoints and backgrounds, developing in students the skills and dispositions necessary to hold productive conversations that honor the dignity of all involved and work toward creating more just institutions and policies. At The University of Scranton, a Political Dialogues Working Group has established a multi-year interdisciplinary, collaborative, and uniquely Ignatian civic engagement initiative to burst political bubbles. The project has involved facilitator training, co-curricular and course-based student dialogues, community-based learning, local and national partnerships, and research activities and outcomes. As a Jesuit institution, the project has been situated in the university’s mission to promote both justice and reconciliation with a focus on creating the conditions for dialogue and in-depth understanding. The poster presentation will highlight the reflective, structured dialogue method of Essential Partners and practices from the Jesuit tradition, research activities and outcomes, and community collaborations.

Julie Schumacher Cohen is Assistant Vice President for Community Engagement and Government Affairs at The University of Scranton. In this role, Julie helps strengthen relationships and form partnerships between the University and the community; she has developed special initiatives in areas of downtown business engagement, refugee solidarity, and civic dialogues across differences drawing on the teachings of St. Ignatius (see: https://www.scranton.edu/alumni/journal/issues/2018/fall/features/political-bubble.shtml). Julie recently served as co-chair of the University’s Middle States Commission on Higher Education Self-Study and Chairs the University’s Community-Based Learning Board to advance academic courses and projects that meet community-defined needs in the Scranton area. Julie has worked for a variety of non-profit organizations in community outreach, faith-based advocacy, cross-cultural exchange and peace building, including previously as Deputy Director of Churches for Middle East Peace in Washington, DC. She serves on various local Boards of Directors in Scranton and has written for the Scranton Times Tribune, the Journal of Ecumenical Studies, America magazine, and the Ignatian Solidarity Network. Julie earned a bachelor’s degree in political studies and English literature from Gordon College and a Master of Public Administration from Villanova University; she is currently pursuing a PhD in Political Science at Temple University.