What’s next for liberal democracy?
SACRU Summer School in Lisbon ended on a high note

 

The program “A New World Order: The Way Ahead between Democracy and Authoritarian Challenges” was held from July 1 to July 14, 2024, at the campus of Universidade Católica Portuguesa. 16 students from 6 SACRU Universities shared unique perspectives on the future of liberal democracy in 42 hours of teaching divided into classes, tutorials, debates, and networking activities. Faculty members from Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore and Sophia University joined to bring their expertise 

 

There could not have been a more suggestive location than the city of Sintra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to officially conclude the inaugural SACRU Summer School “A New World Order: The Way Ahead between Democracy and Authoritarian Challenges,” held from July 1 to 14 at the Lisbon campus of the Universidade Católica Portuguesa. The visit to Sintra marked the end of the unique program of the Alliance, which gathered 16 students from 6 SACRU Universities to discuss the future of liberal democracy in light of pressing contemporary issues such as authoritarianism and democratic backsliding. Students, who came from different countries and disciplines, engaged in debates and discussions between themselves and with the 16 faculty members coming from Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore and Sophia University.

The program enabled the participants to learn the key features of Political Leadership, Governance, and Democratic Practice in contemporary societies and addressed how to defend peace, pluralism, prosperity and human rights in light of the rapidly changing dynamics of contemporary global politics. «The inspiring success of this inaugural edition of the SACRU Summer School clearly shows how powerful the alliance between the diversity of scientific expertise, the willingness for generous communication and the spirit of cultural interchange can be when striving to find solutions to the mounting challenges threatening both the appeal and stability of liberal democratic forms of government. Our students came from all over the world and have been shaped by different cultural traditions and upbringings – still they were all deeply united in their commitment to delve deeper into the intricacies of democratic existence, and their passion for democratic ideals», Ana Cavalieri, Executive Director of the Summer School, commented.

The classes covered a whole spectrum of contents such as The Portuguese Revolution of 1974 and its rolling stones; Democracy and the challenges of populism and polarization, and the strategies to reshape world politics through the mix of hard and soft power. A specific focus was given on the critical topics like climate change and artificial intelligence through the classes of Raul Caruso, Full Professor of Economic Policy at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, and Tetsuo Morishita, Full Professor of Law and Vice President for Global Academic Affairs of Sophia University.

Tetsuo Morishita addressed the topic of AI and the rule of law, stimulating students on how we could address AI to foster democracy: «Students actively expressed their views on issues such as what limitations AIs have, how various decisions in the democratic process may be delegated to AIs, and how AIs can be used to strengthen democracy. The students’ comments and questions were all excellent and to the point. Through the discussion, I believe we were able to deepen our thoughts on how democracy should interact with Ais. This Summer School is a valuable exchange opportunity not only for students but also for faculty members. I was only able to attend for a day and a half, but I wish I could have attended longer to further exchange views with students and other faculty members. I would like to express my sincere respect to those who have planned and implemented such a valuable learning opportunity».

Raul Caruso gave a lecture on the impact of climate change on social turmoil, and violence and protest: «The class was designed to stimulate students’ critical thinking on the relationship between violence and climate change, which was the core of the lecture. Students showed great engagement, bringing various approaches to the topic. This is due to the topic’s interdisciplinary nature and the different cultural contexts from which the students came. In fact, I believe the main strength of this SACRU initiative is that it stimulated both students and faculty members’ reflections».

Students were given the chance to have a 360-degree experience that was not only centred on class but also on cultural visits to the beauties of Lisbon, such as the Castle of Sao Jorge, the Belem Tower, and the Monastery of Jeronimos. Other social moments were a boat tour of Lisbon and listening to Fado, a typical Portuguese music, in a restaurant. These activities were important to complement students’ knowledge of democracy by strengthening inter-community ties and familiarity with SACRU.

The feedback from students in this regard was nothing but positive. «It was a real pleasure to travel to Lisbon to attend the first SACRU Summer School. The theme of the program provided a fascinating and timely backdrop for our discussions. With my background in law, I found the Summer School’s interdisciplinary approach immensely valuable, especially as it allowed me to learn from other disciplines, notably political theory. It was a remarkable learning pathway that allowed me to engage deeply with these topics. I had the opportunity to discuss with experts and peers from a variety of disciplines and cultures, making it a truly interdisciplinary and multicultural exchange. As part of the program, we visited various historical places such as Sintra, the National Palace of Pena, and the Belem Tower, among others. The experience of participating in the SACRU Summer School and immersing myself in Portuguese culture was, in a word, “inesquecível” – unforgettable. I am deeply grateful to SACRU and Universidade Católica Portuguesa for organizing such an excellent program and for their memorable hospitality», Lima Atkar, Ph.D. student in Law&Business at the Australian Catholic University, said.

To conclude the Summer School, students will present an academic portfolio composed of 10-15 sources on a case of their choice on democratic backsliding.

Students from SACRU Universities debate
Liberal Democracy in Lisbon

 

 Inês, Marco, Pau, Felipe and Erica came from Lisbon, Porto, Barcelona, Santiago de Chile and Milan to debate liberal democracy in Lisbon. From different backgrounds and cultures, they gather at the Institute for Political Studies, Católica, for «intense and interesting debates, as everyone brings unique perspectives to the table». Read the students’ testimonies from SACRU’s first Summer School.

 

On the lawn of Católica’s headquarters and flanked by the walls of São Jorge Castle, in the sunny city of Lisbon, 16 young students from all over the world gathered to debate Liberal Democracy. A rich academic reflection on a journey across four continents, from 1 to 14 July. Inês Caxias and Marco Osório were two of the Universidade Católica Portuguesa students selected to take part in this inaugural Summer School of the Strategic Alliance of Catholic Research Universities. Studying Political Science and International Relations at UCP’s Institute of Political Studies – co-organizer of the programme – for Inês the choice was obvious and at the end of the first week she said she «is thoroughly enjoying it». «The classes are intense, but you truly learn a lot» and «the environment is amazing,» she added. She is particularly interested in «the classes on crises and challenges to democracy» and especially the sessions on «sharp power, the threats to international institutions, and whether AI will undermine democracy».


In a different field, attending the Master’s in Management at Católica Porto Business School, Marco, 23, was equally enthusiastic about the programme. «I’m particularly interested in topics that move the world, such as politics. I like getting to know various points of view and deepening my knowledge of this area,» he explains.
About the «very enriching and complete» programme, as he describes it, what interests him most is exploring in depth «topics such as liberal democracy, the threat of authoritarianism and social change.» Also on the Iberian Peninsula, Pau Gener Ferrer, 21, is studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics at the Universitat Ramon Llull in Barcelona. He learnt about the SACRU Summer School through the student association and saw it as an opportunity to discuss liberal democracy, a topic he believes society «owes a lot to.» In Lisbon, the student says he met «incredible people.» But «the best part was meeting them while working together, debating. It is always exciting to study abroad, but it is not every day that you get a chance to work hand in hand with people from different ages, backgrounds and nationalities,» he emphasized, in what is precisely the key point of this Summer School: multiculturalism and multidisciplinarity.


Coming from Milan, Erica Locarini brought with her the expectation of getting to know “different perspectives” and addressing «points of democracy that are not covered in regular classes, for example, the link between democracy and AI.»
Currently studying for a Master’s degree in Policies for International Development Cooperation at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano, Erica is particularly excited about the opportunity to get to know Portuguese culture at Fado Night. From the other side of the world came Felipe Lledó. He’s 24 years old, Chilean and in the final year of his Master’s programme in Language and Literature at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. It’s the first time he’s visiting a European country, and he confides that he wanted to take part because he’s always liked «to learn about politics.» Having tried to link linguistics research to political discourse: «I think this Summer School can give me theoretical tools to better understand the political phenomena I want to study from the area of linguistics.»


With a truly rich programme, this small group, which also includes students from Boston College, USA, and Australian Catholic University, «promotes intense and interesting debates, as everyone brings unique perspectives to the table,» explains Inês. And after just five days, “new friendships have been created and global connections made,” Marco points out.
Reflecting on the Summer School, Pau stresses that he learned «both how to criticize and defend democracy,» which he believes helped him «to better understand how ideas and political systems work.» On the other hand, Chile’s Felipe highlights the different perspectives on democracy: «listening and learning how these issues are discussed and seen in the US and Europe, in contrast to Latin America,» but also between different authors and theories, as emphasized by Marco. For these students, it was not only an opportunity to debate issues, but also their first contact with SACRU. Marco believes that the «experience provided an excellent image of the Alliance,» noting that it is an initiative of «extreme importance for strengthening inter-community ties and developing students’ knowledge.» «At a time when we are witnessing trends towards ‘de-globalisation’, these moments of sharing and study between different cultures are very important,» Marco concluded. 

SACRU Summer School in Lisbon started at full speed 

 Classes, cultural visits, debates involving students from different continents and a good mood marked the start of the two-week programme “A New World Order: The Way Ahead between Democracy and Authoritarian Challenges”

SACRU has kicked its first Summer School: “A New World Order: The Way Ahead between Democracy and Authoritarian Challenges.” The initiative occurs from July 1st to July 14th, 2024, at the Lisbon campus of Universidade Católica Portuguesa. The two-week program was opened on Monday by Prof. Monica Dias, Director of the Institute for Political Studies at Universidade Católica Portuguesa and Scientific Director of the Summer School, and Prof. Francisco Proença Garcia, Associate Dean at the UCP Institute for Political Studies. Classes started shortly after, with the lectures “What is democracy? The ancient and modern concept of understanding” given by Prof. Joao Pereira Coutinho, a columinst in portugal and brazil and commentator on Portuguese television and “The Portuguese Revolution of 1974 and its rolling milestones” by Prof. José Miguel Sardica, Historian and Associate Professor at the UCP Institute for Political Studies. Classes were combined with the cultural visits at Gulbenkian Gardens and the Castle of Sao Jorge.

Between Democracy and Authoritarian Challenges:
SACRU to host its inaugural Summer School in Lisbon

 

The Summer School will welcome 16 students from 6 universities in Europe, Oceania, North America and South America, showcasing the global outreach of the SACRU network and its commitment to engaging the young generation worldwide

 

 

The Strategic Alliance of Catholic Research Universities (SACRU) will hold its first Summer School: “A New World Order: The Way Ahead between Democracy and Authoritarian Challenges.” The initiative will take place from July 1st to July 14th, 2024, at the Lisbon campus of Universidade Católica Portuguesa, one of the partners of the SACRU network.

The Summer School will welcome 16 students from 6 universities in Europe, Oceania, North America and South America. The program aims to provide a comprehensive educational experience, combining academic study with cultural immersion. This first edition will be dedicated to the pervasive and pressing challenges currently threatening the stability and deemed desirability of ‘liberal democracy’ in an increasingly interconnected, competitive and complex global order.

A crushing sequence of world-rocking events – from the 9/11 terror attacks and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a global refugee crisis, unprecedented waves of migration, and a global public health catastrophe caused by Covid-19 – has taken a heavy toll on liberal democracy’s standing, self-confidence and perceived suitability in dealing with present-day intricate realities.

«This Summer School reflects SACRU’s commitment to engaging the young generation worldwide. This program will offer students a unique experience that goes beyond the hours of teaching. It will be an opportunity for them to feel part of a global network and build strong ties with one another. In a present and future defined by internationalization, it is fundamental for the Alliance to keep proposing similar initiatives» SACRU Secretary General and Università Cattolica Vice-Rector Prof. Pier Sandro Cocconcelli commented.

The course will be both extremely relevant and consequential to scholars and students seeking to reflect on how ‘liberal democracy’ should be defined, how it was developed, what interactions have been adopted, what has gone wrong, what criticisms have become popular, and what principles should guide a possible ‘liberal democratic” revival. The multidisciplinary nature of the program is one of its principal strengths. Indeed, the students selected to attend the program come from several backgrounds: Political Science, International Relations, Development and Cooperation, History, Philosophy, Law, Nursing, Languages, Business, and Psychology. This integration of various disciplines enriches the learning experience, fosters a comprehensive understanding of complex global issues, and proves that the SACRU’s focus on interdisciplinarity is a cornerstone of its activities.

In addition to professors from Universidade Católica Portuguesa, faculty members from Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (Italy) and Sophia University (Japan) will contribute with their expertise. Participants will also engage in visits and cultural activities around Lisbon, enhancing their overall experience. «Many of the challenges currently threatening the stability of democratic societies are global – both in nature and impact. That is why initiatives like SACRU Summer School bring immense value: it allows experts and students from all over the world to come together and share unique experiences, offer different perspectives and propose innovative solutions, while immersing themselves in a program that promotes scientific curiosity and generous communication. It is a true honor for the University Católica Portuguesa to host this inaugural program in Lisbon and contribute to the revitalization of democratic political thought», Prof. Mónica Dias, Director of the Institute of Political Studies at Universidade Católica Portuguesa and Scientific Director of the Summer School, affirmed.

 

Reflections on United Nations SDGs:
n.13 Climate Action

UC Chile has realized this insight through the written article of Maryon Urbina, Director of  Sustainability, and the video of  Catalina Miranda, Engineering student

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 with the goal of providing a path for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. The core of the Agenda is represented by the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which represent an urgent call for action by all countries – developed and developing – in a global partnership to adopt strategies that aim to end poverty and other deprivations, improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth. The Strategic Alliance of Catholic Research Universities is collecting insights from SACRU experts and students on the SDGs. 

This contribution is by UC Chile on SDG n13: Climate Action

A Strategy for Climate Action

Written by Maryon Urbina, Sustainability Director of UC Chile

Universities, in their mission to form well-rounded individuals, have an ethical responsibility to address contemporary global challenges such as climate change. SDG 13, “Climate Action,” recognizes climate change as a global threat affecting all countries, with consequences including rising temperatures, changes in rainfall patterns, increased frequency and severity of extreme weather events, and rising sea levels. Pope Francis, through Laudato Si’, has issued an urgent call to care for our common home, emphasizing the need for an ecological conversion that leads us to respect and protect the environment. Catholic universities, in their mission to form holistic individuals, have the ethical responsibility to address contemporary global challenges by promoting climate action in their teaching and research activities, community engagement, and setting an example for society through their own daily practices.

In this context, UC Chile in 2019 became the first Chilean university to declare a climate emergency, join the Race to Zero, and commit to carbon neutrality by 2038, the year the institution will celebrate its 150th anniversary. Since 2020, UC Chile has developed an organizational structure and participatory process, forming a climate action council that includes representatives from operational, educational, and research areas, as well as students. The council has guided the development of baselines, plans, and new objectives related to mitigation and adaptation on its campuses. In 2023, the university published its Climate Action Strategy, and to date, there have been notable advances. The consideration of SDG 13, Climate Action, by Catholic universities is a natural extension of their foundational principles, educational mission, and commitment to society. Adopting this goal to form agents of positive change is fundamental for a world that desperately needs sustainable and just solutions.

In remembrance of Prof. Franco Anelli

 

On behalf of all members of the Strategic Alliance of Catholic Research Universities (SACRU) I would like to acknowledge how saddened we were by the recent death of our dear friend and colleague, Professor Franco Anelli, the Rector of Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore.

Franco was a highly esteemed legal academic and leader in Catholic higher education. As the Rector of Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, he was critical to the establishment and success of SACRU. We will miss his insight, his vision, his intellect and his humour.

Our prayers and our thoughts are with his family, his friends and all of his colleagues at Sacro Cuore.

 

Professor Zlatko Skrbis

SACRU President 

SACRU partners’ meeting at the 2024 NAFSA conference

 

 

On Friday 31 May at NAFSA 2024 in New Orleans, colleagues from SACRU universities came together for a morning coffee reception to network and discuss their collaborations.  Hosted by Australian Catholic University, more than 20 colleagues enjoyed the event.  This SACRU networking activity has now become a regular event at the NAFSA and EAIE conferences.  Chris Riley as a member of the SACRU Executive Board thanked every one for their support and spoke briefly about the benefits of SACRU membership and the significant achievements of this young research focused alliance.

 

SEMINAR

Towards A Virtue Ethics for
Autonomous Vehicles

Click on the picture or here to follow for event

 

Date: May 14

Time: 

5pm in Lisbon

6 pm in Milan and Barcelona

Noon in Boston and Santiago de Chile

1 pm in Rio de Janeiro

1 am (May 15) in Tokyo

2 am (May 15) in Sydney

 

Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation:
Economy and Society Awards
Publications section and Scholarships section

 

7th edition of the Economy and Society Award – Publications section

To promote knowledge of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church, the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation (FCAPP) has announced a prize worth 20,000 euro for publications in economic and social fields

The award is biennial; allocations will take place in 2025.

Publication requirements

The prize will be awarded to a publication issued after 2019. The prize-winning work must be distinguished by its original contribution towards explaining, developing or applying the Church’s social doctrine in today’s context, be rigorous and of notable quality. The Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation intends to reward contributions that are easily understood by the general public and express with prophetic force a Christian commitment in economic and social activity. The jury will consider entries published in French, English, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, German and Polish. If there is more than one winner, the prize will be divided among them equally.

Reporting of candidates

Applications must be submitted by May 22nd 2024 

Candidates are invited to send their nomination to: centannus.award@foundation.va

 

 

4th Edition INTERNATIONAL “ECONOMY AND SOCIETY” AWARD for the assignment of two scholarships

To promote knowledge of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church, the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation (FCAPP) is offering a prize awarding two scholarships to young researchers worth 10,000 and/or 20,000 euro

The award is annual; allocations will take place in 2024.

Scholarship requirements

In response to the Holy Father’s appeals, FCAPP will be announcing a qualification-based competition for the assignment of two scholarships reserved for young research scholars of no more than 35 years of age. Commencing with the 2024/2025 academic year, they must attend advanced specialization courses and / or research courses at Universities or Higher Education Institutions / Schools in the study and application of new models of socio-economic development which, in line with the principles of the Social Doctrine of the Church, are inclusive, supportive and sustainable. The scholarships will have a value of € 10,000 if specialization/research will take place in the same country of residence of the candidate, € 20,000 otherwise.

Candidates should send a short 3-page presentation to the award jury showing the project they intend to work on – attaching the opinion of a professor responsible for the project itself – and a copy of the university qualifications indicated below.

Candidates must have a master’s degree, or equivalent qualification, obtained in the period between 1st August 2017 and 31st December 2023. Academic excellence will be considered in the evaluation process.

The specialization courses applicable for the implementation of the project, must be of a minimum duration of one academic year.

Projects in French, English, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, German and Polish will be considered.

Reporting of candidates

Applications must be submitted, together with the documents indicated above, by May 22st 2024

Candidates are invited to send their nomination to: centannus.award@foundation.va

 

 

 

 

Reflections on United Nations SDGs:
n.4 Quality Education

 

Universitat Ramon Llull has realized this insight through the written article of Prof Elisabet Golobardes Ribé, Vice-Rector for Academic Organization and Quality | Digital University, and the video of Carlos Vazquez Parra, student in the same University

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 with the goal of providing a path for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. The core of the Agenda is represented by the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which represent an urgent call for action by all countries – developed and developing – in a global partnership to adopt strategies that aim to end poverty and other deprivations, improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth. The Strategic Alliance of Catholic Research Universities is collecting insights from SACRU experts and students on the SDGs. 

This contribution is by the Universitat Ramon Llull on SDG n.4: Quality Education

Artificial Intelligence, Education and Humanism

Written by Elisabet Golobardes Ribé, Vice-Rector for Academic Organization and Quality | Digital University

The irruption of ChatGPT, last November 2022, entered with great force into the heart of society, in homes, in companies, in schools and in the university. Suddenly, there is news about Artificial Intelligence (AI) every day and in any media. It is worth saying that the concept of AI was born around 1956 and aimed to group algorithms that performed tasks that would be considered intelligent if performed by a human. And, of course, a software, ChatGPT, that “converses better” than many humans confuses us. Both for the use and for the abuse we can make of it. Then a new earthquake comes, the results of the latest PISA 2022 report, which indicate that reading comprehension and mathematical knowledge are declining. Is AI responsible? Will AI displace education? Or could it be the path to follow?

Let’s stop for a moment. Remember that AI and ChatGPT are just tools. What we have to offer the members of university campuses are spaces to think, to discuss, to exchange points of view, to learn from each other, to respect each other. It is up to us to train responsible, ethical, and critical people and professionals. That they are able to listen, understand what they read and know how to write and communicate properly. What is needed is more humanism. That AI is a well-used tool that can also help enhance these more digital and, at the same time, more human skills. In fact, we, on our campus, have prepared and made available to everyone recommendations for the proper use of Artificial Intelligence-based tools, which have been developed by the Working Group on the Impact of Artificial Intelligence Tools Applied to Teaching-URL.

We must continue to educate, educate, and educate.

For reference: https://www.url.edu/en/pedagogical-innovation-and-quality/recommendations-proper-use-artificial-intelligence-based-tools