We live in a world that has become more and more interconnected. Today, what happens in one corner of the world impacts the life all humans and the planet. Some of the current challenges such as climate change, war, the COVID pandemic and immigration have made clear that we do not live in isolated countries and that national borders do not stop the problems that affect us all. Thus, we need to provide an education that can respond to this new reality of one humanity sharing a common home. Today, a holistic education must prepare the new generations to share this common responsibility and create the conditions for collaboration and solidarity. Pope Francis, as a global leader, has acknowledged the new context and has made repeated calls for a new global compact on education that can offer the new generations the skills, knowledge, and conditions for the challenges ahead.
UNESCO has also recognized the need for reimagining our futures together through a new social contract for education since a “vast number of people… are keenly aware that we are connected on this shared planet and that it is imperative that we work together” (A New Social Contract for Education, 2021).
Jesuit Education, as the SIPEI International Seminar discussed in 2014, aims at Human Excellence as it is capture in the 4Cs: persons of consciousness, competence, commitment, and compassion. We invite our students to develop their full potential at the service of God and others. Today this human excellence cannot be accomplished without an education that prepares students, educators, and parents for the reality of a common world. The recent and strong call by General Congregation 36th for discernment, collaboration, and networking as our contemporary way of proceeding suited to our times (D. 2) points in the same direction. As Arrupe proclaimed “splendid isolation” is not an option for our schools; we can also add is not an option either for nations or the new generations.
The concept of global citizenship that is emerging helps to respond to this new reality. Fr. General Sosa in 2017 challenged the schools to be proactive and address this new requirement: “How can our schools welcome global citizens and offer them an education, one that respects the local particularities of cultures while making our potential and universal commitment evident? We should be able to put together educational programs that help us to think and act locally and globally… without losing our Christian and Ignatian identity.” (Rio de Janeiro, 2017).
As a response to Fr. General’s challenge the Secretariat for Education created a taskforce with representation from all Jesuit Conferences to offer a framework for global citizenship in our schools. After several months of intense work, the taskforce offered the schools an inspiring definition of a global citizen from an Ignatian perspective:
“Global Citizens are those who continuously seek to deepen their awareness of their place and responsibility, both locally and globally, in an increasingly interconnected world; those who stand in solidarity with others in the pursuit of a sustainable earth and a more humane world as true companions in the mission of reconciliation and justice” (Global Citizenship Taskforce, Global Citizenship: An Ignatian Perspective, 2019).
It is clear for Jesuit Education that educating global citizens does not mean neglecting or abandoning the local roots and responsibilities that enrich life and connects us to the real people around us. The taskforce also offers a way of proceeding in our schools that provides a true Ignatian program on Global Citizenship that can embody today the early Jesuit conviction that puerilis institutio est renovatio mundi (the education of the youth is the renewal of the world) as Fr. Juan de Bonifacio SJ argued (circa 1575).
However, how can we educators, educated in a different way for a different world, learn to become these global citizens who can then prepare our students for the reality of a common world and thus, accompany them towards becoming well-rounded persons of consciousness, competence, commitment, and compassion. Our recently launched Jesuit Global Network of Schools (JGNS) is a powerful sign that we want to take collaboration among our schools and educators seriously by sharing resources, ideas, programs, and dreams. Moreover, in 2015 we also launched Educate Magis as the online community/platform, through which educators from our JGNS are encouraged to collaborate at the international level. Since then, educators from all over the world have created multiple opportunities for working together, deepening the knowledge and practice of Jesuit Education, building a global community where we can learn, practice, and build global solidarity and friendship as true companions of all humanity and creation. Projects such as the Global Red Chair, Walk in a Mile in a My Shoes, and Who do you Want to Be? , as well as online courses on Ignatian Spirituality, Ignatian Pedagogy, and Global Citizenship have connected educators and students from across the world and created an unprecedented level of collaboration that make us hopeful for the future. This has been learning by doing… very much part of our own educational tradition. Are you already involved in our global community of Jesuit and Ignatian educators? What are you waiting for? You can start here!