“Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving our world. It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the areas in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good.” – Pope Francis, Laudato Si’ 129.
Despite significant progress in recent decades, extreme poverty persists and environmental degradation continues. Far too many lack access to the goods and services that are essential to survive and thrive. Tragically, it is typically those on the margins that find themselves most excluded from the benefits of the market system. At the same time, inequality in income and wealth remains high both within and between countries.
The movements for sustainable development, just resource allocation, and humanistic management practice and policies give us hope that business may be the surest and best hope for addressing the urgent problems of our day. The corporate social responsibility movement has affected businesses of all sizes. Other movements such as the triple bottom line, the Global Reporting Initiative, and the United Nations Global Compact with Business are calling attention to the fact that we cannot continue to do “business as usual.”
Universities and, in particular, undergraduate and graduate business schools play a crucial role in addressing these challenges and building opportunities for positive change. Their responsibility, at a minimum, is to help raise student awareness, to help provide a framework for reflection on the role each student plays in being part of the solution, and to support students and faculty as they develop concrete ways in which they can become part of the solution to these challenging issues.
An Inspirational Paradigm for Jesuit Business Education
Beginning in March 2019, 12 business education leaders met at the invitation of the International Association of Jesuit Universities (IAJU) to consider how Jesuit business education might address the growing challenges to the reigning economic order. The task force members were especially inspired by Pope Francis’s encyclical, “Laudato Si,” and by the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. They listened to the voices of concerned students, to faculty who have taken a lead in reinventing business education and to a host of thought leaders interested in forging a new economic paradigm.
That IAJU Working Group prepared a white paper entitled, “An Inspirational Paradigm for Jesuit Business Education.” which was released in June 2020. It presents the case for a re-examination of how we prepare the next generation of business leaders. It asks us as academic leaders in Jesuit business education globally to inaugurate a conversation within our schools and among the faculty in our Jesuit network and beyond: how can we respond to the global challenges which we and our students will face, challenges that are more evident each day? How can we better prepare our students to lead in the creation of a more inclusive and just world?
The new educational paradigm has a number of elements to make it relevant, effective, and meaningful—and truly Jesuit:
- Re-creating the economics, business, and finance curricula
- Use of the Ignatian pedagogical paradigm.
- A vision of the essential skills needed for this new kind of leadership.
- The role of key stakeholders.
Since the release of the Inspirational Paradigm in June 2020, Jesuit business educators from around the world have worked to change the way we educate future business leaders. For example, the subsequent World Forums of the International Association of Jesuit Business Schools (IAJBS) and annual meetings of Colleagues in Jesuit Business Education (CJBE) have focused on how to pursue the Inspirational Paradigm.
Similarly, the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) Business School Deans Network encouraged the development of materials to assist Jesuit business schools worldwide to align themselves with the Inspirational Paradigm with two rounds of a challenge grant program.
Starting in March, 2023, a third round of funding was launched, with this one being a collaboration between AJCU, IAJBS, and CJBE, and it is anticipated that there will be several more rounds of funding in the next two or three years.
The resulting faculty work from the grants has been posted to the Ignited website (https://www.ignited.global/inspirational-paradigm-jesuit-business-education-0) for dissemination to Jesuit business educators globally.
The original taskforce was re-organized in September, 2022 and will focus on how to support the pursuit of the Inspirational Paradigm across our global Jesuit business school network. It will also look for opportunities to collaborate with others who share our commitment to a re-examination of business education.
LINKS OF INTEREST
Letter from Michael Garanzini, SJ
This IAJU Working Group has prepared the following white paper, entitled “An Inspirational Paradigm for Jesuit Business Education":