Boston College’s global engagement efforts have proceeded along several fronts, from community-wide dialogue among administrators, faculty, students, and staff to assessment of data on peer institutions’ international activities—and, more recently, a focus on the Jesuit-Catholic dimensions of global engagement.
In the past few months, BC has been active in new and ongoing international consortia for Jesuit and Catholic education, and been confirmed as the host for a major international conference for Catholic universities in 2021.
These developments are notable in and of themselves, said Vice Provost for Global Engagement Alberto Godenzi, but also reflect BC’s new global approach, a commitment inscribed in “Ever to Excel,” the University’s 10-year Strategic Plan.
“In the past, we seized opportunities abroad without a comprehensive global strategy,” explained Godenzi, co-chair of the Global Engagement Committee, appointed by University President William P. Leahy, S.J., in 2017 to assess the scope of BC’s current international activities, identify the best avenues for growth, and determine the resources and structures necessary to meet the University’s objectives.
“That is changing. When we identify potential partners or opportunities in global engagement, we ask, ‘Does this represent an area of strength for Boston College? Will it support not only our academic mission, but our formational mission as well?’ BC is now more intentional and holistic in considering its international presence and impact.
“‘Ever to Excel’ also stresses BC’s role in educating leaders for the Catholic Church around the world, and sustaining the University’s Jesuit heritage. These new partnerships not only speak to advancing our global engagement, but affirming our identity as a Jesuit, Catholic university.”
Godenzi discussed the newest global engagement milestones:
• International Association of Jesuit Universities: Formed in July in Loyola, Spain, the IAJU is the international advisory and coordinating body to the secretariat of Jesuit higher education and, through him, the Jesuit Superior General and his assistants in matters related to higher education and the intellectual apostolate. Its member universities and institutions represent the six regions of the Society of Jesus: Africa, East Asia, South Asia, Europe, Latin America, and North America.
“What’s significant is that this is a Jesuit organization which is global, instead of being regionally focused,” said Godenzi. “The IAJU is an attempt to spur more contact and collaboration between the regions. It is also directly tied to the call of the Jesuits’ General Congregation that all Jesuit institutions promote the faith that does justice and become communities of discernment and reconciliation.
“The association expressly states the goals of serving the Church’s mission by advancing Catholic social thought through teaching and research as well as advocacy, and of fostering collaboration and research between scholars and institutions within the IAJU on priority issues and challenges. Those are very much in agreement with Boston College’s own objectives.”
• Strategic Alliance of Catholic Research Universities: SACRU, which will be officially launched on Oct. 12 in Lisbon, also includes Catholic universities in Portugal, Spain, Italy, Chile, Japan, Brazil, and Australia. Its members’ shared principles are identified as a university culture inspired by Catholicism, with respect for academic freedom; a spirit of “great rigor” in the academic quality of teaching, research, and service to the community; a commitment to develop a research-intensive environment championing academic freedom and ethical responsibility; and a commitment to cooperation that allows for enhancement of the global alliance via special sector agreements.
“The phrase ‘strategic alliance’ is key here,” said Godenzi. “BC and its SACRU partners will work to cooperate in teaching, research, and service to the community, promote teaching and research exchanges among faculty and students, and encourage joint research projects and publications. This is an exciting prospect for BC in so many respects, especially the opportunity to partner with eminent Catholic universities in other parts of the world.”
• International Federation of Catholic Universities General Assembly: This conference, held every three years—it took place in Ireland this past summer—brings together presidents, vice presidents, and senior international officers from more than 200 Catholic universities around the world. Among other objectives, the federation seeks to contribute to the development of Catholic higher education, and the assertion of its distinctive identity, while promoting experience and skill exchange, and reflection on mission among Catholic colleges, universities and institutions.
“These new partnerships not only speak to advancing our global engagement, but affirming our identity as a Jesuit, Catholic university . . . Hosting such a high-profile event is a coup for Boston College. We will literally be opening our campus to the world, and welcoming leaders in Catholic higher education. ”
“Hosting such a high-profile event is a coup for Boston College,” said Godenzi. “We will literally be opening our campus to the world, and welcoming leaders in Catholic higher education. The assembly provides a setting for important conversations about the challenges—social, political, economic—that our institutions seek to address through our academic and formational missions.”
Meanwhile, the GE Committee is wrapping up a report, expected to be finished next month, that will lay out a blueprint for initiatives, programs, resources, and other means for expanding BC’s global engagement.
“We’ve been very pleased with the response to our efforts, and with the support we’ve received from Fr. Leahy and [Provost and Dean of Faculties] David Quigley,” said Godenzi. “There have been a lot of details to pull together, and we look forward to sharing these with the University community.”
For more on global engagement at BC, visit the BC Global website.
Sean Smith | University Communications | September 2018