When we see the many challenges in Europe and the Near East such as Migration, the Polarisation of Political discourse, Poverty, Ecological issues, extreme Islam we ask ourselves: “Surely the Jesuit network can play a part in addressing at least some of these?”. With this in mind, we have designed a programme that aims to mobilise the resources of Jesuit Universities and Faculties across Europe and to link them with our Social centres. It is entitled Higher Education for Social Transformation (HEST). The basic idea is that those engaged in academic research can be challenged by realities in the ground while those advocating for change on the ground can benefit from high quality research. We want to influence decision makers in politics, finance and industry with well-founded arguments and with data based on solid research.

Selected Themes

The vast majority of Jesuit Higher Education institutions got together and they chose the themes that were relevant for both their institutions and for the Society of Jesus. In this bottom-up process, the selected and relevant themes were the following:

1. Ecology and Environmental Challenges

2. Economy, Poverty and Ethics

3. Christian Muslim Relations

4. Dialogue Science and Religion

5. Ignatian Studies

6. Anthropology

7. Migrations and Refugees

Expected goals

Hest aims at the Following three goals

1. Provide meaningful and quality research and design a solid dissemination and advocacy strategy for each cluster

2. Pressure for greater multinational cooperation in reforms/activities that would understand the structural causes of poverty and inequality in the world and promote changes

3. Strengthen the Jesuit Identity of Jesuit Higher Education Institutions

The core group of HEST (Higher Education for Social Transformation) met in Braga, Portugal, between 26-29th of April 2019. Five of us turned up for the meeting in person (Bruno Nobre, Francois Euvé, Ulf Jonsson, Josef Quitterer, Jacek Poznański) and Georg Gasser from Innsbruck joined us on Skype at Saturday’s evening session. We were guests of the Jesuit Community of the scholastics (Jesuits in formation) in Braga. We spend two nice days with them, celebrating masses, eating together and discussing philosophical, theological and everyday questions. Saturday we dedicated to the organizational issues. We started with discussion on our conference which is to take place in Centre Sèvres in Paris, 8th-9th of October 2019. The title of the conference is “A Powerful Universe – Levels of Powers. Dispositions and their applications in Science, Metaphysics, and Theology”. It is the final event of the three years of existence of the Science and Religion Cluster of the HEST Programme. We invited for the conference a number of key scholars on powers and dispositions. We will try to enter in dialogue with them on the important issues concerning metaphysics, anthropology, sciences and God. Francois Euvé informed us about the preparations in Paris, accommodation and other things. Bruno Nobre will take care about the registration issues. We spoke about our guests and the arrangements of the talks. We will design also a website of the conference. The second big issue was the social transformation dimension of our project. Firstly, we would like to get together the scholars from European Jesuit institutions who are interested in science and religion. We want to invite to the conference our colleagues from places like Madrid, Barcelona, Muenchen, Namur, Zagreb, Bratislava, Vatican Observatory. Secondly, we plan to put together the results of our research and conference in an influential publication. We hope to find a renowned publisher house willing to help us in this task. We agreed to continue our cooperation after the finishing the three years period of HEST project. Our proposal is to organize a regular International Science and Religion Seminar for the PhD and MA students. The seminar could use the structures of our universities, and probably we can try to insert this seminar into curricula of our PhD or MA students and provide them with ECTS. We will work a bit more on this proposal and we send this to others for discussion. Sunday, the second day of our seminar, was dedicated to the presentation and discussion of the working papers we had been preparing for the conference. We cleared out our understanding of the concepts and ideas in powers and dispositions, as well as confronted the materials prepared by us with other points of view. We are thankful to the Jesuit community in Braga, and especially Bruno Nobre, for all the great efforts to make our time there as nice and fruitful as possible. We thank also the dean of the Jesuit Faculty of Philosophy and Social Science in Braga for the financial support.
Hest cluster on Ecology. On the 20th and 21st of November, the third HEST ecology cluster in-person meeting took place in Brussels. The two-day meeting was held at the JESC offices and followed the group’s last October webinar, where the main points of the November meeting agenda had been agreed. From the beginning of the meeting, there was an inspiring team spirit and sense of community that provided the group with a great boost of energy and positivity for the following two days. Before the formal discussions, the group shared a nice Paella lunch allowing them to catch up and get ready for the demanding meeting of the evening. JESC After the energizing lunch, the first part of the meeting began with a short presentation on JESC work and mission offered by Fr. Peter Rožič SJ, Director of JESC. José Carlos Romero, the HEST coordinator, presented an update on the HEST program and gave a brief overview on the state of the other six HEST clusters. He highlighted that the steering committee that had taken place the previous day was the most fruitful meeting they have had so far, where coordinators of each group presented what they were doing; their expectations and what they thought was not working. Massive open online course The following part of the meeting revolved around the possibility of elaborating a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on the issue of Sustainability and values. After having considered Pedro Linares’ MOOC proposal and provided feedback, the group committed to collaborate on the creation of this MOOC project. Although the length and the exact content of the MOOC has yet to be defined, the main topic will be Sustainability and values and a special focus will be given to food waste, so that it can be also linked to the Research Project. The MOOC will be an introductory course aimed at the general public. Research project Two other main projects were debated during the meeting: the Research Project and the Living Laudato Si’ initiative. For the Research Project, it was decided that the topic would be food waste and that it is to have an interdisciplinary focus, where not only the scientific point of view will be taken into account but where the philosophical, theological and social aspects will also be considered. Even though this project is still in the preliminary phase, it became apparent from the discussions that cities are the right unit to study for this project. The last part of the discussion focused on the Living Laudato Si’ initiative and on possible ways to spread the different reflections that have come out of the initiative. The debate on the Living Laudato Si’ initiative was followed by an enriching and inspiring collective reflection exercise led by Fr. Edmond Grace SJ. After some concluding remarks by one of the cluster’s coordinator, Andreas Carlgren, the group established the dates for the next four webinars. Next year’s in-person meeting in Beirut was also discussed and as a tentative date, it was decided that the meeting will take place in the middle of November 2019. The next webinar will take place on the 25th of January.
The annual meeting of the Steering Committee of the HEST project on 21 November in Brussels. If last year it was the Universidad Pontificia Comillas that hosted this event, on this occasion the meeting took place in Brussels, specifically in the meeting room of the Ecumenical European Chapel of the Resurrection, a work entrusted to the Society of Jesus in the European capital. The place chosen was not by chance. The Chapel represents this meeting place for Christians of different confessions at the very heart of the political and economic life of the Belgian capital. We are Catholics, but with very different backgrounds, and HEST is for us, in some way, the Chapel of the Resurrection. Franck Janin, president of the Jesuit Conference of European Provincials chaired the session, which was attended by the coordinators of the 7 clusters that make up the project, as well as representatives of other networks that collaborate with HEST, namely, Father Philip Geister for the Kircher network, Father Peter Rozic for JESC and Father Jaime Tatay for the network of European cultural magazines. The meeting began with a moment of shared prayer and an address by Father Janin himself in which he welcomed all those present and invited us to celebrate the meeting and to look to the future of the project with renewed hope. Later, Father Philip Geister took the floor, and made a presentation of the Kircher network, which will become the matrix of the HEST project in the future. Once this introductory round was over, we moved on to the core of the meeting, which consisted of a presentation by the coordinators of the state of their different clusters. It was a long and enriching session in which we could see the magnitude of the work done, as well as the difficulties we have encountered along the way. After a brief shared lunch, we moved on to the afternoon session, during which the results of a survey on the evolution and future of the project were briefly presented, and the coordinators were asked to work on some questions arising from the results of the survey. Finally, the meeting closed with a plenary round where the answers to the previous questions were shared. The coordinators of the project finished the day exhausted but at the same time very satisfied to have been able to verify that HEST is already a fact. The project is underway, bearing fruits and looking to the future with optimism. Now is the time to start designing together what we want HEST to become in the long term.
The HEST cluster on Ignatian studies meets in Brussels for the fourth time. A new meeting of the Ignatian studies cluster of the project took place on October 12 and 13. On this occasion we missed Carlos Coupeau, but we were happy to incorporate Tibor Bartok sj, professor of the Institute of Spirituality at the Gregorian University in Rome. The meeting focused on the presentation of various academic papers by members of the group. Philip Endean brought us a reflection on the evolution of the way of understanding social transformation in the Society of Jesus in the last General Congregations. Jad Chebli told us about the life of Jesuit Nicloas Kluiters, a martyr in Lebanon. His life experience continues to move and inspire. Finally, Fredrik Heiding brought us a reflection on formation for social transformation.  Thus we arrived at the last session of the meeting which we dedicated to thinking about the future of the group. We decided to meet again in the spring of 2019, this time in Rome, to continue sharing academic work related to Social Transformation and to work together on a proposed definition of this concept to help HEST clarify its own mission. José Carlos Romero   Kraków’s seminar on the theme: “A powerful universe – levels of powers”. The Science and Religion HEST Cluster - after a series of preparatory Skype meetings – gathered face to face in the real world. On 6-7th of October 2018 in Cracow (Poland) took place our second working seminar. It was the first of three gatherings of the HEST Cluster on Science and Religion which were planned within the project “A powerful universe – levels of powers” elaborated by the gathering of the Cluster in February 2018 in Innsbruck.  The following members of the Cluster took part in the event: prof. Josef Quitterer from Innsbruck University, dr Jacek Poznański SJ from Jesuit University Ignatianum in Cracow (coordinator of the cluster and the organizer of the seminar), dr Bruno Nobre SJ from Catholic University of Portugal in Braga), prof. dr Ulf Jonsson SJ from Newman Institute in Uppsala in Sweden. Dr Francois Euvé SJ from Centre Sevre in Paris joined the workshop by online Skype connection. Four working papers were read and the outlines of two others were presented. Each paper was followed by the discussions. Many new ideas and fresh insights came out in the debates which were alternated with the coffee breaks. The aims of the seminar were the constitution of the closer scientific collaboration between the members of the Cluster as well as the preparation of the final event: Paris’ conference at the end of 2019. The gathered members of the Cluster shared about the way we had made together so far and about the future perspectives of collaboration and funding. In the reflection on the social transformation dimension of our research we stressed especially the need to make known the Cluster in the wider audience of our home Departments, Institutes and Faculties. We should also facilitate and foster the connections with people with other Jesuit academic institutions who have been doing some research on science and religion issues. The first day was rounded by the late evening visit in a traditional Polish restaurant made possible by the courtesy of the Institute of Philosophy at the Jesuit University Ignatianum. In sum, the meeting was a time of lively exchange and friendly being together. We all are grateful to the community of Cracow’s Jesuit College, which generously accommodated and fed most of us during these days, and to the Dean of the Philosophical Faculty, prof. Tomasz Homa SJ, for the financial support. Jacek Poznański SJ
On October 22nd and 23rd the cluster on Christian-Muslim dialogue of the HEST programme held an encounter in Innsbruck. The theme was “Studying, Teaching and Encountering Islam in Ignatian Contexts”. There were 18 scholars working on Islamic-Christian dialogue coming from Sankt Georgen (Frankfurt), Deusto University, Comillas University, Université Saint Joseph (Beirut), Facultad de Teología de Granada, Saint Thomas Institute (Moscow), Collegium Bobolanum Warsaw, PISAI (Rome), Universidad Loyola Andalucía and Innsbruck Faculty of Theology. There was also a Jesuit from the German Province working directly with Muslim migrants in the social apostolate. The meeting was coordinated by Michaela Quast-Neulinger (Innsbruck Faculty of Theology), Tobias Specker SJ (Sankt Georgen) and Gonzalo Villagrán SJ (Granada Faculty of Theology) The meeting began with a talk by Philip Endean SJ on Ignatian spirituality and its historical contact with Islam. the Muslim Scholar Adnane Mokrani gave a reply. In the afternoon, Felix Körner SJ, from the Gregorian University, gave a lecture on Ignatian criteria for dialogue with Islam. At the end of each session, Teresa Peter, a professor of practical theology working on interreligious dialogue in Innsbruck, gave us a sense of the group’s progress. The second day we shared the different projects and initiatives being carrying out in each institution and we took some time to reflect together on the development of the group. At the end of the meeting we felt quite satisfied with the quality of the reflection and the deep links that are being built among the members of the cluster. After finishing our meeting we could feel how we had taken important steps towards a more effective networking in the intellectual apostolate and of dialogue with Islam at the service of the mission.
From the JCEP we are delighted to announce the HEST project website is now up and running. As many of you already know, the Higher Education for Social Transformation (HEST) is a programme promoted by the JCEP (the Jesuit Conference of European Provincials). It is envisioned as a fifteen-year, pan-continental, cross-disciplinary endeavor. The goal is to produce meaningful and quality research on 7 concrete topics that can be communicated to a range of audiences so as to promote progressive advocacy in each area. The objectives of the HEST website are: - To provide information on the general objectives of the programme, the 7 clusters, the people and the institutions participating. - To inform all interested parties about the activities of the different clusters through the news section. - To serve as a meeting point for researchers, who have at their service an intranet where they can share documents related to the research in each area. At the same time, the calendar of activities of the 7 networks is always accessible. We encourage all interested parties to enter the website and to participate: we will be happy to receive questions, advices, complaints,..., everything will be very well received! José Carlos Romero HEST Coordinator