The impact of Fair Trade has reached the far corners of the globe and has now made its way to Seton Hill University (SHU).
Jennifer Jones, assistant professor of communication at SHU, meets with her class every Monday, Wednesday and Friday to discuss Fair Trade and its benefits, and how Seton Hill can start supporting Fair Trade.
“Fair Trade is a trading partnership based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equality within initial trade, developing where everyone has better conditions and rights,” explained Brittany Grimm, a communication major.
The mission of Fair Trade is to enable sustainable development and community empowerment by cultivating a more equitable global trade model that benefits farmers, workers, consumers, industry and the earth.
“Students are utilizing the book “Fair Trade: A Beginners Guide”, so that we can all learn about the principles, practices and the histories of Fair Trade,” said Jones. “The students are working in pairs and groups of three to do presentations of each chapter in the book.”
Fair Trade focuses on the concerns of both people and the planet. This process allows for more income during cultivation and production, which leads to better opportunities and conditions for workers.
“There’s a difference between minimum wage and a living wage,” said Jones.
Many of the funds produced by Fair Trade lead to social, economic and environmental development projects in impoverished countries.
“Combatting sexual violence is also now an aspect of Fair Trade,” said Jones.
Disadvantaged groups such as women and ethnic minorities are made partners in the international Fair Trade supply network.
Here at Seton Hill, the food service is slowly making the switch to Fair Trade products, including the coffee and tea in the dining hall.
“Seton Hill’s mission and values go hand in hand with Fair Trade because both provide a positive impact for the less fortunate,” said Jake Bringe, a communication major. “Fair Trade gives the workers that produce the products we enjoy every day fair wages and healthy working environments.”
“Seton Hill wants to instill in its students the mindset of community, and with Fair Trade we can help the community simply by purchasing products,” said Bringe. “Fair Trade is easy to get involved in and a lot of trending brands are getting involved, which will encourage students to join the movement.”
Popular companies such as Ben & Jerry’s and Starbucks support Fair Trade.
“As a resident of Greensburg I have seen how Seton Hill has changed and influenced the community in a positive way,” said Bringe. “I feel that Seton Hill could bring Fair Trade to Greensburg as well.”
“Media, PA was the first Fair Trade town in the United States,” said Bringe. “The community of Media has seen a revival and the town is more successful than ever. Greensburg can benefit in a similar way as Media while supporting a good good cause.”
Dr. Jones and the students of the Fair Trade class will be serving Fair Trade products during the Thanksgiving dinner on Nov. 9 from 4:30 to 7:00 p.m.
For more information on Fair Trade and what other locations sell Fair Trade products, visit http://fairtradeusa.org.