Powering Social Justice with the Jesuit Network
When presidents and leaders of Jesuit higher-education institutions from around the world gathered in Mexico City in April 2010, Superior General Adolfo Nicolás called upon Jesuit institutions to be instruments of social justice and to realize the potential of a unique, global network. In July 2015 – less than a month after Pope Francis issued his encyclical Laudato Si calling for an “integral ecology” that serves the poor and protects the planet – presidents and leaders gathered in Melbourne where they witnessed the power of a Jesuit higher-education network.
Three illustrations of this power resonated particularly strongly with me and with the mission of Santa Clara.
Healing Earth is an online environmental science textbook that integrates current scientific knowledge on climate change with ethical analysis and spiritual reflection and makes a call to action. Developed at Loyola University Chicago, it exemplifies the Pope’s notion of integral ecology and embodies the moral call to action in the face of climate change.
Nowhere is education more challenging or needed than in refugee camps.
The United Nations projects that both sudden and slow impacts of climate change will increase the number of refugees, which is already at an all-time high of 22 million globally. Nowhere is education more challenging or needed than in refugee camps. Jesuit Commons Higher Education at the Margins harnesses the power of the Jesuit network of higher-education institutions to provide tertiary education to refugees in countries such as Afghanistan, Chad, Malawi, and Syria.
Even with education, however, the poor – who will be most affected by climate change – need livelihoods. As Pope Francis mentions in Laudato Si, “Helping the poor financially must always be a provisional solution in the face of pressing needs. The broader objective should always be to allow them a dignified life through work.”
By sharing best practices and exporting the proven GSBI Methodology, we help other Jesuit universities work with local entrepreneurs to provide education, jobs, and build resilience to the impacts of climate change.
Now working with more than 25 institutions, the GSBI Network initiative of the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship was the third illustration of the uniqueness and power of global Jesuit institutions of higher education. By sharing best practices and exporting the proven GSBI Methodology, we help other Jesuit universities work with local entrepreneurs to provide education, jobs, and build resilience to the impacts of climate change. The GSBI Network allows us to scale our impact: Instead of training tens of social entrepreneurs per year, the Network can train hundreds.