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 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
Innsbruck’s workshop of dispositionalism. The workshop took place on the 26-27th of Feburary 2018 in the wintry Austrian city of Innsbruck at the Faculty of Theology of the Innsbruck University. The following five members of the Cluster took part in the event: prof. Josef Quitterer from Innsbruck University (the host of the workshop), dr Jacek Poznański SJ from Jesuit University Ignatianum in Cracow (coordinator of the cluster), dr Tobias Müller from Hochschule für Philosophie in München, dr Bruno Nobre SJ from Catholic University of Portugal in Braga, dr Francois Euvé SJ from Centre Sevre in Paris. On the first day some other members joined the workshop by online Skype connection: José Carlos Romero (HEST coordinator) and prof. Sara Lumbreras (coordinator of the cluster), both from Comillas University in Madrid. The meeting began with Checa Romero’s presentation on the developments within the whole HEST project. He informed also about progresses in all other clusters. Then Jacek Poznański presented the outcomes of the Cluster’s survey which subsequently were discussed in details. After the break two papers on powers and dispositionalism were read. First one prepared by Josef Quitterer and the second one by Tobias Müller. Each paper was followed by the discussions. Then, short communications from Bruno Nobre and Francois Euvé were offered. The discussions followed. The first day was rounded by the late evening visit in a Tirolian restaurant made possible by the courtesy of the Faculty of Theology. The next day the workshop started early morning with the remaining short communication by Jacek Poznański. Then the two short texts on powers prepared by prof. Dominique Lambert from Namur University and prof. Joaquin Menacho SJ from Barcelona’s Chemical Institute were read and discussed. All these papers and communications were to disposed the participants to discern how to go forward both in terms of the content of the research project as well as in terms of the way of proceeding for remaining two years of HEST programme. In the last part of the workshop the participants managed to formulate, firstly, the first draft of the content of the possible research topic focusing on levels of powers, and secondly, the possible timeline for the realization of the research plans which includes three bigger gatherings of the Cluster members. In general, the meeting was a time of lively exchange and discussions which were documented by Bruno Nobre SJ, the workshop’s secretary. The two-days event ended with the dinner in the Jesuit College. We all are grateful for the excellent organization effected by Josef Quitterer, the dean of the Theological Faculty. Many thanks go also to the Jesuit community which generously accommodated and fed most of us during these days.
Following the third round of meetings in Madrid, March 1-2, 2018. Across Europe, the Society of Jesus maintains a large network of higher-education institutions and social-policy centres which every day educate tens of thousands of young people and scrutinize untold government proposals and policy initiatives. The HEST initiative (Higher Education for Social Transformation) seeks to mobilise this network of research bodies so as to challenge realities on the ground by advocating for constructive change founded on solid research. Going beyond an expression of our collective social responsibility, HEST is an attempt to put flesh and bones on one of the hallmark slogans of the Jesuit approach to life – that we should be men and women for others. Seven research clusters have been established that seeks to direct this wealth of researching talent towards the issues that are most pressing in Europe today. They are: Ecology and Environmental Challenges Economy, Poverty and Ethics Christian Muslim Relations Dialogue Science and Religion Ignatian Studies Anthropology Migrations and Refugees These clusters, made of experts, analysts and researchers – both “J” and “lay” – from across Europe, are meeting over the period of three years with the intention of providing meaningful and quality research so as to yield real-world advocacy proposals. They also hope to sharpen local recommendations through the pan-European cooperation and to strengthen the Jesuit Identity of Jesuit higher-education institutions. The ambitious, ultimate aim, is that this project would roll for fifteen years, thoroughly transforming the internal self-understanding of Jesuit higher-education institutions and making a concrete difference for the most marginalised in our society. I am a member of the “Economy, Poverty and Ethics” cluster, which seeks to take seriously the commitment made in Decree 1 of the General Congregation 36, that “Global Wealth Inequalities” is one of the issues that Jesuits must pay particular attention to. We met for the third workshop of our group in Madrid in early March. Made up of scholars and experts from Poland, France, Belgium, England, Ireland, and Spain, this group – largely led by economists – are eager to explore below the numbers and examine what is really happening in the European economy. A decade on from the last crash, there is widespread dis-satisfaction with the so-called “recovery”. With this in mind, the group has focused on two critical issues: Models for company-formation Policies to deal with precarious labour The first focus area will draw on Catholic Social Teaching to explore how the legal construction of corporations can place the pursuit of the common good right alongside the pursuit of profit. The second focus area will explore how the response to the economic crash of 2008 has left more and more people on the economic sidelines and how we should seek to address that issue. Europe was struggling with awful weather, so delegates faces snowdrifts and airport delays to make the meetings. Madrid itself was buffeted by storm winds and flooding rains. But every delegate who gathered felt that the trip was more than worthwhile. The contemporary university is geared towards ever more intense specialisation and too often our individual research agendas, directed by abstract government rating-systems, gets disconnected from the real-world problems that we most want to address. HEST represents a different way of researching: inter-disciplinary, grounded in friendship and mutual values, dedicated towards the service of those most in need of help. In this, it is already a remarkable distillation of the finest parts of the Jesuit tradition.
At the pace of the discernment of the group, the third meeting of the Ignatian studies cluster of HEST progressed. We wanted to be faithful to the commitment and to the lights that came up during the last meeting in Brussels last September 2017, i.e. "We have to give as much or more importance to “how” we do things than to “what” we want to do. In this way, this meeting was established as a space of common discernment that would lead us to define the action plan of the cluster. To this end, we met again in Brussels: Carlos Coupeau (Deusto), José García de Castro (Comillas), Philip Endean (Centre Sevres), Mark Rotsaert (Campion Hall), Jad Chebli (Saint Joseph Univeristy Beirut) and José Carlos Romero (JCEP). They were two and a half days of work (from Friday, February 23rd to Sunday 25th) in which little by little, we began to express interests, desires and realities. The first day was a personal day of work with some documents: the minutes and echoes of the last meeting, as well as some other inspirational documents; and concluded with a sharing. On the second day, Saturday, we focused on discussing what should be the group's primary focus. A debate that was greatly enriched by Jad's presentation to us on the situation in Lebanon and the work that the Society of Jesus is doing there especially with refugees. Finally, Sunday was the day to gather the sharing and establish the action plan. The group decided on the topic to explore. It will be the meaning of "Social Transformation" from an Ignatian perspective. To this end, the different members will develop individual contributions that they will share prior to the next face-to-face meeting where they will be discussed and enriched with the contributions of others. Gratefully we ended the meeting by sharing a lunch in the always welcoming community of the JCEP in Brussels. In October, God willing, we will meet again.