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Abhijit Roy

Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship as Catalysts for Social Justice: Roots in Ignatian Pedagogy and Jesuit Ideals

The term, “social justice” was coined almost two centuries ago (in the 1840s) by a Jesuit, Luigi Taperelli d’Azeglio, based on the teachings of Thomas Aquinas, and has remained a prominent part of Ignatian pedagogy. The primary goal of this article is to see how the meaning of the term has evolved over the years, and more crucially how social innovation and entrepreneurship have dovetailed into this concept. Social justice continues to be a critical component of Ignatian pedagogy. As the then Superior General, Fr. Pedro Arupe noted in his 1973 address, Jesuit education needs to reeducate for justice so our students become agents of change. Such work should include uplifting the vulnerable, not profiting from our position of privilege, and dismantling unjust social structures. Moreover, social entrepreneurship also has deep roots in Jesuit ideals. The first to encourage this practice may have been Fr. Francis Xavier, who encouraged the Society’s participation in a limited form of social entrepreneurship. In 1548, in seeking funds to make his epochal voyage to Japan, he wanted to rector of the new Jesuit college in Goa, India (later Old St. Paul’s) to invest in textiles in Bassein, India. He expected the cloth to be sold at fivefold profits in the islands that the mission would be visiting which would enable them to cover their costs. On the surface, this might appear to be in conflict with canon law and the Society’s own principles, but Francis Xavier (and many other Jesuits after him) that the goal of the system was not animo lucrandi (profits for the sake of profits), but rather charitatis or pius (earnings intended for charitable or pious purposes). Over the next few centuries, the Jesuits participated in some form of trading in most places they evangelized. This included silk trade in the Orient, sandal wood commerce in Macao, cloth, pepper and gem trades in India, sugar and forest products trade in Brazil amongst others. One of the four Universal Apostolic Priorities that the Society of Jesus has recently identified for the next decade (2019-2029) is to “follow together with the poor in promoting social justice and promoting change of economic, political and social structures that generate injustice.” By examining initiatives by the Jesuits such as the Fr. John Foley’s Cristo Rey Jesuit High School Program (Kabadi 2015), Homeboy Industries by Fr. Greg Boyle (Boyle 2011), Fr. George Hess’s De Nobili Schools in India (Hess 2011), and other programs, this paper will examine how social innovation & entrepreneurship continues to be a critical component of social justice. Selected References Boyle, Greg. (2011). Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion. New York: Simon and Schuster. Hess, George A. (2011). Once Upon a Time, New Delhi: Jaico Publications. Kabadi, Sajit U. (2015). "The Jesuit social justice dialectic within the Cristo Rey school model." Journal of Catholic Education 19, no. 1: 183-200.