The 35th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus (GC 35) convened early in 2008 in Rome to focus on key topics related to preserving, protecting and advancing the mission of the Jesuits. Gonzaga University, as a Jesuit institution of higher learning, looks to the guidance of GC 35 in helping to determine its strategic priorities in the coming years.
Decree Three of GC 35, "Challenges in Our Mission Today: Sent to the Frontiers," and Decree Six, "Collaboration at the Heart of Mission," focus on engagement with an explicit call to "building a future in solidarity" for a globalized world. Decree Two, "A Fire that Kindles Other Fires: Rediscovering Our Charism," articulates what it means to be Jesuit.
The Colombian Twinning Agreement is a strategic implementation of GC 32 and GC 34 with respect to the service of faith in the promotion of justice. GC 35 takes these earlier congregational documents and expands the global apostolic Jesuit mission to include higher education and specifically the engagement of faculty, administration and staff in international settings. GC 35, and the Colombian Twinning Agreement, emphasize a need for our faculty and students to develop attitudes and values leading to engagement with the world through justice, civic engagement, collaboration, and through an awareness of the limits of our own perspectives.
The current initiatives being implemented at Gonzaga in partnership with our sister institutions in Colombia represent such diverse academic disciplines as law, writing/journalism, English-as-a-second-language, engineering, and communication arts. These initiatives are in direct alignment with our 2007 Institutional Strategic Plan, Vision 2012, and the University's educational mission.
Goal One in our strategic plan addresses the University's mission and emphasizes that we "continue to affirm its commitment to the Christian gospel values found in the Spiritual Exercises as the grounding and motivating experience for the Society of Jesus and all who work in partnership with the Jesuits.” As an apostolic agent and partner of the Oregon Provincial, Gonzaga University is assisting in the Society's ability to implements its Twinning Agreement with the Colombian Jesuit Provincial.
Goal Four in our strategic plan addresses our aspirations for Diversity at Gonzaga. One of the tactical tenets of this goal is to "provide opportunities for faculty and staff training focused on cultural awareness in the education-formation process and help faculty develop academic programs and enhance courses that are attractive to diverse populations." Certainly, the faculty exchange feature and the discipline-based programs of this Twinning agreement provide opportunities to fulfill parts of our strategic goal addressing diversity.
Goal Five in our strategic plan addresses global and international education and inspires us to "expand student, faculty, and staff participation in study-abroad programs with mission-related academic initiatives" and it also expects us to "establish faculty and staff exchange programs with international higher educational institutions and provide support for visiting faculty positions as a strategy to bring ethnically and culturally diverse faculty to campus."
After seven years of planning, developing and implementing our contribution toward animating the spirit and intent of this Twinning Agreement, it is time to provide intentional institutional support for what our faculty have been doing with their Colombian colleagues.