Day II at the General Assembly: Secularization and Innovation

July 4th 2023

The second day of the Kircher Network General Assembly of Presidents and Deans started with a prayer and a summary of the goals for the day.


Dr. Hans Joas, professor of theology of the University of Humboldt in Berlin was invited to be one of the two keynote speakers of the day. His lecture “What comes after the secularization thesis? Religious and secular sources of moral universalism” brought up fascinating topics for the participants to consider and debate on.

Dr. Hans Joas

There is no true Christian faith without moral universalism

Dr. Joas dispelled many misunderstandings regarding modern secularism and its place in the world. Although it may seem like an unconquerable force sweeping across the Earth and planting seeds of confrontation within society, there are many different perspectives and shades in-between. Reducing such a matter to a black-and-white issue is not only inaccurate but dangerous when it comes to finding solutions and ways of adapting the Ignatian vision to such a world.

The second keynote speaker of the day, Dr. Ivan Bofarull, spoke of the relevance of being innovative in the Jesuit environment in such a rapidly changing world. In his lecture “Disruption in higher education: how can an European university stay relevant in the future?”, he talked about the fear of finding too many risks when being innovative and trying out new things or even entrepreneurships; most of these risks have been mitigated in the last decade, so there is more to gain by daring to be disrupting and upsetting the status quo than by staying hesitant.

Dr. Ivan Bofarull

What is going to make us unique 20 years from now is our purpose.

By “disrupting”, Dr. Bofarull wants to bring forward the idea that there can be new ideas that become paradigm shifts in the wider spectrum of society. Amazon changed the rules of the game of online shopping; Uber did in regards to mobility. A need must be spotted and thus, through it, there must be a gateway to disruption.

To apply this to higher education and, specifically, higher education in Jesuit institutions, the scarcity of personalized teaching and thinking as brought on by AI must be addressed and turned into an opportunity. New innovation trajectories must be created by building non-linear models of education that focus on bringing about the best possible actualized educational model applied to Ignatian views.

The evening closed with a plenary session to address the discussions that had been had throughout the day in small group meetings on the implications of the social and cultural challenges the Kircher Network will have to face in the upcoming years and how to apply the disruption model to these challenging times.

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