The Power of History to Build a Better Future
The history we tell shapes the culture we build. At DePaul, we look to our Vincentian legacy figures to inform our mission and day-to-day work. Central to the Vincentian mission is the commitment to upholding unheard stories and perspectives that may not be found in history books. DePaul’s library is home to special collections and archives that give direct accounts of those advocating for change in our world. From handwritten letters from our Vincentian family members to the work of Sr. Helen Prejean and the Berrigan family to the history of gentrification in Lincoln Park, students have access to first-hand accounts of a wide berth of information. They also have the support of library staff, who are committed to providing students with the guidance they need to feel confident analyzing primary sources.
A Vincentian approach to education equips students with tools to evaluate the context which is so critical to engaging in social justice in our times. As Vincentians, we believe it is not enough simply to learn information. Rather, we take time to reflect on how we can integrate that information into our daily lives. This stems from the Catholic tradition called see-judge-act, which invites us to observe what is going on in the world, analyze the situation, and put a plan in place for social action. In order to build a better future, we must first understand the work of the past. We do this reflective work in community and dialogue with others, whether they be modern-day peers or historical wisdom figures. It calls us to action rooted in a spirit of dignity and love.