Event by Sophia University

The Future of Women’s Leadership

Sophia University is pleased to invite Prof. Isabel Capeloa Gil, Rector of Universidade Católica Portuguesa,  to discuss among panelists the strategies to promote greater involvement of women and raise awareness of the importance of women’s leadership and empowerment in Japan.

  Prof. Isabel Capeloa Gil, President, Catholic University of Portugal
  Dr. Miki Sugimura, Professor, Department of Education, Faculty of Human Sciences

Dr. Makiko Deguchi, Director, Center for Global Education and Discovery


Date: Thursday, October 5, 2023, 5:30-6:30 p.m. (Japan time)
Language: English (with simultaneous interpretation)
Format: Online
How to participate: Pre-registration is required by 17:30 on October 5, via the link below

Isabel Capeloa Gil receives Honoris Causa Doctorate
from Australian Catholic University


Professor Isabel Capeloa Gil of Portugal was conferred a Doctor of the University (honoris causa) in Melbourne on August 30. Professor Capeloa Gil is the sixth Rector and Professor of Culture Studies at the Catholic University of Portugal (UCP), where Pope Francis gave his first address to young people during his apostolic journey to Lisbon for the 2023 World Youth Day. She is also the first female to be elected president of the International Federation of Catholic Universities (IFCU), an organisation of more than 200 Catholic universities worldwide, including ACU.

A trailblazing leader in Catholic higher education, and an inspiration to lay female leaders, Professor Capeloa Gil said she was surprised and humbled to receive the honorary doctorate from ACU. “Although institutionally my university and ACU have a longstanding relationship as founding members of the Strategic Alliance of Catholic Research Universities, this is an individual honour that came as a good surprise,” Professor Capeloa Gil said.

As a woman who wears two hats in Catholic higher education, primarily a scholar and researcher but more recently a leader and administrator, Professor Capeloa Gil said her career highlight was being named president of the IFCU. “When I was elected as the first woman President in 2018, this truly brought about a paradigm change in the way leadership in Catholic higher education was perceived worldwide,” she said.

“IFCU is celebrating its 100th anniversary next year and I am proud to preside over the anniversary events, due to begin in Rome in January.” Her advice to women seeking leadership roles in the Church was to “be bold and be ready to accept the challenge when it comes”. “Leadership comes with risk and women are both solid caretakers and creative disruptors. These are qualities in high demand in top leadership roles,” Professor Capeloa Gil said.

Having recently welcomed the most important leader in the Catholic Church to her university, Professor Capeloa Gil praised Pope Francis for being extremely supportive of female leaders within Church institutions. She said the Holy Father reiterated his support during his World Youth Day gathering with thousands of UCP students. “Pope Francis gave his first address to the youth at the Catholic University of Portugal on August 3 and naturally I was very much involved as host in organising the event,” Professor Capeloa Gil said.

“He clearly highlighted the role of women in His address to students, saying ‘the female contribution is indispensable. In the Bible, we see how the economy of the family is entrusted largely to women. They are the real heads of the household, possessed of a wisdom aimed not merely at profit, but also at care, coexistence, and the physical and spiritual wellbeing of all’.”

Professor Capeloa Gil said the Pope’s visit to Portugal was “a healing moment” for many Catholics globally but especially “for the very ailing European Church”. “For a whole week the chant ‘We are the Pope’s Youth’ resonated on all corners,” Professor Capeloa Gil said.

“This was remarkably a gathering of believers and non-believers summoned by the Pope’s appeal to heal our wounded society, to assist the fragile, to defend our common home, to change and transform.

“The city was overwhelmed with joy and happiness.” ACU Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Zlatko Skrbis said Professor Capeloa Gil exemplified the highest level of international and national leadership in Catholic university education and was highly deserving to be a Doctor of the Universty. “There could not be a more worthy recipient of an ACU honorary doctorate than Professor Capeloa Gil, who as the first female and lay President of the International Federation of Catholic Universities, and the second female Rector of the Catholic University of Portugal, has been a leading advocate for women’s leadership in higher education,” Professor Skrbis said.

“In February, in addition to previous Holy See engagements, she was appointed by Pope Francis as a consultant to the Dicastery for Culture and Education, a recognition of her expertise and commitment to Catholic higher education and the Church. “Among her many achievements in this area, she can be credited for her leadership in the founding of SACRU, the Strategic Alliance of Catholic Research Universities, an alliance which I am honoured to currently lead as its president.

“Here at ACU, we share the belief that universities play a key role in promoting the cause of social justice, consistent with our commitment to the common good, the dignity of the human person, and the pursuit of knowledge in the Catholic intellectual tradition.”

Pope Francis at Universidade Católica:
“Replace fears with dreams”


“Replace fears with dreams. Do not be managers of fears, but entrepreneurs of dreams”. These were the words of Pope Francis at the Universidade Católica Portuguesa, during the Meeting with University Students, which took place on August 3.

The Holy Father also asked young people to ensure that “academic titles are not just a selfish and personal privilege”. He also said that he dreams of a “Generation of masters. Masters of humanity, masters of compassion, masters of new opportunities for the planet and its inhabitants. Masters of Hope”.

At the ceremony, the President of the Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Isabel Capeloa Gil, welcomed the Holy Father and after a presentation about the University said: “We are a University with a strong social sense, awarding scholarships and prizes to more than twenty per cent of our students”. Isabel Capeloa Gil added that “the University is by definition a space of search, risk, discomfort, dialogue and welcome”.

The President also emphasised that “in the face of realities marked by exclusion and inequality, in a time of uncertainty, the University stands as the guardian of Hope, which means promoting the capacity to dream, helping to discern, listening to the voices around us, listening to the time, intervening in it, defending the dignity of women and men, believing in their capacity for transformation”.

The Address of the Holy Father 

“Dear brothers and sisters: Good morning!

Thank you, Madam President, for your words. Thank you. You said that we all feel like “pilgrims”. It is a beautiful word, whose meaning deserves reflection. It means, literally, to leave aside the daily routine and set out on a journey with a goal, to “cross the fields” or “go beyond the limits”, that is, to leave the comfort zone, towards a horizon of meaning. The term “pilgrim” reflects human behaviour, because everyone is called to confront great questions that have no answer, [do not have] a simplistic or immediate answer, but which invite one to undertake a journey, to overcome oneself, to go beyond. This is a process that a university student understands well, because this is how science is born. And this is also how the spiritual quest grows. To go on a pilgrimage is to walk towards a goal or in search of a goal. There is always the danger of walking in a labyrinth, where there is no goal. There is also no way out. Let us be wary of prefabricated formulas – they are labyrinthine – let us be wary of answers that seem to be within reach, of answers that are pulled out of our sleeves like playing cards; let us be wary of proposals that seem to give everything without asking for anything. Let us be suspicious.  Suspicion is a weapon for moving forward and not going round in circles. Suspicion is a weapon for moving forward and not always going round in circles. One of Jesus’ parables says that the one who finds the pearl of great value is the one who searches for it with intelligence and initiative, and who gives everything, risks everything he has to obtain it (cf. Mt 13:45-46). To seek and to risk: these are the two verbs of the pilgrim. To seek and to risk.

Pessoa said, in a troubled but correct way, that “to be dissatisfied is to be a man” (O Quinto Império, in Mensagem). We should not be afraid of feeling restless, of thinking that what we have done is not enough. Being dissatisfied – in this sense and in its right measure – is a good antidote against the presumption of self-sufficiency and against narcissism. Incompleteness defines our condition as seekers and pilgrims, as Jesus says, “we are in the world, but not of the world” (cf. Jn 17:16). We walk “towards”. We are called to something more, to a take-off without which there is no flight. Let us not be alarmed, then, if we find ourselves inwardly thirsty, restless, incomplete, longing for meaning and for the future, longing for the future! And here, along with longing for the future, let us not forget to keep this memory of the future alive. We are not sick, we are alive! Let us worry instead when we are ready to replace the road to travel with a stop at any oasis – even if that comfort is a mirage – when we replace faces with screens, the real with the virtual; when, instead of questions that tear, we prefer easy answers that anaesthetise; and we can find them in any manual of social relations, of how to behave well. Easy answers anaesthetise.

Friends, let me tell you: seek and risk. At this historic moment, the challenges are enormous, the groans are painful – we are living through a third world war in pieces – but we embrace the risk of thinking that we are not in agony, but in labour; we are not at the end, but at the beginning of a great spectacle. And it takes courage to think so. Therefore, be protagonists of a “new choreography” that puts the human person at the centre, be choreographers of the dance of life. I found the President’s words inspiring, especially when she said that “the university does not exist to preserve itself as an institution, but to respond with courage to the challenges of the present and the future”. Self-preservation is a temptation, it is a conditioned reflex of fear, which makes us look at existence in a distorted way. If seeds were preserved, they would completely waste their generative power and condemn us to famine; if winters were preserved, there would be no wonder of spring. So have the courage to replace fears with dreams; replace fears with dreams; do not be managers of fears, but entrepreneurs of dreams!

It would be a waste to think of a university committed to training new generations only to perpetuate the current elitist and unequal system of the world, where higher education is a privilege of the few. If knowledge is not accepted as a responsibility, it becomes sterile. If those who have received higher education – which today, in Portugal and around the world, remains a privilege – do not endeavour to give back part of what they have benefited from, they have not truly understood what has been offered to them. I like to remember that in Genesis, the first questions God asks man are: “Where are you?” (3:9) and “Where is your brother?” (4:9). It would be good to ask ourselves: where am I? Am I locked in my bubble or do I risk leaving my securities to be a practising Christian, a craftsman of justice, a craftsman of beauty? And also: where is my brother? Experiences of fraternal service such as the “Missão País” (Country Mission), and so many others that are born in the academic environment, should be considered indispensable for those who go to university. The diploma, in fact, cannot be seen only as a licence to build personal well-being, no, but as a mandate to dedicate oneself to a more just, more inclusive, that is, more developed society.

I have been told that one of your great poets, Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, in an interview that is a kind of testament, to the question: “What would you like to see realised in Portugal in this new century?”, answered without hesitation: “I would like to see social justice, the reduction of the differences between rich and poor” (Interview by Joaci Oliveira, in Cidade Nova, 3/2001). I refer this question to you. Dear students, pilgrims of knowledge, what would you like to see happen in Portugal and in the world? What changes, what transformations? And how can the university, especially Católica, contribute to this?

Beatriz, Mahoor, Mariana, Tomás, thank you for your testimonies; they all had a tone of hope, a charge of realistic enthusiasm, there were no complaints or illusory flights forward. You want to be protagonists, “protagonists of change”, as Mariana said. Listening to you, I remembered a phrase that may be familiar to you, by the writer José de Almada Negreiros: “I dreamed of a country where everyone became a master” (The Invention of the Clear Day). This old man who speaks to you – because I am already old – also dreams that your generation will be a generation of masters: masters of humanity, masters of compassion, masters of new opportunities for the planet and its inhabitants, masters of hope. And masters who will defend the life of the planet, threatened at the moment by serious ecological destruction.

As some of you have said, we must recognise the dramatic urgency of caring for our common home. However, this cannot be done without a conversion of heart and a change in the anthropological vision that underpins economics and politics. We cannot be content with simple palliative measures or timid and ambiguous commitments. In this case, “the middle ground is only a short postponement of the collapse” (Encyclical Letter Laudato si’, 194). Do not forget this. The middle ground is only a short delay from collapse. Rather, it is a matter of taking charge of that which, unfortunately, continues to be postponed, namely the need to redefine what we call progress and evolution. Because in the name of progress, the way has been opened for a great regression. Study well what I am telling you. In the name of progress, the way has been opened for a great regression. You are the generation that can meet this challenge, you have the most advanced scientific and technological tools, but please do not fall into the trap of partial visions.Do not forget that we need an integral ecology; we need to listen to the suffering of the planet alongside the suffering of the poor; we need to put the drama of desertification alongside the drama of refugees, the question of migration alongside the decline in the birth rate; we need to treat the material dimension of life within a spiritual dimension. Not to create polarisations, but to create global visions.

Thank you, Thomas, for saying that “an authentic integral ecology is not possible without God”, that “there can be no future in a world without God”. I would like to tell you to make faith credible through decisions. Because if faith does not generate convincing lifestyles, it does not leaven the dough of the world. It is not enough for a Christian to be convinced, he must be convincing. Our actions are called to reflect the beauty – joyful and radical – of the Gospel. Moreover, Christianity cannot be seen as a fortress surrounded by walls, standing like a bastion against the world. That is why I found Beatriz’s testimony very incisive when she said that it is precisely “from the sphere of culture” that she feels called to live the Beatitudes. In every age, one of the most important tasks of Christians is to recover the meaning of incarnation. Without incarnation, Christianity becomes an ideology, and the temptation of Christian ideologies, in inverted commas, is very current; it is incarnation that allows us to marvel at the beauty that Christ reveals through every brother and sister, every man and woman.

In this regard, it is interesting that in the new Chair dedicated to the “Economy of Francis” they have included the figure of Clara. Indeed, the contribution of women is indispensable. How often, in the collective unconscious, it is thought that women are second-class, that they are substitutes, that they don’t play the first team. And that exists in the collective unconscious. Women’s contribution is indispensable. In fact, in the Bible, we see how the economy of the family is largely in the hands of the woman. She, with her wisdom, is the true “ruler” of the home, whose goal is not exclusively profit, but care, coexistence, the physical and spiritual well-being of all, and also the ability to share with the poor and the stranger. And it is fascinating to undertake economic studies from this perspective, with the intention of restoring to the economy the dignity it deserves, so that it does not remain in the hands of the wild market and speculation.

The Global Compact for Education initiative and the seven principles that establish its architecture include many of these themes, from caring for our common home to the full participation of women to the need to find new ways of understanding economics, politics, development and progress. I invite you to study the Global Compact for Education, to fall in love with it. One of the points it addresses is education for welcome and inclusion. And we cannot pretend that we have not heard the words of Jesus in Matthew chapter 25: “I was passing by and they welcomed me” (v. 35). I followed Mahoor’s testimony with emotion, when she evoked what it means to live with “the constant feeling of missing home, family, friends […], of being homeless, without university, without money […], tired and exhausted and overwhelmed by pain and loss”. She told us that she regained hope because some people believed in the transformative impact of the culture of encounter. Every time someone practises a gesture of hospitality, it causes a transformation.

Friends, I am very happy to see you as a living educational community, open to reality and aware that the Gospel is not a mere ornament, but animates the parts and the whole. I know that your journey includes various areas: study, friendship, social service, civil and political responsibility, care for the common home and artistic expression. Being a Catholic university means above all this: that each element is in relationship with the whole and that the whole is found in the parts. In this way, at the same time that we acquire scientific competences, we mature as persons, in knowing ourselves and in discerning our own path. Path yes, labyrinth no. So let’s go ahead! A medieval tradition tells us that when pilgrims on the Way of St James crossed paths, one would greet the other with the exclamation: “Ultreia”, and the other would reply: “et Suseia”. These are expressions of encouragement to continue the search and the risk of walking, saying to each other: “Come on, keep going, keep going!” And that is what I also wish for all of you, with all my heart. Thank you very much.”

Greeting from Isabel Capeloa Gil 

Holy Father,
Welcome! Gathered on this campus of the Universidade Católica Portuguesa are students, professors, collaborators, alumni and friends of our university and other Portuguese and international universities who, as pilgrims, with open hearts, welcome you.

The Universidade Católica Portuguesa, born 56 years ago from the Faculty of Philosophy founded by the Society of Jesus, today has 17 Faculties and 4 campi distributed throughout the national territory (Lisbon, Porto, Braga and Viseu), having also founded the current University of Saint Joseph, in Macau. We have 20,000 students, 25% of whom are international, coming from 108 different countries, and more than 2,000 teachers and collaborators. We are an outgoing university, with a strong social sense and awarding scholarships and prizes to more than 20% of our students. We are particularly proud of our work with young people in social and economic fragility, migrants and refugees, supported under the Pope Francis Fund.

The university is, by definition, a place of search, dialogue and welcome. In the face of realities marked by exclusion and inequality, in a time of uncertainty, the university stands as a guardian of hope, which means promoting the capacity to dream, helping to discern, listening to the voices around us, listening to the time and intervening in it, defending the dignity of women and men and believing in their capacity for transformation. In our work, we combine the search for knowledge in favour of improving the human condition, ethical discernment that guides the possibility of choosing and acting, the cultivation of beauty and aesthetic gesture that is also a search for meaning in the world. The university is therefore a curator of knowledge, a philosopher of action and a manager of beauty.

The Holy Father, in the Encyclical Laudato si’, invites us “to think of one world with a common project” (Laudato si’, 164) and to welcome the world as a “sacrament of communion” (Laudato si’, 9). Science and research require mutual recognition and the ability to transform and transcend, in a community and collaborative engagement. Our proposal is rich in values because it stems from a specific Christian humanist vision of existence. But to honour this tradition, we must constantly challenge ourselves. The university does not exist to preserve itself as an institution, but to respond with courage to the challenges of the present and the future. And so it will always be a project, never a finished work.

The launch of the new Campus Veritati of the Universidade Católica Portuguesa, whose first stone His Holiness will bless, extends the welcoming space of our campus, open to the world, to listening and to hope. At this significant moment, we also dedicate to you a gesture of beauty with the gift of the sculpture ‘Lady with a book’, by the sculptor Manuel Rosa, and we offer you knowledge by announcing the creation of the new Chair “Economy of Francesco and Clare”, dedicated to hosting transversal initiatives in all areas of knowledge of the UCP, aimed at promoting the principles of the Economy of Francesco and developing a social model that dignifies people and the environment.

Pope Francis, thank you for the generosity with which you inspire us in our mission. We pray for you. And thank you for your fraternal affection for the protagonists of the future, the young people who are gathering these days in Lisbon and whose voices we will now hear.

No more separation between hard and social science in the age of Artificial Intelligence

Catholic Universities look with trust to the role of AI following the conference “The Future of Catholic Universities in the AI Age,” organized by the international network SACRU and hosted at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan, on 13-14 July. Università Cattolica Vice-Rector, Prof. Pier Sandro Cocconcelli, confirmed as Secretary-General of SACRU



Humanists will have to learn mathematics because Artificial Intelligence will revolutionize their disciplines. There are so many implications that AI is already having on the world, and the Strategic Alliance of Catholic Research Universities has chosen to dedicate its first Scientific Colloquium, held in the Milan campus of Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore on 13-14 July, to the role of academic institutions in the age of Artificial Intelligence.

More than eighty professors and researchers from Chile, Spain, Australia, the USA, and other countries around the world, together with the eight Rectors and President of the SACRU Universities, came together to discuss how the knowledge and research activities of the Universities in the network can be brought together to help society tackle one of the great challenges facing the world today. The international conference was opened by the keynote lecture of Cardinal José Tolentino de Mendonça, Prefect of the Dicastery for Culture and Education. The plenary sessions were chaired and coordinated by Antonella Sciarrone Alibrandi, Full Professor at Università Cattolica and Undersecretary of the same Dicastery.

«In these days, we have hosted a Scientific Colloquium on Artificial Intelligence in Milan that addressed the topic not only from a technological point of view and potential social impact,» Prof. Pier Sandro Cocconcelli, Vice Rector at Università Cattolica and reconfirmed as Secretary-General of the SACRU network for the next three years, said. «It also focused on how universities will react to a context change characterizing the educational sector nationally and globally. The eight Universities share a common mission and vision: to educate the younger generations and to produce research that has a true impact on society. To pursue these goals, SACRU has developed a five-year- strategy that includes strong cooperation among the eight Universities.

Marco Carlo Passarotti, Full Professor of Computational Linguistics at Università Cattolica, emphasized the need to educate on Artificial Intelligence, even before involving tools such as ChatGPT in educational processes, in the speech that closed the Colloquium: «This AI education needs to be included in any educational curriculum as early as primary school, to bridge the gap between highly skilled professionals and society. Universities must support primary education on AI with skills and tools.»

This also implies an internal reflection within universities on how to align their teaching curricula with the needs of the job market, increasingly shaped by the spread of Artificial Intelligence: «To support their graduates with the right skills and knowledge, it is mandatory to no longer have disciplinary boundaries and to launch interdisciplinary degree courses and master’s degrees,» Passarotti reiterated.

For example, the humanities can become experimental disciplines thanks to AI: «Humanists have always made use of data,» Passarotti noted, «but they have never had such a large amount of data at their fingertips and such a quality of massive processing. This computational breakthrough does not remove the role of humans; yet, it is a new challenge for them: it puts data and correlations between data in their hands like never before. And it makes their work replicable. No more separation between Humanities and Science disciplines: AI is an opportunity for multidisciplinarity.»

For the Universities of SACRU, Artificial Intelligence does not threaten humans but instead enables them to achieve a greater understanding of themselves and the world, if used correctly. And this is why it is crucial to promote a vision of AI as a catalyst for improving human potential: «Universities have always had a profound influence on individuals and society. Now, universities must play this role to meet the challenge of the necessary evolution of AI towards an approach that puts humans at the center. And Catholic universities have a strong duty to inform about the impact of AI, making it crucial to recognize and harness that impact to steer AI development towards an approach that is willing to respect human dignity, to avoid delegating moral responsibility to machines,» Passarotti concluded.

The outcome of these two valuable days of discussion will be a position paper to be published by the end of the year, which will formalize the Universities’ positions and proposals on the central tasks of universities, i.e. teaching, research and service to society, and how to adapt them to the age of Artificial Intelligence.

SACRU Governing Board meeting held in Milan 

The Governing Board of the Strategic Alliance of Catholic Research Universities (SACRU) met on Friday, July 14, 2023, at 9:30 a.m. at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan, under the chairmanship of SACRU President and Australian Catholic University Vice-Chancellor and President Prof. Zlatko Skrbis.

Prof. Pier Sandro Cocconcelli, Vice Rector of Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, was confirmed as the Secretary-General of SACRU for the term 2023-2026.


University and AI, Cardinal Tolentino:
«Renewal and Awareness to Win the Challenge of Algor-Ethics»

Artificial Intelligence has the same innovative power as the transition from orality to writing. Being able to channel this innovation towards the common good is one of the great challenges of our time, and universities are at the forefront. This is a topic on which the Strategic Alliance of Catholic Research Universities has been working for some time with its multidisciplinary approach.

Cardinal José Tolentino de Mendonça, Prefect of the Dicastery for Culture and Education of the Holy See, emphasized the need for the renewal to face the new challenges posed by reality while firmly maintaining awareness of one’s own identity and origin. The international meeting is organized by the SACRU network and hosted today and tomorrow at the Milan campus of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart.

Artificial Intelligence is a sector that, as highlighted by Zlatko Skrbis, President of SACRU and the Australian Catholic University, in his opening speech of the first plenary session of the two-day event, will grow by 38% by 2030, with its global market predicted to be worth over $1.5 trillion. This rapid and constant growth will revolutionize every aspect of our daily life, including education, medicine, work, and the fight against climate change.

«Personally, I believe that we should not fear new technology tools but learn to use innovations wisely to build new educational and research paths- said Franco Anelli, Rector of the Università Cattolica-. The major global challenges of our time have prompted the urgent need to formulate new models of thought […] One of the main strengths of the activities of SACRU in these three years has been the criteria of multidisciplinarity. […] This is very important because, as we know, in his encyclical letter Laudato Si’, Pope Francis called for a virtuous dialogue between different disciplines to strengthen the impact of science for the common good».

This is the common thread guiding the work of the plenary and parallel sessions of the conference, which will conclude tomorrow with a preview of the network’s Position Paper on the topic of AI. Anelli emphasized, «I am confident that this Scientific Colloquium will not be only an occasion for examining the benefits and risks of a particular technology. On the contrary, I hope it will address Catholic Universities’ fundamental purposes and aspirations ina technologically advanced society. Universities must be open to innovation».

In order to achieve this and make a real impact, all educational institutions must be willing to take risks, particularly when it comes to addressing the future, which is most prominently embodied by Artificial Intelligence in our present time. «Risk, we know well, is inseparable from an educational context worthy of its name – said Tolentino-.  Reasonable risk is, for example, in the present context, to keep priorities duly safeguarded: the priority of the ethical over the technical, the primacy of the person over things».

Therefore, it becomes necessary to choose where to focus, and for Cardinal Tolentino, the path is clear: «The great investment to be made can only be a human one, that is, an investment in the formation of every member of the human family so that they may develop their cognitive, creative, spiritual and ethical potential and thus contribute, in a qualified way, to the common good. The big question behind artificial intelligence continues to be anthropological». Tolentino, referring to the words of the Holy Father, emphasized that the true frontier will increasingly be that of algor-ethics: Artificial Intelligences are not neutral but require intermediate social bodies that represent the ethical sensitivity of researchers, educators, and scientists. The technological world is becoming increasingly complex, and this aspect cannot be left to the sensitivity of individuals alone.

In such a broad challenge that concerns all academic institutions and the entire world and may seem discouraging at first glance, Catholic universities have one certainty: the trust radiated by the Christian promise. «Those who inhabit the university world cannot afford not to have hope. Hope is our mission. It is not superficial optimism, but it is knowing how to risk in the right way» concluded Tolentino.

Scientific Colloquium
The Future of Catholic Universities in the AI age

13-14 July 2023, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

The 2023 Scientific Colloquium aimed to provide a platform to reflect on the role of SACRU Universities in addressing the challenges in the AI age and to engage a high number of members of the SACRU academic communities, including the younger generation of researchers. It was opened on the morning of Thursday, July 13, by Prof. Franco Anelli, Rector of Università Cattolica, followed by a keynote lecture by Cardinal José Tolentino de Mendonça, Prefect of the Dicastery for Culture and Education, and an introduction by Prof. Zlatko Skrbis, the President of SACRU.

The multidisciplinary initiative involved different disciplines in the discussion on the impact of AI on universities. The Colloquium was organized in plenary sessions, which included a keynote speaker from each SACRU University, and two parallel sessions (AI, Education & Research; AI, Universities within Society) in which the issues presented by the plenary speakers were further addressed.

The outcome of these two valuable days of discussion will be a position paper to be published by the end of the year, which will formalize the Universities’ positions and proposals on the central tasks of universities, i.e. teaching, research and service to society, and how to adapt them to the age of Artificial Intelligence.

SACRU International Relations Directors met
at the NAFSA Conference in Washington DC

The SACRU Delegation

On May 30, 2023, the International Relations Directors of the eight Universities partner of the Alliance met in Washington DC during the 75th NAFSA Annual Conference & Expo. NAFSA, the world’s largest association dedicated to international education and exchange, has welcomed educators from more than 100 nations to discuss themes such as the role of international education in addressing social, economic, and environmental justice, the local, national, and global advocacy for community engagement and impact and model practices for virtual, in-person, hyflex, and hybrid program design and delivery.

The meeting of SACRU IR Directors was an excellent opportunity for networking that showed the international dimension of the Alliance. The group had a wide-ranging discussion about respective institutions and convened to hold regular contacts.

Conference on Innovation, Sustainability, and Regeneration
Call for Papers/Extended Abstracts



Call for Papers/Extended Abstracts | Submission deadline: 17 July 2023

The INSURE.hub, a partnership between Católica Porto Business School, Faculty of Biotechnology and Planetiers New Generation, is organizing the third Innovation, Sustainability and Regeneration international conference, to be held on UCP Porto campus on November 16-17, 2023.

The aim of the conference is to bring together students, researchers, and professionals of the industry to discuss topics related to innovation, sustainability, and regeneration. We intend to prepare a program that aims to be at the forefront in the international landscape, having the contribution of professionals and leaders that have been directly involved in disruptive, circular, sustainable and/or regenerative innovation processes applied in practice.


Manuela Veloso (Head of J.P. Morgan AI Research & Herbert A. Simon University Professor in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University)


Authors are requested to electronically submit a full paper or an extended abstract. Papers/extended abstracts must be in English and clearly define the objectives, methodology, findings and significance of the investigation or study, and should clearly identify the names and affiliation of all authors. To submit the paper/extended abstract in pdf use the email: insure.hub@ucp.pt, with the subject “3rd INSURE Conference: Abstract Submission”.

The deadline for submission is July 17, 2023. The authors of accepted papers will be notified by September 17, 2023.

SCIENTIFIC COMMITTEE: The members of the conference Scientific Committee are: Alexandra Leitão (Católica Porto Business School); António Vasconcelos (Planetiers New Generation); Célia Manaia (Faculty of Biotechnology); Cristina Sá (School of Artes); João Cortez (Faculty of Biotechnology); João Pinto (Católica Porto Business School); Luís Rochartre (Planetiers New Generation); Manuela Pintado (Faculty of Biotechnology); Patrícia Moreira (School of Artes); Patrícia Oliveira-Silva (Faculty of Education and Psychology); Raquel Carvalho (Faculty of Law – Porto School); Ricardo Ribeiro (Católica Porto Business School).

CONFERENCE CO-CHAIRS: António Vasconcelos (Planetiers New Generation); João Pinto (Católica Porto Business School); Manuela Pintado (Faculty of Biotechnology).

CONFERENCE STRUCTURE: papers/extended abstracts will be selected for presentations in plenary sessions over the day on November 16. A set of additional papers/extended abstracts will be selected for presentation in a Poster format. On November 17, before the keynote speech, participants are invited to attend case studies presentations by INSURE’s business partners.

TOPICS: The conference is calling for high-quality and original research or case studies on topics including (but not limited to):

  • Innovation and business transformation;
  • Disruptive innovation;
  • Circular economy;
  • Leadership & governance for sustainability;
  • Sustainable business strategy;
  • Social entrepreneurship and responsible business;
  • Sustainability literacy and education;
  • Sustainable investment and financing;
  • Challenges owing to the impact of climate change;
  • Climate risk management;
  • Laws and regulations related to sustainability.

BEST PRESENTATION AWARD: the best presentation (taking as criteria the scientific quality, innovation, and performance) will be awarded with a prize of 1,000 euros.



Rectors of URL, UCP, UC Chile, and PUC Rio met
at the Universia Summit


Seven hundred rectors from 14 countries worldwide met in Valencia, Spain, for the 5th International Rectors’ Meeting organized by Universia. Under the “University and Society” title, the meeting focused on analyzing the challenges faced by higher education. Specifically, there was a debate on the great challenge for universities to lead and collaborate in the technological and social transformations that must facilitate social progress. 

During the meeting, the Rectors of Universitat Ramon Llull, Prof. Josep. A Rom, Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Prof. Isabel Capeloa Gil, UC Chile, Prof. Ignacio Sánchez Díaz and PUC Rio, Prof. Anderson Antonio Pedroso, S.J. had the opportunity to exchange views on SACRU. The four rectors took advantage of the meeting to share the good results of the Alliance and reaffirm the great work being done to foster global cooperation among research-intensive Catholic universities to advance knowledge and higher education for the common good.