Wednesday, October 10, 2007

commitment to justice and Jesuit higher education

Father Locatelli spoke of the idea of the “commitment to justice and Jesuit higher education,” and the common mission of the Jesuits to ensure justice in a globalizing world. Father Locatelli, president of Santa Clara University, has discussed many different programs to help solve problems like poverty and injustice. The aim of these programs is to help change the worldview on poverty. Locatelli has been appointed Secretary for Higher Education by the Superior General for the Society of Jesuits, Father Kolvenbach. Locatelli called us not only to recognize poverty as a part of society, but rather that we must to walk with the impoverished and help install necessary programs designed to improve their lives.
“My great fear is our lost opportunity for learning to live as people of solidarity, as the United States policies turn more toward isolationism, a divisive war, and homeland fears,” Locatelli claimed. Therefore, we are called to look to Kolvenbach, and his ideas for achieving social justice. In Kolvenbach’s essay, “Commitment to Justice in Higher Jesuit Education,” he challenges Jesuit institutions to make educating for social justice an essential part of their mission. An example is the trip organized to El Salvador during the spring semester of the academic year. The El Salvador service excursion is created with hope to change the worldview on poverty, through the process of observing it first-hand. The main focus of a service learning based education is the transformation of the individual as a whole. Through experiences such as trips to impoverished countries like El Salvador, emotions are triggered in individuals to share the universal desire to better the world.
Globalization is a new and harsh reality which calls for experienced educational techniques, faculty, as well as students. Locatelli therefore, proclaims that faith must be integrated with justice. A classic experience which called for this type of integration was the universal impact that Hurricane Katrina had on society, and poverty came in mass amounts as a result of the destruction. Many Catholic affiliated organizations created relief forces to help those who were affected by Katrina, and aimed to aid in the elimination of the destructive effects that the hurricane caused.
Father Locatelli reminded us of the importance to recognize the harsh realities of the world, rather than to merely seek cultural enrichment. He calls students of Jesuit institutions to not only become aware of the great differences between the rich and the poor, but to become acquainted first-hand with injustice and poverty at its worst. Jesuit institutions are called to seek to develop students, faculty, and staff members that will put an honest attempt towards the recognition of globalization. However, this process requires much more than the installment of social programs which aim to help the economic statuses of the impoverished, and have no actual contact with the poor themselves. Father Localtelli then reminds us that the impoverished must have an actual say in the initiation of these service organizations and programs, in order for success to be achieved.
Locatelli suggests that we attempt to fashion a more humane and sustainable world, and in return intend to eliminate the massive amounts of injustice and poverty present. Kolvenbach suggests that there is a multitude of ways that we can aim to sustain such a vision of the world, through the following processes: the use of knowledge to overcome poverty and inequality, the use of technology and science to include all people and as a result eliminate opposition, the uniting of religion and cultural religions, and developing the whole sense of the culture of life. Locatelli suggests that economic stability and global warming must also be a part of the basis of education as a whole, because it is through education that we can organize ways to eliminate and prevent social injustice in future generations.

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