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Jesuit Commons: Higher Education at the Margins
March 02, 2012

Jesuit Commons: Higher Education at the Margins
JC:HEM works with Jesuit Refugee Service, which has enabled more than 250 refugees to study courses online and on-site in partnership with a global network of Jesuit universities. (Jesuit Refugee Service)

(DENVER) March 2, 2012 — Some of the brightest and innovative leaders of Jesuit Catholic higher education from around the globe will be among more than 110 attendees at the first Jesuit Commons: Higher Education at the Margins (JC:HEM) international 'think tank' March 5-8 at Regis University, designed to envision and chart the future of a program that for the past two years has been providing online education to refugees in Kenya, Malawi, and Syria.

JC:HEM is an initiative of the Society of Jesus that brings Jesuit higher education to those at the margins of our society. JC:HEM works with Jesuit Refugee Service, which has enabled more than 250 refugees to study courses online and on-site in partnership with a global network of Jesuit universities. Those refugees can earn a diploma in liberal studies and pursue community service learning tracks for a certificate of completion that benefit daily life in the camps.

The focus and desired outcome of the meeting is to expand the vision and outreach of JC:HEM, to empower those at the very edges of our societies through access to Jesuit higher education so that together we may foster hope to create a more peaceful and humane world, notes Steve Jacobs, assistant vice president for Academic Affairs at Regis University and conference chair.

Among the attendees are Vincent Cochetel, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees  regional representative for the U.S. and Caribbean; Fr. Michael Garanzini, S.J., president of Loyola University Chicago and secretary of Higher Education for the Jesuits; "Heroic Leadership" author and Jesuit Commons President Chris Lowney; Peter Balleis, S.J., international director of the Jesuit Refugee Service; Michael A. Evans, S.J., National Director of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA; author Paul Nakai who will facilitate the conference; Fr. Gregory Lucey, S.J., president of the Association of Jesuit Catholic Universities (AJCU); Fr. Charlie Currie, S.J., former AJCU president; and Mary McFarland, international director of JC:HEM and a Gonzaga University professor.

The agenda begins with a pre-conference on March 5-6 which focuses on current JC:HEM education programs in Kenya, Malawi and Syria, and will offer development and problem-solving discussions on topics such as curriculum, Ignatian pedagogy, human and fiscal resources, organizational structures, and technology. The main portion begins March 6 with the first of two keynote presentations.  

Father Garanzini will give the first keynote, titled "The 450-Year Jesuit Mission at the Margins" at 7:30 p.m. March 6 in the St. John Francis Regis Chapel. Cochetel will give the second keynote, "Lives at the  Margins – The United Nations Looks at the Future" at 9 a.m. March 7 in the St. John Francis Regis Chapel. 

Through a myriad of presentations, fishbowl discussions, videos, and large and small group conversations, a bevy of experts will lead attendees as they discuss topics ranging from emerging themes and reflections and implications of their calling, to the collective wisdom of how things began and what they have learned.

The conference also features two special exhibits: photographer Fr. Don Doll, S.J.'s exhibit of his photographs of refugees; David Yunger, CEO of GreenBridge Computing and consultant with Microsoft Partners in Learning, will display multi-point servers his company uses in emerging markets worldwide to enable digital access and education capacity in the developing world.

Representatives will also be attending from Jesuit Refugee Service, the Pontificia Universita Gregoriana in Rome, Hekima College in Nairobi, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, St. Joseph’s University Lebanon, Deusto University Spain, Asociacion de Universidades Confiadas a la Compañia de Jesus en America Latina, Australian Catholic University, Jesuit Refugee Tertiary Education Committee Australia, Catholic University of South Sudan, Institute of Advanced Technology Kenya, St. Xavier’s College Mumbai, Catholic University of Argentina, Universidad Iberoamericana Mexico, Entreculturas, Universidad Alberto Hurtado, Universidad Catolica del Uruguay, Center for Research and Action in Peace in Ivory Coast, Microsoft; Internet 2, GreenBridge Computing, and Jesuits from as far away as Zimbabwe, Kenya, Thailand, South Africa, Latin America, Australia, Europe, and India.

According to Jacobs, each participant has been individually invited for his or her expertise, wisdom and vision of the future.

In addition to Regis University, other Jesuit Catholic Universities are involved with JC:HEM include Boston College, Canisius University, College of the Holy Cross, Creighton University, Fairfield University, Fordham University, Georgetown University, Gonzaga University, LeMoyne College, Loyola University Chicago, Loyola University New Orleans, Marquette University, Seattle University, St. Joseph’s University, St. Louis University, St. Peter’s College University of San Francisco, Wheeling Jesuit University and Xavier University.

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