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Dear Participants,

I want to add my welcome to those of Fathers Adolfo Nicolás and Morales as well as offer some reflections on the program. The title - Networking Jesuit Higher Education for the Globalizing World: Shaping the Future for a Humane, Just, Sustainable Globe – identifies the central purpose of the conference while the specific purposes include: to enhance Jesuit education for students and faculty, to strengthen Catholic, Jesuit identity and mission, to address intellectually some key “frontier” challenges, to serve society and the Church better, to collaborate more effectively with other Jesuit ministries, to network globally via the “internet,” Jesuit higher education.

Since the early 1980s, there have been only two such conferences - in 1985 and 2001 - when Father General gathered with presidents, rectors and colleagues from around the world. The 2010 conference, with the new context of globalization and new communication technologies, has the greatest potential both for improving Jesuit higher education and for benefiting its students, faculty, society, and the Church, and addressing serious contemporary problems including their ethical and religious dimensions.

Learning in a global context is the future. And as the only global network of higher education in the world, Jesuit higher education should seize this opportunity and at same time, accept its responsibility for helping to fashion a more humane, just and sustainable world for all, not only for those with access to education and resources but also those without.

The tentative plan and flow of the conference will begin with an example of networking (Latin American universities and Fe y Alegria using a technology network to collaborate). This will be followed by a panel of presidents presenting challenges that higher education faces in their region and then three “academic” topics (theology and culture, inequality and poverty, and ecology and sustainability). Father Nicolás will open the second day with reflections on higher education and the intellectual apostolate, followed by an interactive session. The afternoon begins with the topic of Jesuit identity and mission followed by sessions for open discussion. The third day begins with a presentation on the Jesuit Commons followed by another session for open discussions. The final half day is for developing a way of proceeding beyond the conference, specifically with the aim of creating a global (technology based) network.

The vast majority of the time will be in small group discussions. To facilitate these discussions and to draw conclusions from them for moving forward, faculty are authoring papers to stimulate the imagination. These papers will not be presented to the group as whole; hence participants are expected to read them before arriving in Mexico City. They will be placed on the website by early March.

December 8, 2009

P. Paul Locatelli, S. J.
Secretary for Jesuit Higher Education
Chancellor of Santa Clara University