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

Jesuit European and Near East Higher Education Meeting takes place at Centre Sèvres, Paris Are the challenges of our institutions and societies distinct one from the other depending on our context? Or are there common sets of challenges that we all need to face together? These two statements are non-mutually exclusive, so an affirmative answer could be given to both questions. However, the balance between them in different times in history is relevant. In the last century, the first statement (independent challenges depending on the context) had by far much more weight and thus it took more space in our minds and on the time we dedicated to address these local challenges, as individuals and as institutions. In this 21st century, the global challenges have gained far more importance and this calls us to review the way we do things. Traditional ways of governing our institutions seem to become each year more and more obsolete. An excellent metaphor for this is presented in a documentary called “In the Same Boat” released in February 2016. In this documentary the experts interviewed share the idea that every human being is currently travelling in the same boat and that we need to coordinate ourselves better to redirect it to go wherever we consider it needs to go. Imagine if someone wants to row in one direction and the other person on another direction. Neither one nor the other will ever reach their destination. We need to understand this dynamic and most importantly we need to agree on where we want to go, the final destination. This was one of the key underlying messages during the recent Jesuit European and Near East Higher Education meeting that took place at Centre Sèvres, Paris from the 9th to the 12th of July 2017. The participants of this meeting were Rectors, deans and people involved in the intellectual apostolate coming from institutions with and ignatian background. There were many highlights from the meeting, starting with the excellent inputs of Madame Sylvie Goulard (Member of the European Parliament) and Sébastien Maillard (from the Croix and the Institute Jacques Delors). These two experts gave an interesting look at the current context we are living in and the challenges we face and what Jesuit institutions can do to address these challenges. This is a very ignatian approach, starting by looking at the reality. Participants also had the opportunity to hear Father Michael Garanzini SJ (Secretary for Higher Education of the Society of Jesus), Father Friedrich Bechina (undersecretary for the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education), Susana di Trolio the Executive Secretary of AUSJAL and Jaime Oraa the president of UNIJES. These four people were responding and giving information to participants about the previous call from Father General to the Universities and Faculties of the Society of Jesus in Europe and the Near East. Father General sent a video to the participants asking them to consider new ways of collaboration and to do that he asked them to reflect on a possible structure for the Higher Education institutions in Europe and the Near East. We are talking about institutional conversion, words used by Father General in his first letter to the whole Society, to reviewing our modes of organization and to examine our institutions. He also reminds us the words of GC36, the governance of the Society is personal, spiritual, and apostolic (GC36 D2,1) From here the participants started working. Many good ideas came to light, which included the risks, and challenges, and benefits that a new structure and way of collaboration might entail. At the end, the participants decided to name a Steering Committee to look into it with more detail and to take into consideration all that was said during the meeting and come with a more concrete proposal in the Worldwide Meeting in Deusto 2018. The cherry on top of the cake was the presentation of the HEST programme by its coordinator José Carlos Romero. This links to our initial point made earlier about being on the same boat. The Higher Education for Social Transformation Programme tries to put institutions in touch and encourage them to work together to reflect on the shared challenges of our societies and to offer sound research and creative ideas to promote changes that will make ours a better world for those who suffer the most. The journey is long but in this meeting good progress was made and the reached agreements will allow our Ignatian boat to reach a safe harbour, our next stop towards our common mission.
The HEST Anthropology Cluster meets at Centre Sèvres to reflect on big questions of our societies. “What human being for the XXI Century?” A big question without an obvious answer! A group of anthropologist experts from several Jesuit European Institutions have decided to work together to do just that, namely, find an answer to this big question. This collaboration is part of the Higher Education for Social Transformation Programme (HEST). Anthropology experts from 4 Jesuit higher education institutions gathered at Centre Sèvres on the 31st of March to find suitable topics that would allow them together and with a focus on what can really make a change in our societies and unite us better as Jesuit institutions. Anthropologists have a difficult task nowadays. We are undergoing so many changes individually and as a society that it is hard to keep track of what it really means to be a human being. Just some weeks ago we were hearing about how Elon Musk wants to connect the human brain to Artificial Intelligence, what are the consequences of that? We have also seen how populist movements have grown around the world by inserting fear in our societies that together with ignorance brings out the hate in us. How can we revert this to move from hate to the solidarity in which the European Union was originally founded? The problem of evil came out again as a question that continues to worry experts and individuals, is evil inherent in the human person? What response can we give as a religious institution that aims to liberate people? Some might argue that we need anthropologists more than ever nowadays but even if there have been times when they were more needed, everyone can agree that in our current world, they are needed to give perspective and depth to these questions we aforementioned and many more that have yet not been answered as a society. That is why this group of experts is knocking on our doors with big questions that are relevant for not only the Society of Jesus but to every human person in this planet. “We need to reach the young population”, said Laura Rizzerio from l’Université de Namur “They are out there, with our same questions, we just need to find the right dissemination strategy to get to them”. The question “What Human Being for the XXI Century” is, as we were saying quite big. The grout of experts decided to start approaching the topic from different perspectives, concretely: Transhumanism and Naturalism Vulnerability Solidarity (from the European perspective) Spirituality The French Province and Centre Sèvres received the group amazingly well. The current Rector, Father François Boëdec SJ made an introductory speech that set the right tone for the rest of the meeting and reminded us the goal of HEST, to bring about change. Centre Sèvres is also undergoing interesting changes these days with the succession of Father Boëdec by Father Etienne Grieu SJ (see article). We will be sharing the development of this cluster during the next months. There is a lot to do but there is passion around this transversal topic that touches more than we might imagine!
The third cluster meeting of the HEST Program. The third cluster meeting of the HEST programme began with a meeting in the General Curia of the Society of Jesus of Rome, presided over by John Dardis SJ, president of the Conference of European Provincials SJ, and coordinated by José Carlos Romero, coordinator of HEST. 7 people participated in the meeting: John Daris sj (CEP – HEST leader) Philip Endean sj (Centre Sévres - Paris) Carlos Coupeau (Deusto - Bilbao) Quique Sanz sj (Comillas Pontifical University - Madrid) Mark Rotsaert sj (Gregorian Pontifical University - Rome) Fredrik Heiding sj (Newman Institute - Uppsala) José Carlos Romero (CEP - HEST Coordinator) The work of the group focused on issues such as (1) the need to clarify the relationship of Ignatian studies and social transformation; (2) The contribution of European Jesuit centers to Ignatian studies and spirituality, and (3) the question of how to transmit this contribution, or the importance of finding good candidates for Ignatian studies in the future. After the meeting, three areas were suggested for the future work of our cluster: a) To create a steering group to organize an Ignatian seminar in themes such as: (1) Populism Today and Underlying Causes and the Contribution of Ignatian Spirituality; (2) Restructuring provinces or (3) Communal discernment. b) To re-think the issue of passing on the Ignatian heritage through, for instante, (1) Running seminars internationally; (2) or Joining together in an international way to run the immersion programme already taking place in Manresa. c) To open a new era of collaboration of our Faculty in Europe on the issue of spirituality.  This is not so easy, given the language differences, but it is something I think should happen.  Eventually, we committed ourselves to meet again in the coming months (probably in July in Paris, during the Meeting of the Rectors and Deans) to continue the work begun in Rome and to decide the way forward for the next three years.
The second cluster meeting of the HEST Program. The second cluster meeting of the HEST programme (Higher Education for Social Transformation) took place on February 24, at Comillas Pontifical University in Madrid and was hosted by its Chair on Science, Technology and Religion. The cluster on Dialogue Science and Religion was the one to continue the process started by the cluster on Economy, Poverty and Ethics.  Dr. Sara Lumbreras, one of the coordinators of the Cluster and Dr. José Manuel Caamaño, the Director of the Chair kindly welcomed us and leaded the meeting. 6 people participated in the meeting: Josef Quitterer (University of Innsbruck) Joaquín Menacho (IQS - Barcelona) Jacek Poznansky SJ (Jesuit University Ignatianum in Krakow) José Manuel Caamaño (Universidad Pontificia Comillas) Sara Lumbreras (Universidad Pontificia Comillas) José Carlos Romero (Universidad Pontificia Comillas - HEST coordinator) Dominique Lambert (University of Namur), the other coordinator of the cluster, could not participate in the meeting but contributed with a letter in which he provided some enlightening ideas for the future work of the cluster. After praying together with ‘Patient Trust’, a beautiful text by Teilhard de Chardin sj, José Carlos Romero presented the general lines of the HEST programme, with its 7 clusters. Then, before the coffee-break, each participant introduced his/her institution and the activities regarding the topic of the cluster in which he or she was already involved.  Since we already knew who we were and what we were doing, we were ready for the next step, i.e. to think creatively about how to propose a collaborative future work. And ideas emerged smoothly! During the brainstorming round about possible topics for the common research, a consensus raised around the concept of “power”, and a possible research question came afterwards: “Science and religion in the crossroads of power relations in post-modern societies”. After such an intense session, we enjoyed an excellent lunch at ICADE, courtesy of the Chair of Science, Technology and Religion The meeting ended with a session about how to organize the future work: Josef volunteered to prepare a first draft to be shared and the other members committed to including their contributions in order to have a first manifest by the end of July. We also agreed on meeting again next February 2018 in Innsbruck in a two days’ workshop. The cluster on Dialogue Science and Religion is on its way. Now it is time for other clusters to follow this fascinating path!
The first cluster meeting of the HEST Program. The first cluster meeting of the HEST programme has finally taken place on January 16, at the IQS facilities in Barcelona, thus becoming the starting pistol for the rest of the clusters. The cluster to take the lead has been the one on Economy, Poverty and Ethics. Dr. José Sols Lucia, one of the coordinators of the Cluster, welcomed us to his university and guided us during the whole meeting. It was a particularly significant moment for all of us who are working in this HEST adventure. The main goal of the meeting was to dream of what we wanted to achieve with this cluster in the next three years and contextualize and concretize in key action steps and activities. 10 people participated in the meeting:  • Javier Arellano (Universidad de Deusto)  • Pedro Caldentey (Universidad Loyola Andalucía)  • Eoin Carroll (Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, Dublin)  • Dariusz Dankowski SJ (Jesuit University Ignatianum in Krakow)  • Marta Ramos (Universidad Pontificia Comillas)  • Albert Evrard SJ (Université de Namur)  • Mihály Borsi (IQS - Ramon Llull University)  • José Sols (IQS - Ramon Llull University)  • Frank Turner SJ (Delegate for the Intellectual Apostolate)  • José Carlos Romero (Universidad Pontificia Comillas - HEST coordinator) The meeting was divided in three main parts: in the first one, José Carlos Romero presented the general lines of the HEST programme, with its 7 thematic clusters and its clear orientation towards the collaborative work between the higher education centres of the Society of Jesus in Europe and its social centres. After a fruitful round of questions, which helped clarify some aspects related to the programme, we proceeded to a second part in which Dr. Pedro Caldentey explained the context and some possible lines of research for the cluster. Again, the presentation gave rise to an interesting exchange of views on the course of the cluster. Finally, we faced the last part of the meeting that sought to concretize the research question and propose the next steps to take. We finally chose this general research question: No one will be left behind: How can we promote justice and common good in global economy? Ideas and practices to build inclusive and sustainable societies: Beyond the paradigm of competition and self-interest. We also defined a transversal approach to that question:  A common analytical and critical perspective: a preferential option for those living at the margins And we decided to look for specific questions with a narrower and more defined approach according to one or more of the following perspectives:  • Theological and Philosophical perspective.  • Public policy/Legal perspective.  • Business perspective  • Economic perspective.  • Cultural perspective.  • Ecological perspective. In order to close the final formulation of the research, we decided that each of the assistants would send to Pedro and José their feedback to the draft proposal.  Afterwards, the Programme and the Cluster coordinators would work in a concept note from those feedbacks. The note will include the final formulation of the questions and the vision of the Cluster together with concrete proposals on research teams organization, outputs and timelines. The meeting ended with a kind farewell to everybody. The cluster is already running, or better said, flying! An exciting research process is waiting for us.
An initiative from the Jesuit universities and faculties in Europe and the Near East. Europe and its values – that’s a key theme in recent years. It’s also the theme of a new Jesuit program called “Higher Education for Social Transformation” (HEST). It involves a unique collaboration between the Jesuit higher education institutions across Europe and the Near East and the Jesuit social centres. With this program the institutions aim to help our societies to discover core values, reflect on them in depth, and find ways to incarnate and apply them to make the lives of the poor more humane and just.  The Steering Committee met for the first time in Brussels on the 18th of November 2016. The aim was to plan how to move forward the 7 programme areas: Ecology and Environmental Challenges Economy, Poverty and Ethics Christian-Muslim Relations Dialogue Science and Religion Ignatian Studies Anthropology Migrations and Refugees Several experts in these areas working at Jesuit higher education institutions across Europe form each cluster.  Focusing academic research on real social challenges of European Society is the main goal of HEST. Dr. Dominique Lambert, international expert on Dialogue Science and Religion said: “There are already many good existing academic papers on these topics, we need a new perspective to respond to the real needs of the society, that is why the focus on social transformation is key”. In the meeting, there were 2 representatives from each cluster as well as José Ignacio Garcia, the social delegate of the CEP. He helps to link the academic research done in the universities and faculties with what is happening in the Social Centres. During the morning, the group listened to presentations from Dani Izuzquiza SJ, representative of the Cultural Reviews network in Europe; José Ignacio García SJ,; as well as two representatives of the European Commission, who gave participants tips on how to advocate in the European Institutions and how they saw the future of Europe. In the afternoon, cluster representatives were encouraged to start organising the first group meeting These will take place in the first half of 2017.  : “There was an great response from the cluster representatives: said John Dardis, CEP President. All of them came with ideas and the commitment to move things forward”. All the clusters ended up with a date for the meeting, a place to gather their group and several ideas of what the group can offer to help achieve the goal of the program. One of the experts on the issue of Economics and Poverty summarized his feelings: “with all the bad news we are receiving lately about the future of Europe, like Brexit or the growth of extremist rhetoric in the political scenery, I am grateful to see an initiative like this one take shape, it gives me hope for the future!” The meeting was hosted by the President of the Conference of European Provincials, Father John Dardis SJ, by the HEST Coordinator, Checa Romero, and the CEP Planning Advisor, Diego Losada, See also:    Universities Meeting Faculties Meeting in Uppsala