Educating to Work For and With Others

Responding to: Catholic, Jesuit Higher Education and the Future of Global Development

By: Taro Komatsu

April 6, 2015

Universities are at the forefront of educating and training future global leaders. Global public service leaders are required to be sensitive and attentive to those voices that are often marginalized. Such a leadership quality is important given the overwhelming power imbalance existing in the globalized world. Universities are uniquely positioned to address this challenge. Today’s world leaders were trained in higher education institutes. The university’s influence on mental and practical capacity cannot be underestimated as youths spend their formative years in these institutions. It is in universities that youths discuss freely and reflect deeply on ethical issues. It is here that young people learn to appreciate the importance of “listening to others.”

Sophia University in Japan was founded on the Catholic social thought premise to educate young people to work in the spirit of “men and women for others and with others.” When President John J. DeGioia of Georgetown University recently visited Sophia University, he showed his appreciation of Sophia’s spirit by stressing the uniqueness of “with others” inserted in the institution’s motto. In order to promote development in a fair and equitable manner, one needs to accept and embrace diverse ways of life and listen to the voices of those receiving help. We need to work not just “for them” but also “with them.”

To this end, universities should strive to create innovative teaching methods and learning environments where one learns to be humble, to listen to and work with those in need. Such training may not be accomplished in a traditional classroom setting alone. Active learning in the field with sufficient time for reflection is another way of achieving this goal. Universities should also provide students with opportunities to understand diverse perspectives and enhance their intercultural learning. For this purpose, the global network of Catholic universities, such as Sophia, can be utilized.

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Educating to Work For and With Others