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Spring 2018 Stories

Is There a Common Good in Our Common Home? A Summons to Solidarity

Introduction to Spring 2018 explore


By Theresa Ladrigan-Whelpley
Director of Bannan Institutes,
Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education,
Santa Clara University

Is there a common good in our common home?

St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order, expressed a view dating back to Aristotle1 that the common good is linked with a higher order: “The more universal the good is, the more is it divine.”2 Ignatius charged his companions to “help souls,” advancing the common good for the greater glory of God. In our 21stcentury context, how does this understanding of the common good engage the realities of pluralism and a positive valuation of diversity? Whose good is sought (or discounted) in a divinely ordered common good?

Pope Francis, in his encyclical Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, argues that the common good today must be understood as a practice of solidarity: a practice by which we come to know and value the full and innate dignity of every human person and every dimension of the natural world, and seek to share our diverse goods freely with one another for mutual benefit, for the good of all creation. What is the role of Jesuit, Catholic universities in advancing the common good through this summons to solidarity?

Throughout the 2016–2018 academic years, the Bannan Institutes in the Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education at Santa Clara University has convened interdisciplinary faculty research collaboratives, launched a podcast series, and hosted public lectures and roundtable dialogues to advance the common good through a summons to solidarity. Our current issue of explore seeks to further dialogue and action around pressing issues of racial and ethnic justice, economic justice, gender justice, and environmental justice facing our world today by making available the significant work of Bannan Institutes. 

The Common Good and the Work of the Jesuit University

Professor Kristin Heyer of Boston College opens the issue with a framing essay exploring the leavening and dynamic nature of the Catholic intellectual tradition, highlighting the ways in which interdisciplinary engagement around issues central to the common good can develop the tradition and advance mission integration within Jesuit, Catholic higher education today.

Racial and Ethnic Justice and the Common Good

Inspired by the theological implications of the Black Lives Matter movement, Professor Vincent Lloyd of Villanova University invites us to consider how the black natural law tradition unmasks the moral crisis of racism in the American project and refashions prevailing notions of the common good. Next, Bannan Faculty Fellow Professor Brett Solomon of the Child Studies Program at SCU highlights the work of the interdisciplinary faculty collaborative on racial and ethnic justice over the past two years, calling out transformational faculty research as well as University service to embolden the work of the common good.

Economic Justice and the Common Good

Considering the gross inequalities and limited access to power, privilege, and wealth of so many consumers in Silicon Valley and around the world, Professor Nicholas Santos, S.J., of Marquette University proposes the Integrative Justice Model (IJM) as a normative framework for advancing subsidiary, solidarity, and the common good when engaging with economically marginalized communities.

William Sundstrom, professor of economics at SCU and Bannan Faculty Fellow in the Ignatian Center, unpacks contested notions of fairness within claims of economic justice and explores how contributions from the interdisciplinary faculty collaborative on economic justice underscore the significance of context in understandings of the common good.

Gender Justice and the Common Good

Public engagement and discourse around intersex and transgender persons has increased in the past decade, but theological and pastoral developments have remained limited. Dr. Susannah Cornwall of the University of Exeter explores the realities of transgender and intersex persons and invites constructive theological and pastoral responses to advance the common good. Looking together at several specific cases of gender and sexual violence, Professor Sharmila Lodhia of the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at SCU and Bannan Faculty Fellow in the Ignatian Center, reflects on the value of sustained interdisciplinary research and teaching to advance the work of gender justice and the work of the University.

Environmental Justice and the Common Good

There is much at stake in the ecological commons today. Pedro Walpole, S.J., of EcoJesuit urges us to consider the stranglehold economic interests have on the health of our global ecology and to respond with deeper practices of discernment and reconciliation in our commitments and communities. Professor Christopher Bacon of the Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences at SCU and Bannan Faculty Fellow in the Ignatian Center highlights the procedural, distributive, and restorative justice dimensions of environmental justice and explores how university-community partnerships (such as those sponsored by the Bannan Institutes and the Ignatian Center) can serve to advance transformative social change and the common good.

The 2016–2018 Bannan Institute has sought to advance the common good by engaging issues of racial and ethnic justice, economic justice, gender justice, and environmental justice facing our local and global communities. We hope that you will be challenged and engaged in reading this publication as you consider your own response to this summons to solidarity.


THERESA LADRIGAN-WHELPLEY served as the director of Bannan Institutes in the Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education from 2010 to 2018. She is now the vice president for mission integration at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island. Ladrigan-Whelpley received her Ph.D. in Christian spirituality from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley; and M.Div. from Candler School of Theology at Emory University; and B.S.H. in biology, with honors from Villanova University.



  1.  See Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 1094b. Adaptation of Martin Ostwald’s translation (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1962).
  2. Ignatius of Loyola, The Constitutions of the Society of Jesus and Their Contemporary Norms, A Complete English Translation of the Official Latin Texts (Saint Louis: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1996) P. VII, Chap II, n.1.
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