On July 8 – 12, 2018, Rev. Christopher Viscardi, SJ, President pro tem,participated in the inaugural meeting of the International Association of Jesuit Universities (IAJU) in Bilbao, Spain. The conference was held at the University of Deusto and opened with addresses from Spain’s King Felipe VI and the Roman cardinals in charge of the Congregation for Catholic Education and the Pontifical Council for Culture. One day was spent at the Basilica of Loyola, next to the fortress home where St. Ignatius was born and where he experienced his conversion. At Loyola, the Superior General of the Society of Jesus spoke on the opportunities and challenges for Jesuit education in modern time.
Over 300 participants from more than 200 Jesuit universities from each of the six regions – US/Canada, Latin America, Europe, Africa, South Asia and East Asia/Pacific – participated. The newly founded IAJU is meant to be an “association of associations” that connects all regional conferences in order to give a framework for networking, collaboration and sharing perspectives on the mission of Jesuit education. Group sessions focused on one of the six themes: Formation of Ignatian Leaders, Formation of Civic and Political Leaders, Interreligious Dialogue, Economic and Environmental Justice, Education of the Marginalized and Peace and Reconciliation.
At what may be the world’s largest international network of higher education, the new association will share a common vision and pursue a mission dedicated to “Transforming Our World Together” (the conference theme), in partnership with the Society of Jesus.
Todd Waller, Director of Spring Hill College’s Italy Center, and Fr. Viscardi met with the director of the Jesuit Worldwide Learning (JWL) initiative, which has partnered with Regis University and Creighton University to bring online courses led by local mentors to refugee camps and rural areas in Africa and Asia. Since Spring Hill’s Italy Center currently works with the migrant population in Bologna, this is an exploratory opportunity for ways of connecting with JWL.
Visit www.IAJU.org for more information about connecting Jesuit higher educational institutions and regional conferences on an international level.