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German Jesuits open social centre in Munich.

The opening ceremony for the Zentrum für Globale Fragen (ZGF), the reconfigured social centre of the German Jesuits in Munich, took place on 21 June 2017 with more than 160 guests from academia, church institutions, private foundations, partner organisations and students. After an introduction into the renewed mission of the centre by its director Michael Schöpf SJ, Prof. Ottmar Edenhofer from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research gave a highly-praised keynote speech on “Three narratives of capitalism – liberty, equality, sustainability”.

The work of the centre will focus specifically on three thematic areas of global justice: environmental sustainability, migration and intercultural issues. While academic reflection will remain the key contribution to the public debate and to the work of the social sector, new links have been formed with grassroots organisations and networks, among them Jesuit Refugee Service, Jesuit Worldwide Learning and Misereor. This should enable the centre more directly to involve those who suffer most from injustice in the formulation of research questions. The new generation of projects are also designed in a way that their results can support more directly processes of change. Many research projects combine in their methodological approach empirical social science research with a philosophical reflection. The work of the new centre is based on the perception that global justice issues today impact people in the global South and the global North on equal terms, and this directly. Through its activities, the new centre aims at building new links in this context.

The “Zentrum für Globale Fragen” researches, among other issues, criteria for successfully teaching values in the context of migration. While current integration courses often focus on a simple adoption of a set of norms by migrants, this research wants to establish criteria for value education as an element of community building. The outcome of the research will serve as an input to the policies pursued by the Bavarian ministry of social affairs that commissioned the study. In addition to this research, the centre runs a series of training workshops for professionals, volunteers and migrants on value education.

Further activities include the preparation of a book publication on environmental ethics; research on intergenerational justice issues in the context of climate change; a series of online courses on environmental education for refugees and marginalised people; and the preparation of a summary study and a conference on post-growth theories and options for action. Partners are as diverse as the Munich Re Foundation, the University of Tasmania and the German Catholic Bishops Conference.

The Zentrum für Globale Fragen succeeds the Institut für Gesellschaftspolitik which had been founded in 1971 as a classical academic platform. It is also attached to the Jesuit faculty of philosophy in Munich. Further information (in German) and detailed contact information can be found on www.hfph.de/zgf

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