Developing new forms of collaboration among Jesuit universities has long been one of my priorities. In 2011, I organized a conference entitled Bridges to Infinity: Humankind, God and the Scientific Enterprise at Santa Clara University, which brought together participants from Jesuit institutions in the United States, India, Uruguay, Argentina and Colombia. The objective of this conference was to examine different ways in which Jesuit universities might collaborate, using science and religion as a common framework. The conference program can be downloaded here.
In his letter to Fr. Michael Engh, the President of Santa Clara University, on May 27, 2011, Fr. Adolfo Nicolás described the significance of the conference in the following way:
Involving Jesuit higher educational institutions in India and three of our universities from South America, the conference led to efforts for a worldwide Jesuit network on this topic. Santa Clara University is to be commended on this follow up to the meeting in Mexico last year, at which I encouraged Jesuit institutions throughout the world “to expand and build more universal, more effective international networks of Jesuit higher education.” This is just the kind of work I had hoped for.
Fr. Adolfo Nicolás
Superior General of the Society of Jesus
My work on building global connections between Jesuit universities continued with a lecture tour of India in June and July of 2013. Over a two week period, I gave talks on science and religion at seven different Jesuit and Catholic institutions in Mumbai, Vijayawada and Kolkata.
The final event on this tour was a keynote presentation at the International Seminar on Science and Religion, which was held at St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata. The conference program can be downloaded here.
One of the principal achievements of this tour was the establishment of closer ties between Santa Clara University and two elite Jesuit schools in India. As a part of this collaboration, I now teach a “hybrid” version of my course Science, Religion and the Limits of Knowledge at St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata and at St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. St. Xavier’s College Kolkata recently devoted a special issue of Goethals News to this class, featuring highlights of student essays as well as my article: “Science and Religion in Jesuit Higher Education: Building a Network for the 21st Century”.
In the fall of 2014, I began teaching this course at the Catholic University of Montevideo, Uruguay (in the same format as in India, where some of the lectures are delivered on location, and others are recorded). Since it is now offered at four universities on three continents, this class represents an example of how global collaboration between Jesuit schools can work in practice. I have plans to extend this model to the Catholic University of Cordoba, Argentina, in the near future, and possibly to Europe as well.
I hope that my experience in this area will encourage faculty from other Jesuit institutions to attempt similar forms of curricular exchange. This will be one of my main goals as a member of the Steering Committee of the International Association of Jesuit Engineering Schools (IAJES), to which I was elected in 2018.