Father Robert "Bud" Grant, '80 Social justice, theology professor Father Robert “Bud” Grant tells his students, begins with one’s own actions. He prompts students to “recognize that we have created conditions of injustice, sometimes blatantly, sometimes inadvertently, or with the best of intentions, and we have to untangle those structures that perpetuate injustice,” he says. “It’s a necessary part of our Catholic/Christian identity.”
Through the years Father Bud has helped students put their growing awareness of social justice into action. Recently, his Environmental Ethics class produced a document that they hope Iowa’s colleges and universities will use to grade their success as green campuses.
And many times, the change is individual. Seven years ago Father Bud took a group of students to do a project at Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. During that visit, then-student Matt Ehlman told him, “Bud, I belong here.” Since then the 2002 Ambrose graduate has served as vice president for advancement at the reservation’s Red Cloud Indian School.
As for Father Bud, who is known for forging life-long friendships with graduates such as Matt, being able to open students’ eyes to the capabilities within themselves is, fittingly, reward enough. “I meet every freshman and their parents, and I tell them, ‘Your lives will be enriched to the extent that you enrich the lives of others.’ Try doing the right thing—not to achieve a goal, but simply because it’s right—and you’ll discover you’ve lived a very rich, full, and happy life.”
The roots of social justice run deep at Ambrose, from the Civil Rights movement to anti-war ferment during the Vietnam War. Nowadays, groups like Ambrose Women for Social Justice and annual conferences hosted by the School of Social Work sustain our peace and justice initiatives—shaping the character of education at Ambrose, and influencing the quality of education for students of all ages in degree and non-degree programs.