An initiative from the Jesuit universities and faculties in Europe and the Near East.

Europe and its values – that’s a key theme in recent years. It’s also the theme of a new Jesuit program called “Higher Education for Social Transformation” (HEST). It involves a unique collaboration between the Jesuit higher education institutions across Europe and the Near East and the Jesuit social centres. With this program the institutions aim to help our societies to discover core values, reflect on them in depth, and find ways to incarnate and apply them to make the lives of the poor more humane and just. 

The Steering Committee met for the first time in Brussels on the 18th of November 2016. The aim was to plan how to move forward the 7 programme areas:

  • Ecology and Environmental Challenges
  • Economy, Poverty and Ethics
  • Christian-Muslim Relations
  • Dialogue Science and Religion
  • Ignatian Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Migrations and Refugees

Several experts in these areas working at Jesuit higher education institutions across Europe form each cluster.

Focusing academic research on real social challenges of European Society is the main goal of HEST. Dr. Dominique Lambert, international expert on Dialogue Science and Religion said: “There are already many good existing academic papers on these topics, we need a new perspective to respond to the real needs of the society, that is why the focus on social transformation is key”.

In the meeting, there were 2 representatives from each cluster as well as José Ignacio Garcia, the social delegate of the CEP. He helps to link the academic research done in the universities and faculties with what is happening in the Social Centres.

During the morning, the group listened to presentations from Dani Izuzquiza SJ, representative of the Cultural Reviews network in Europe; José Ignacio García SJ,; as well as two representatives of the European Commission, who gave participants tips on how to advocate in the European Institutions and how they saw the future of Europe.

In the afternoon, cluster representatives were encouraged to start organising the first group meeting These will take place in the first half of 2017.  : “There was an great response from the cluster representatives: said John Dardis, CEP President. All of them came with ideas and the commitment to move things forward”. All the clusters ended up with a date for the meeting, a place to gather their group and several ideas of what the group can offer to help achieve the goal of the program.

One of the experts on the issue of Economics and Poverty summarized his feelings: “with all the bad news we are receiving lately about the future of Europe, like Brexit or the growth of extremist rhetoric in the political scenery, I am grateful to see an initiative like this one take shape, it gives me hope for the future!”

The meeting was hosted by the President of the Conference of European Provincials, Father John Dardis SJ, by the HEST Coordinator, Checa Romero, and the CEP Planning Advisor, Diego Losada.

This post was originally published in https://jesuits.eu/