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Fair Trade Week Brings Fun, Flavors and Flair to Duquesne Campus

Whether sipping a large latte, putting on a designer blouse or peeling a banana for breakfast, consider the South American farmer who toiled in the coffee fields, the Asian woman who sewed the buttons on the blouse and the Filipino child who harvested the bananas.

Duquesne University faculty, staff and students will participate in Fair Trade Week, an annual event sponsored by Spiritan Campus Ministry in collaboration with Catholic Relief Services and campus partners, from Monday, Nov. 28, through Thursday, Dec. 1. This year, Spiritan Campus Ministry received a Market Place Grant from Catholic Relief Services to expand Fair Trade Week and awareness on campus throughout the year.

The series of events during the week support the fair buying and selling of goods including coffee, tea, chocolate, sugar, bananas, clothing, jewelry and other items typically produced by the poor in developing countries.

“At its heart, fair trade is about building respectful, enduring relationships,” said Kate Lecci, campus minister. “Fair trade relates to principles of Catholic Social Teaching and our mission here at Duquesne.”

Concern for the poor and marginalized was the primary inspiration for the founding of Duquesne, and the University community continues to serve God by serving others through community engagement projects that focus on the common good, the dignity of all people and being responsible stewards of God’s creation.

There are several accounts of when and how the concept of fair trade began, but the movement that aims to pay fair wages, promote environmentally sustainable practices, provide safe and healthy working conditions, and improve the lives and communities of producers, traces its roots to the 1950s.

Since then, fair trade has grown into a global effort and labeling initiative with businesses including Starbucks, Ten Thousand Villages and Ben and Jerry’s supporting fair trade practices. A number of fair trade products are available at local grocery and specialty stores, but one of the most widespread and well-known fair trade items is coffee.

Matt Walsh, assistant director of Spiritan Campus Ministry, said Fair Trade Week aims to build awareness, understanding and support of fair trade issues. “We have organized simple and fun events that students, faculty and staff can take advantage of to support fair trade,” Walsh said. “Whether you purchase a fair trade item at the marketplace, sample fair trade coffee or chocolate, attend the fashion show or lunch and learn, there are many ways to get involved in the effort.”

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic research universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. The University is nationally ranked by U.S. News and World Report and the Princeton Review for its rich academic programs in nine schools of study for nearly 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students, and by the Washington Monthly for service and contributing to students' social mobility. Duquesne is a member of the U.S. President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction for its contributions to Pittsburgh and communities around the globe. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Princeton Review's Guide to Green Colleges acknowledge Duquesne's commitment to sustainability.