Jesuit Higher Education: Galvanizing Collaboration



Over 200 leaders from Jesuit colleges and universities across the global are gathering in Melbourne, Australia, this week for a conference entitled, “Expanding the Jesuit Higher Education Network: Collaborations for Social Justice.”  ISN has invited a number of attendees to offer reflections on the sessions and discussions taking place during the gathering.

In the 2010 meeting of Jesuit College and University Presidents, the Father General Adolfo Nicholas called for international collaborations among the 175 Jesuit colleges and universities to leverage resources and attend to people at the margins. The third and last day of the 2015 Melbourne conference of worldwide Jesuit College and University Presidents, started the day with a focus on exploring future International Jesuit Collaborations. Morning highlights included:

The Ignatian Spirituality Project – This proposed project is designed to develop new scholars in Ignatian Spirituality, Ignatian Studies and the History of the Society of Jesus to fill a developing void in this area of scholarship. The collaboration would require Jesuit institutions world-wide to share and make available the best resources we have in the Society so that individual colleges and universities could use these resources to develop and deliver their own degrees in Ignatian Spirituality.

Jesuit Digital Network – This new shared platform will act as a library and repository for easy access to shared materials, on a global level. JDN has state-of-the-art capabilities providing important options like searching for materials, tracking the usage of materials, building user groups and platforms for collaborations and discussions to occur, and it could even deliver courses. We are all encouraged to post our teaching, research, and other academic resource materials on JDN.

Jesuit Higher Education at the Frontier – 9 exciting higher education projects in Africa were presented. There are 1,700 Jesuits in Africa, and 650 of them are still in formation, so this is a very young group of Jesuits. The exciting projects in Africa are looking to first world country colleges and Universities for support as they grow and develop.

Global Jesuit Case Series – Business Schools teach their materials primarily through the use of case studies. This new case study series which is just beginning to be developed, highlights alumni of Jesuit Business Schools who have gone on to do extraordinary things with their careers, that are both socially and environmentally responsible. If alumni like this from all of the Jesuit Business Schools tell their stories then turn them into case studies, they can be published in this series and used in Jesuit B-Schools around the world as a new way of training Jesuit Business School students.

The Jesuit Secondary Education Directorate is proposing an online Master’s Degree program to help teachers to understand the tradition of Jesuit Education. In English, Spanish and French, the Dean of the School of Education at Loyola University Chicago will host this online program to start, and partners in other countries are being sought in order to offer this program in context of their own countries and cultures.

In the afternoon, participants divided into 6 groups representing the 6 regions of the world, and all participants attended the break-out group from their home region. In the regional meetings, participants were asked to address two questions: 1) Are there collaborations which we should advance and promote within our region? and, 2) Are there recommendations for action at the level of the Society (i.e. recommendations for the Secretary for Higher Education)? Upon return to the General Assembly, all 6 regions reported on their discussions and many themes emerged that were summarized by Fr. Michael Garanzini at the end of the day. These themes included:

  • We need to commit resources to strengthen the Secretary of Higher Education office to help facilitate the collaborations discussed below;
  • The Presidents have shown favorable interest in adopting Healing Earth as a textbook written in the Ignatian Pedagogy style, to help address the issues of the environment;
  • Migration and abuse of these vulnerable people need to be addressed by the Society;
  • We need to expand our access to higher education at the margins;
  • We need to focus on economic inequality and injustice – there is a paper being developed on this presently;
  • There are opportunities for collaborative research on a global level that should be explored;
  • The next meeting of the Presidents should be in 3 years rather than 5 in order to keep the momentum going;
  • The Strategic Plan for the Jesuit Higher Education Directorate should be presented and discussed at the next General Congregation;
  • Use the Jesuit Digital Network to upload your academic resources;
  • Things that we did not talk about, but need to discuss:
    • What is our role in, and response to China?
    • How can we further inter-religious dialogue? How do we respond to extremism?

The 3 day meeting closed with a beautiful mass in Spanish, and a banquet. Participants overwhelmingly felt the meeting was very productive and successful, as it helped to galvanize the priorities for collaboration and leveraging the resources of the Society’s Directorate of Higher Education.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *