The International Association of Jesuit Business Schools (IAJBS) held its 17th annual world Forum in Lima, Peru July 17-20. Hosted by the Universidad del Pacifico (UP), the meeting brought together representatives from 35 universities (mostly Jesuit) from six continents around the world. The meeting had the theme of “Corporate Social Responsibility and Inclusive Business,” and panels and workshops had that theme. Two Albers faculty gave paper presentations consistent with those themes, Bill Weis and Meena Rishi (along with former student Samantha Galvin).
The conference took place at the UP campus. The campus is small, but they have cleverly intertwined their buildings, like a 3-d puzzle, to create open space for what is a very urban campus. The conference is an opportunity to meet deans from other universities and learn about their programs and interest in collaboration. Some of the schools that I talked to about collaboration were from such countries as Belgium, Uruguay, Colombia, and the US.
There was a presentation made on the Jesuit African Initiative, which is an effort to establish business schools in four African nations – Kenya, the Congo, Ivory Coast, and Rwanda/Burundi. African Jesuits have identified this as one of their greatest needs, and according to AACSB there are only 781business schools on the continent (none Jesuit) out of more than 13,000 worldwide. The initiative is just getting off the ground, with Fr. Ron Anton, SJ, the Secretary for Higher Education for the Society of Jesus, taking the lead in organizing it.
This seems like an important project for us to get involved in. The initiative is seeking a lead school for each of the four projects and a group of supporting schools, as well. I am thinking we want to go the supporting school route, and the one that makes the most sense to me initially is the Rwanda/Burundi project. It requires instruction in French (for Burundi) and English (for Rwanda), and the lead school has been identified as the University of Namur in Belgium. SU has been doing some exploration of work in Rwanda, and this may be a good vehicle for pushing this along. Of course, we need to look at all four projects, but because the language of instruction will be French in Ivory Coast and the Congo, Kenya is another option for us.
As the conference ended, I was elected to the IAJBS Board of Directors. I guess they are running out of people to ask. There are five members from four geographic areas – North America, South America, Asia, and Europe. I was assured that the board only meets face-to-face at the annual meeting (which is in Barcelona next year) and otherwise meets by teleconference. I’m not interested in a lot more out of town meetings!
After the conference, my wife and I flew to Cuzco to see Machu Picchu and other sites in the Sacred Valley. No disrespect to IAJBS and the host school, UP, but this was the highlight of the trip. Plus, the sun was out in Cuzco, while this time of year Lima is covered in a perpetual blanket of clouds.
We came to Peru and Machu Picchu 25 years ago for our honeymoon, so it was interesting to see how things have changed. The country is much stronger from an economic and political standpoint, and the biggest disappointment was the amount of traffic in Lima and Cuzco. That seems to be a negative that comes with economic progress. Consistent with the conference theme of sustainability, we need to solve that problem, not just in Seattle, but in urban areas around the world!