Forming leaders for a fairer future
Jesuits around the world are responding to Pope Francis’ call to engage with young people to build missionary disciples who will respond with generosity and creativity to environmental injustice.
Fr Eddy Bermingham SJ has co-created a new MA Theology, Ecology and Ethics to be taught at the new London Jesuit Centre, and Fr Peter Rozic SJ has just launched the Brussels-based European Leadership Programme.
Fr Eddy describes the synergies.
"There is something exciting about beginnings. When all sorts of opportunities seem possible and the practicalities of doing anything haven’t started to limit your thinking. You can explore ideas and go down “what if” avenues and it doesn’t matter if they are dead ends because everything is at the exploratory stage.
So it was when Peter Rožič SJ and I met up in a Brussels café with the Arc du Cinquantenaire in the background. Peter is the Director of JESC (Jesuit European Social Centre, formerly OCIPE) and over coffee we discussed possible links between the newly founded European Leadership Programme based in Brussels and the MA Theology, Ecology and Ethics to be delivered in the London Jesuit Centre at Mount Street from September 2019 - a University of Roehampton degree co-created with the Jesuits in Britain.
Here are two of the possible links between the MA programme and JESC that we explored. Firstly, to collaborate with the European Leadership Programme which JESC launched this year with five participants known as ELP Fellows. The programme is designed to add value (and values) to the participants on the various EU Traineeship Programmes. The programme has four components:
1. Fellows live together in community which can be quite a challenge for highly motivated and successful individuals.
2. They attend a lecture/seminar series delivered by academics, politicians and EU bureaucrats – which includes much more informal meetings over meals or drinks.
3. They undertake a social volunteering ministry - currently preparing breakfasts for refugees at Gare du Nord.
4. They are mentored in personal and spiritual development.
Peter Rožič SJ is negotiating with several European universities with a view to establishing an MA programme based around the ELP programme and it is possible that some form of twinning relationship might be developed between this MA and our London MA Theology, Ecology and Ethics. The practicalities might overwhelm us but over ice cream and coffee it seemed an exciting avenue to explore further.
The second area of collaboration is more straightforward. The MA Theology, Ecology and Ethics is not just a classroom-based programme. There is a compulsory module which requires a 60 hour placement. It is possible that a student might do their placement attached to JESC or another Catholic EU agency. Similarly, students have the option of completing their MA Dissertation based on a field work experience. JESC may well be able to partner with the MA programme to identify suitable field work situations.
These two very different programmes with significantly different stories are linked by a common aspiration - the desire to contribute to the education and formation of future leaders equipped to face the challenges posed by both climate change and broader environmental justice issues.
The Jesuits are not alone in having such dreams, but we do have a particular contribution to make and those who apply for these programmes do so, in part, because they are attracted by the vision for reconciliation between God, ourselves and Creation that shapes the Jesuit contribution in this field."
There are a small number of scholarships/bursaries available for the MA Theology, Ecology and Ethics more information is available at TEEbursaries@jesuit.org.uk
More information on the European Leadership Programme