Walsh Students Intern to End World Hunger with Caritas Internationalis


School News

In 2012, the inaugural class of students in Walsh University’s Brother Francis Blouin Global Scholars Program chose world hunger as their cohort theme with the goal to make a difference on a global scale. This summer, that dream was realized.

Three years of study and research on food insecurity and sustainability issues culminated in a senior capstone project in Rome, Italy, where the 15 students interned with Caritas Internationalis, the humanitarian and international development organization of the Vatican. Headquartered in Rome, Caritas is a confederation of 165 Catholic relief, development and social service organizations that operates in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide.

"As the first class of Blouin Scholars, there were no precedents to follow. Looking back at the experience, it’s amazing to see the progression from where we started as freshmen to now," said Walsh senior Andrew Chwalik, marketing major with minors in entrepreneurship, history and government/foreign affairs. "I never imagined that we would have an opportunity to work professionally with an organization like Caritas and share our research on such a global level. Truly Caritas touches the entire world."

Named in honor of Walsh’s third President, Brother Francis Blouin, the Blouin Scholars are a living-learning community designed for students who share a commitment to global service. Each cohort of students spends four years together, utilizing scholarship and service to address a major global issue of their choosing, such as food sustainability or health care.  

The Blouin Global Scholars spent six weeks in Italy and conducted research on behalf of the Caritas Internationalis Food Security study, One Human Family, Food for All Campaign, aimed at ending hunger by 2025. The goal of the study is to help the poorest and most disadvantaged access the resources essential for a dignified life. Operating as a think-tank from Walsh’s Rome Campus in Castel Gandolfo, Italy, the team was led by Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Douglas Palmer and Director of Global Learning Rachel Hosler.

"The Blouin Scholars program reinforces Walsh’s mission to develop students to be leaders in service to others," said Hosler. "Our goal is for each group to lend their talents to solving issues of suffering or injustice worldwide to make a global impact. This group has done that and more. Their research will be shared worldwide and will help to end global suffering associated with issues of hunger."

In preparation for the Caritas campaign launch, the students provided updated overviews on four topics determined to make food inaccessible worldwide:

  • Lack of access to production resources (e.g. fertilizers, seeds, education)
  • Problems in accessing and controlling land
  • Lack of access to food markets
  • Inequality of women in accessing production resources (e.g. inheriting land)

The Scholars also traveled to Parma, Italy, and studied the production of parmigiana cheese and Parma ham. The students attended the Milano Food Expo Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life, which examined human history through the lens of food production. In addition the students visited local farmers and examined how food relates to the Italian culture.

During their tenure at Walsh, the group researched urban farming in Ohio and traveled to Tanzania to explore the state of hunger in a developing nation. Their efforts have produced significant results including the first Ohio Hunger Dialogue hosted by Walsh in 2014, Walsh’s commitment as the first Ohio college to sign the PUSH agreement to prioritize hunger solutions and launching the Walsh Campus Kitchens Project in 2015.

Through programs like the Blouin Global Scholars, Walsh students do not have to choose between changing the world and advancing their career goals. With opportunities offered through Walsh’s global and service learning programs, students are able to extend the University’s mission of service abroad, while developing the communication and leadership skills most in demand by today’s employer.

"If you think of everything that Walsh stands for as a Catholic University, this group did it in those six weeks," said Dr. Palmer. "What really sets Walsh apart is our ability to offer high-impact global experiences, while still providing a small university environment. Can you help the world and advance yourself professionally? The answer is yes. At Walsh University, you can do both."

To learn more about Walsh University’s unique programming, contact the Office of Admissions at (800) 362-9846.