In a highly competitive global business environment, the temptation to overlook the vocation of the business person is ubiquitous. But just as philosophical and theological foundations are critical for the formation of clergy and religious life, so too are the humanities necessary in the formation of the business person. With this keen sense of the proper formation of business people, the John A. Ryan Institute for Catholic Social Thought of the Center for Catholic Studies co-sponsored the Eighth International Conference on Catholic Social Thought and Management Education: “Renewing Mission and Identity in Catholic Business Education,” held at the University of Dayton June 18-20, 2012.

The Ryan Institute started convening these conferences in 1996 at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. The conferences have generated close to 500 papers on the topic, which can be accessed at www.stthomas.edu/cathstudies/cst/conferences. These gatherings have begun to build a community of Christian scholars and practitioners from across disciplines who reflect, discuss and debate the meaning of a Catholic university and its business education.

In his opening remarks of the conference, Brother Ray Fritz, Ferree Professor of Social Justice from the University of Dayton, said “… our purpose of being here together is to focus on raising up a generation of business leaders by energizing and by sustaining our efforts to develop mission-driven education in our Catholic universities.” With this purpose in mind, 160 participants representing 22 countries and 80 institutions and various Christian faith perspectives explored how Catholic universities revitalize their cultures and deepen their missions and identities by sharing ideas on processes, various models and curriculum.

One highlight of the conference was the opening plenary remarks by Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, who officially presented a new Vatican document “Vocation of the Business Leader: A Reflection.” (See related story on Page 33.) After Cardinal Turkson’s address, 71 papers were presented in concurrent and plenary sessions on disciplines, which included management, philosophy, law, corporate governance, finance, accounting, theology, marketing and economics with the goal of generating ideas on how to strengthen and renew Catholic business education. All the plenary sessions can be viewed and all papers from the conference can be downloaded at www.stthomas.edu/dayton.

The Ninth International Conference on Catholic Social Thought and Management Education will be held at De La Salle University in Manila, Philippines, in 2014. Email Mary Kay O’Rourke, mkorourke@stthomas.edu, for more information.

Read more from Perspectives.