Fair Trade and Catholic Higher Education


It is good for people to realize that purchasing is always a moral — and not simply an economic —  act. Hence the consumer has a specific social responsibility, which goes hand-in-hand with the social responsibility of the enterprise. 
   — Pope Benedict  XVI, 
Caritas in Veritate


ACCU works to ensure the dignity of work and a commitment to economic justice by promoting fair trade values, products, and practices. Fair trade seeks to promote greater equity in the international trading system by securing rights, better working conditions, and sustainable practices for often-marginalized producers and workers. The following fair trade principles act as minimum criteria in order to label a product as "fair trade" by organizations such as CRS Fair Trade, Fair Trade Federation, and World Fair Trade Organization. They outline the ways in which this system ensures the dignity of work:

  • Paying a fair wage in the local context
  • Offering employees opportunities for advancement
  • Providing equal employment opportunities for all people, particularly the most disadvantaged
  • Caring for God’s creation by engaging in environmentally sustainable practices
  • Being open to public accountability
  • Building long-term trade relationships
  • Providing healthy and safe working conditions within the local context
  • Providing financial and technical assistance to producers whenever possible
    Adapted from CRS Fair Trade
New For Catholic colleges and universities, fair trade presents an opportunity to respond to the urgent call to promote social justice, the dignity of work, and the wider sharing of resources and development. The Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities has created Fair Trade and Catholic Higher Education, highlighting how ACCU member institutions engage with the fair trade movement.  Fair-Trade-and-CHE-cover
More Campuses Engage with Fair Trade
Marquette Students Start Fair Trade Business
Buena Vida Coffee is a student-run business housed in the Kohler Center for Entrepreneurship at Marquette University. Buena Vida Coffee sells organic and fair trade coffee that has been grown by cooperatives in Honduras, Mexico, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. For every bag of coffee they sell, Buena Vida Coffee provides one meal to a child at Sociedad Amigos de los Niños, an orphanage in Honduras which was started by Sister Maria Rosa Leggol. Learn more by reading a feature in the Milwaukee Catholic Herald from last year.
Additional Fair Trade Resources

Catholic Relief Services Fair Trade

  • Learn more about fair trade as a vehicle to follow the Catholic Social Teaching principles of respecting the dignity of work and caring for the poor.
  • Find a list of CRS partnered fair trade vendors organized by product.
  • Find materials including banner ads, videos, and print materials to spread fair trade values around your campus community.

Additional Organizations and Campaigns

  • Find toolkits, testimonies, and case studies from Fair Trade Campaigns to help your institution complete the five goals to achieving fair trade status.
  • Fair Trade Federation has a searchable directory of vendors who sell only 100% fair trade products available online.
  • Fair Trade America showcases a variety of delicious recipes featuring fair trade goods.
  • Find resources for events and activities sponsored by Fair Trade USA.
  • Visit the Ignatian Solidarity Network for more information about fair trade, links to vendors for the individual consumer, and other helpful resources.

If you would like to share how your campus is involved with fair trade, please contact Lexie Bradley.


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