Rosemary Barbera, Ph.D., ’83
Associate Professor, Social Work
La Salle University
Years at La Salle: 16 years, on and off
Degree/Education: BA in Religion, 1983; MA in Pastoral Theology, 1986; Master of Social Work, Bryn Mawr College, 1996; Ph.D. in Social Work, Bryn Mawr College, 2003
Can you tell me about your human rights work across the U.S. and Latin America?
I have been involved in human rights work since the 1980’s when I began to work in solidarity with Central American refugees fleeing the US-sponsored wars. I participated in the Sanctuary Movement, keeping refugees safe so they would not be deported. I then moved to Bolivia where I worked in poor neighborhoods around access to water and food. And then I moved to Chile where I was an human rights organizer during the military dictatorship. I also participated in the Sebastian Acevedo Movement against Torture and was a co-founder of CAPCI – Pastoral Workers against Impunity. I went to Chile as a Maryknoll Lay Missioner. When I returned to the US I continued solidarity work with Chile in the US and began to work on issues of human rights in the United States with a focus on immigrants and economic human rights. I also continue my human rights work in Chile around issues of the disappeared and with a women’s health group.
How did your path lead you to La Salle?
I began coming to La Salle in elementary school when I would attend Basket Camp with Lefty Ervin and Angie Scarangelli. I then came as an undergrad because I liked the openness of La Salle’s Religion and Theology Department.
How do you view your role as a teacher and what do you hope to instill or inspire in your students?
I consider the educational enterprise to be one of mutual engagement and relationship and I try to approach each and every class session, and out-of-class session, with that frame of reference. I take seriously the philosophy of the earliest Brothers to “be ‘brothers to one another’ in their community, and ‘older brothers’ to the young people whom they saw ‘confided in their care’” (Brother Gerard Rummery as quoted in La Salle University and its Catholic Lasallian Mission, p 26). What I find most rewarding is the opportunity to engage in serious dialogue, discussion, and discourse with students about profound topics that affect our lives as active and responsible members of society. I enjoy being challenged and challenging the students to become better social workers and community members. I also enjoy those “Aha” moments when a student begins to understand a complicated concept, and, most especially, when a student begins to integrate the knowledge into their personal and professional lives.
I strive to challenge students to see the world from different perspectives and to expand their own worldview.
What is your ideal way to spend free time?
I love riding my bike, hiking, reading, and listening to music.
What is a book that has inspired you most?
It is so very difficult to choose just one. There are three that are tie:
Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed
Eduardo Galeano’s Open Veins of Latin America
John Sobrino and Juan Hernández-Pico’s Theology of Christian Solidarity
Who are three people, dead or alive, you would invite to dinner if you knew they would attend?