The Director of the Economics and Management Department at the Sophia University Institute outlines the characteristics of the new Master’s program in Economics and Political Science.
Professor Gui, first of all why should a young person choose to study at the Sophia University Institute?
At a time when young people frequently lack the courage to aim at ideals for which they want to dedicate their lives, Sophia suggests that they base their vision of the world on a more profound respect for the human person (including their culture, religion, their ideas) and to look toward achieving a world without hatred, wars, oppression, margination, or dominance of some people over others. In economics, this doesn’t mean having a recipe ready to enact. Rather it means being able to look beyond the limited vision of economics and economic relationships that is prevalent today, notwithstanding the fact that scientific research has demonstrated that it is inadequate.
Why does Sophia have an advantage over other schools?
Sophia offers a course of study that unifies learning through listening, discussion, prepared texts and lectures, together with life experience. In the sense that, the same idea of being open to the other person, which is applied to the theory, is also lived immediately in the classroom, in the hallway, and in the activities of community life in the residences, where the students live a very important intercultural experience (we have students from 30 countries from 5 continents and different religions).
What are the recent developments?
Two new Master’s programs have opened, one in Trinitarian Ontology, with a philosophical and theological concentration, and one in Economics and Political Science (the use of English for the title is not by chance). It offers students a broad vision of the economic, political and social context where they will be working. With this as the basis, it proposes a variety of areas for in-depth study.
What does this mean specifically for economic studies?
Sophia offers one specialization in Humanistic Management and another in Economics and Philosophy. What we are attempting to accomplish, together with the students, is, on the one hand, provide them with those skills that are expected of a graduate in the field of economics, and on the other hand, an in-depth understanding of economics as was described above. This is done through research to study new trends and through contact with economic initiatives that are practicing these economic principles. These are topics frequently ignored during university studies.
How does what one learns in Sophia play out in the work environment?
Recruiters are always well aware that good understanding of the discipline is not sufficient for a young person to be a valid member of an organization. They need to be able to interact with those who come from different backgrounds, they need to know how to cooperate, they need to know to assume responsibility. The experience of these years has taught us that our students are valued not only for their book knowledge, but also for the talents they have developed through the experience at Sophia. We need to be careful, however: studies should not be aimed only at finding a job. It should also facilitate the growth of the person and, just as important, develop the capacity to take initiative both as an individual and as part of a group in the economic, political and social arenas.
Recently, Pope Francis warmly encouraged the idea of the Economy of Communion, upon which the academic degree of Sophia is based: what does IUS offer in this regard?
Pope Francis puts in question capitalism that today dominates the economic world. In fact, even when the objective is simply to make profit with the desire to harm anyone directly, often the end result is equally inhuman and discriminatory. This forces us to reflect on the limitations of an economic system that focuses exclusively on personal gain. We need economic institutions whose activities, beyond not doing direct harm to someone, is truly compatible with a world where all can live in dignity. In this regard, Sophia is not interested in making easy moralistic condemnations. Rather, we seek to understand what conditions are needed for the development of economic activities that do not produce “organically” masses of people who are marginalized or disposed of. As they pursue this reflection, IUS is able to draw from the experience of those who are committed to the idea of the Economy of Communion, who are experimenting with creative generosity economic practices that respond to the demands that Pope Francis expresses.