"A Common Thread" (2015)

The Link Between Successful Business Practices and Dignified Work


Abbey Santanello '15

Economics and Pre-Health, CST Minor

Advisor: Professor Todd Whitmore


"For my Catholic Social Tradition (CST) Capstone, I intended to study the integration of Economics with CST principles in a way that would not only be relevant to the world but pertinent to the Notre Dame community. Alta Gracia fits the bill perfectly because they are an international collegiate apparel company that is also a Notre Dame client and the current producer of The Shirt.

Abbey Santanello

I proposed to study the Alta Gracia business model through the lens of Catholic Social Tradition principles to discover the common thread, the link between successful business practices and dignified work, and more importantly, the connection between the thread that we wear every football Saturday at Notre Dame and the hands that sewed it in the Dominican Republic.

Over spring break, I visited the Alta Gracia factory where I learned about the apparel manufacturing process and the specific initiatives taken to ensure the safety and security of the employees. I also had the opportunity to converse with two employees in their homes, and they shared their stories of how Alta Gracia has impacted their lives. From giving their children an education to building a concrete home, Alta Gracia's living wage has not only provided its employees with benefits and opportunities, but it has also given them the dignity and respect that they deserve from their work. To link the economic model to Catholic Social Teaching, Rerum Novarum and Laborem Exercens are two papal encyclicals whose principles are manifest in the mission and good work of Alta Gracia."