Santa Clara University

Santa Clara Magazine

Shaping the future: Working Groups

Ecology and sustainability

The working groups recognized four fundamental axioms:

  • Creation is a gift from God that is being wounded by human actions;
  • We have a common responsibility for the welfare of the entire world;
  • We have an ethical obligation to learn with the poor, who are most affected by environmental degradation;
  • We must respond to the needs of the present without compromising the lives of future generations.

Through teaching, research, advocacy, and action, the groups hope the International Jesuit Higher Education network will:

  • Encourage development of curricula that address sustainability issues and teach a certain level of environmental literacy;
  • Increase research on such things as the relationships among ecology, environmental justice, poverty, migration, deforestation, and the loss of biodiversity; and
  • Create a collaborative action project and an assessment tool to measure each institution's progress in sustainability.

Ron Hansen M.A. '95

 

Human rights and civic responsibility

Jesuit institutions of higher learning are ideally suited for hosting a consortium of human rights practitioners and Jesuit apostolic partners from universities, the Jesuit Refugee Service, and groups in regular contact with the Social Justice and Ecology secretariat in Rome. To be better educators for justice and more effective actors countering injustice, the working groups proposed:

  • A foundational document on human rights able to be adopted by all Jesuit institutions, drawing on the statements about justice, peace, and human rights in recent General Congregations of the Society of Jesus;
  • A continuing and rigorous self-examination by Jesuit universities regarding their just structures and investment practices;
  • An equal participation of women in governance;
  • A closer linkage with human rights organizations;
  • Curricular exposure for all students to human rights and peace issues, including as far as possible Catholic social teaching; and
  • A distinctively Ignatian and academic promotion of a culture of peace in which rights might flourish.
  • Ron Hansen M.A. '95

 

Markets, inequality, and poverty

Recognizing the transcendent dignity of the human person and the requirement to alleviate poverty and foster a more equitable society, some practical steps were promoted:

  • Help the poor improve the quality of their services and products to meet international standards and help them find sustainable markets globally so they earn higher returns for their labor;
  • Organize local self-help groups and cooperatives to instill in the poor the habit of thrift and increase their collective creditworthiness;
  • Focus on some segment among the growing service sectors, and empower the youth among the poor to capitalize on emerging opportunities;
  • Introduce organic farming, food processing, packing, and marketing; and
  • Where there is a great demand in affluent countries, train youths and find employment for them in skilled physical labor like driving, plumbing, and care of children, the elderly, and ill.

Ron Hansen M.A. '95

 

Theology, science, and culture

Culture is a set of values, attitudes, and behaviors that give us something in common with a definable group of others. Science seeks to elucidate and appreciate the complexity of our world and the laws governing material creation. Theology seeks, among other things, to understand and appreciate the Creator and the significance of created reality for human happiness and our ultimate destiny. Each can benefit from the insights of the other, and also challenge each other. Of particular interest for global institutions of Jesuit higher education in some cultures are the powerful influences of science, technology, and religion upon belief, resulting in new challenges such as atheism, secularism, and fundamentalism. In Mexico City, an international think tank dedicated to analyzing and evaluating “culture” was proposed. Regional consultations uniting similar cultural legacies would follow, and then Jesuit institutions would respond to the cultural analysis and evaluation with factual, imaginative, analytical, and experiential learning.

Ron Hansen M.A. '95