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Global Economy & Cultures Project

After ten years of research and hard work, GEC is wrapping up and publishing Development, Values and the Meaning of Globalization: A Grassroots Approach. Download the E-Book here!

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Project Description

gec1 Gasper Lo Biondo, S.J. co-director of the GEC Project, speaks to International Development Certificate candidates at Georgetown University

The Global Economy and Cultures project is a collaborative research effort involving more than 50 Jesuit Social Research and Action Centers around the world, using the “raw materials” of narrative stories of specific, mostly poor, individuals and their communities as they were touched by economic globalization in recent decades. Focusing on major decisions the protagonists of the narratives made as they encountered the forces of the global economy, the project discerns the values and creativity that guided these decisions in the belief that this motivation could be garnered into sustainable economic development that takes account of the poor’s own values and culture. The project is based on the Ignatian method of discernment, stresses the ethical responsibility of all development actors, and envisions communities and social centers entering into partnerships with other development agents such as government, business, and NGOs.

GEC & the Jesuit Mission

The Global Economy and Cultures project responds both to a need formally recognized by the Jesuits in 1995 and a more practical need recognized by Jesuit social research and action centers throughout the world. At the 34th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, participants recognized that:

The globalization of the world economy and society proceeds at a rapid pace...[and while it] can produce many benefits, it can also result in injustices on a massive scale...In justice, we must counter this by working to build up a world order of genuine solidarity, where all can have a rightful place at the banquet of the Kingdom. (General Congregation 34, n.56)

At the same time, Jesuit social research and action centers throughout the world were recognizing new local "tensions" or social problems that many associate with global phenomena, including clear signs of an accelerating deterioration in the standard of living of the rural and urban poor. Jesuit centers were encountering new strains on their grassroots development programs, but at the same time were recognizing that creative ways of renewing local cultures were emerging. The Global Economy and Cultures project is the collaborative effort of Jesuit centers throughout the world that responds to these needs through grassroots adult education and empowerment for greater economic self determination.

Project Methodology

gec1Participants in GEC's 2003 International Consultation

The thinking behind the Global Economy and Cultures project is rooted in the insight that both local and global actors face ethical choices and have ethical responsibilities in the development process. In order to make sound ethical choices and carry out ethical responsibilities, "development actors" require a fuller understanding of the roles, interests and values of the other "actors" involved in the process of development. "Development actors" refer to those who contribute to full human and social development, who work or "act" in the private, public, and civil sectors of society in areas related to those illustrated in the original narrative cases. This insight is fundamental to the purpose of the GEC project, which seeks to empower local actors through a fuller understanding of the interplay between global economic processes and local cultures. This understanding includes an appreciation of the interests and values of the global and local actors involved in these instances.

The research and data processing carried out by the participants in the Global Economy and Cultures project is rooted in the Ignatian method of prayerful discernment: "a constant interplay between experience, reflection, decision, and action, [which are] in line with the Jesuit ideal of being 'contemplative in action.'" (GC 32, D.4, n.73). The methodological framework of the Global Economy and Cultures project consists of drawing on the true experience the participants have with the poor, reflecting on this experience through focused questions and working consultations, making careful decisions from this research, and presenting the work and results of the project in an educational format, one that will enable others to put this research, reflection and work into action.