I‘m often asked about the value of Jesuit Catholic education and what makes it unique from the student experience at other institutions of higher education. In short, we inspire minds and transform lives in long-lasting and deeply meaningful ways, and we teach our students this must be done ethically and with integrity.
Jesuit education has been transforming the world for 464 years. It has significantly impacted society through the millions of men and women who’ve enrolled at the approximately 160 institutions of higher education governed by the Society of Jesus throughout the world. These institutions, and specifically John Carroll University, integrate social responsibility with rigorous academic standards. Fundamental to that responsibility is a genuine concern for the implications of ethical decision making in the fields in which our alumni work – business, education, social work, law, public service, advocacy, medicine, and the arts.
Business ethics, for example, is highly compatible with Ignatian spirituality, which works to develop the moral and spiritual character of individuals and is incorporated and integrated into the traditional themes of leadership, management, and disciplinary skills. To continue developing conscientious leaders, we continue to teach the evaluation of values with the help of business communities worldwide.
Considering our increasingly complex, contemporary society, issues involving business ethics, social ethics, and bioethics are vital to our evolving curriculum. Every generation wrestles with profound ethical issues of their time, and this one is no different. Carroll graduates, who are held to a high standard, are prepared to deal with these issues. They’re expected to integrate critical reasoning with an ethical perspective that leads to serving others and a commitment to help cultivate a more just and humane world.
As our alumni pursue their personal and professional goals for the common good, many of them understand some ends don’t justify the means and unjust means shouldn’t be used to pursue a just end. When alumni evaluate these types of circumstances, we expect them to employ their ethical training. So as we continue to make a difference in the world, we must steep ourselves in longstanding, Ignatian-based principles and virtues that have been positively influencing people for hundreds of years.
In an increasingly secular world, sometimes the line between ethical and unethical choices is blurred and crossed even when we take the time to reflect on the ethical nature of our choices. Our strong commitment to ethics, academic excellence, and a faith focused on justice produces competent leaders of intellect, conscience, and character. Our alumni are the best proof of that.
Yours in Christ,
Robert L. Niehoff, S.J.