Human Geography is described as the study of the interrelationships between people, places, and environments. Migration has become a central study in human geography coursework because it tracks internal and external movement when migrants are dislodged from homes either by both push and pull factors. Human geography shares a symbiosis with moral education. Yet, human geography texts omit moral dimensions: the social injustices surrounding migration and the stories migrants bring with them to unfamiliar new places. The increase of refugees fleeing their own countries constitutes a major challenge. Undergraduates who take human geography might easily overlook the moral dimensions of this crisis and never hear first-hand refugee accounts. This proposal details how two undergraduate professors reconceptualize a social science curriculum using two interdisciplinary fields-human geography with moral education. Our reconceptualization appeals to three theoretical frameworks: Rockhurst University’s School of Education Conceptual Framework (2021), the recent Jesuit Universal Apostolic Preferences (2019), and the ongoing work of Dudziak and Profitt (2011). Our work has been gradual and ongoing—moving an undergraduate core course from an adherence to textbook learning and introducing a project-based learning model as a semester-long social justice project. Throughout any semester, student groups track different developing countries through press releases and salient themes (epidemiology, migration, ethnicity, religion, politics, agriculture, urbanization). After coursework, we connect undergraduates to meet refugees as a final educative process. We do this by networking with non-profit organizations that resettle refugees. Reflection time is built into the curriculum for deeper moral reasoning about refugees and their particular stories. Students who connect with refugees offsite demonstrate a changed understanding and a change of heart—what we call a metanoia. This learning process brings together a conceptualization with a lived reality about refugees in their own neighborhood. Our hope is, ultimately, a conscientization, a moral education in human geography about migration that considers not only the facts, but also the whole person.
Brian Frain, S.J. is assistant professor in the School of Education, and director of the Thomas More Center for Catholic Thought and Culture at Rockhurst University, Kansas City, MO. Frain’s research focuses on adolescent spiritual development and 21st century global religious education models. Having taught secondary social sciences and theology for a number of years, Frain continues to deepen his dissertation work, tracking the experiences of non-Catholic adolescents who attend Jesuit and Catholic high schools. Frain’s interest is in social studies curriculum and human development. In addition to his university responsibilities, he serves on the editorial board for Studies in Spirituality of Jesuits. Frain received his EdD from the University of Rochester in 2015, where he studied teaching and curriculum. Prior to coming to Rockhurst University, Frain was Jesuit Fellow at Saint Joseph’s University and Director of the Academic Director for the Professional Studies Program in Philadelphia, PA. In his free time, Frain is an Irish dance instructor in Mission, KS and enjoys his priestly ministry on Rockhurst’s campus.
Hilary Logan, Ph.D. is an associate professor in the Rockhurst School of Education. She completed her master’s and doctorate in curriculum and instruction at the University of Kansas and served as both as a graduate research and teaching assistant. After completing her doctorate, she worked as a project coordinator for the Kansas University Institute for Educational Research and Public Service in the areas of early childhood systems-building, accountability and evaluation, as well as community-based child abuse and neglect prevention. She currently researches and teaches in the areas of social studies methods, children’s literature, and language arts. Her research has been featured in Infactis Pax: The Journal for Peace Education and Social Justice, Kansas Child Magazine, the International Society for the Social Studies, the National Council for the Social Studies, the Academy for Educational Studies, the International Fatherhood Conference, Kansas’ Annual Governor’s Conference for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, as well as the McMeel Faculty Institute for Service-Learning. Logan is passionate about developing mission-driven classroom teachers who are committed to their students and create learning environments that foster academic excellence and educational innovation.