In Colombia, a school dedicated to governance and public ethics

At the Javeriana, the Jesuit University in Bogotá, we were intrigued by a programme of great relevance in the Colombian context. The Javeriana School of Government and Public Ethics (EJG) deals with subjects that could give food for thought for many other university departments around the world. We interviewed its director, the Jesuit Luis Fernando Álvarez Lodoño. A magistrate on the Constitutional Court and honorary member of the Colombian Academy of International Law, he is a man committed to the promotion of a rule of law that incorporates the human dimension.

Luis Fernando Álvarez, you are the director of a rather unusual “university school” at the Javeriana. How could you briefly present your project?

We conceived the Javeriana School of Government and Public Ethics to help deal with the pressing ethical challenges that have arisen and are growing in our society. These challenges include sustainable development, justice and democracy, the fight against corruption, human rights, digital transformation, cybersecurity, and many other issues with local, regional and global relevance. We want the School to provide a permanent forum where civil society, public opinion, the Church, academia, the government and international organisations can engage in dialogue. It is a place where people can study, analyse and develop models of governance and public policies with ethical values. This work is carried out through academic units of the Universidad Javeriana and in cooperation with national and international organisations.


Luis Fernando Álvarez Lodoño SJ.

Who are the students and what are their motivations? Are they mainly Colombian?

The School is a forum open to the global community, and it addresses relevant issues from a cutting-edge perspective. It has therefore attracted interest from all types of students and actors in the public and private sectors, mainly in Latin America. They have an earnest desire to generate knowledge and contribute to overcoming the crises of our societies.

Have you been especially interested in the work of the Comisión de la Verdad (Truth Commission) and its efforts to bring peace and reconciliation in Colombia?

The Universidad Javeriana has participated actively and continuously as a source of reflection and mediation in this endeavour, which has given us a better understanding of the conflict, its repercussions and potential avenues for reparation. The EJG takes this project as its starting point and seeks to promote dialogue among the actors of society. Our aim is to integrate into the dynamics of the post-agreement process the cultural values of the nation and a perspective of peace, with a strong commitment to a timely and transparent application of the law and the constitution.


In many countries, those involved in politics are seen in a negative light. Moreover, the democratic fabric has weakened in many parts of the world. How do you expect to reverse these trends?

We are aware of a shift in popular opinion toward distrust of democracy and the exercise of public office. We are therefore proposing debates centered on a practical philosophy that will help us to study the ontological basis of governance and ethics. Our aims are to strengthen democracy through participatory models that make problems visible and empower those affected, and to humanise the decisions that affect society in general. We have made a major commitment to education, access, transparency, collective control and ongoing development.

Systemic pressures and constraints often hamper good practices, but the EJG envisions a society where morals, ethics and high standards are the key principles of action and where the public sphere inspires commitment to a national project and a common destiny, not in response to coercion but with good will and a sense of belonging.


To conclude, how do you see your commitment in relation to Ignatian spirituality and the Universal Apostolic Preferences (UAP) that guide the Society of Jesus?

The EJG is inspired by the Mission Statement of the University: “[The Javeriana] aims to achieve the integral formation of persons who are outstanding for their human, ethical, academic and professional qualities; for their sense of social responsibility; and for their desire to create and develop knowledge and culture in a critical and innovative way. Such persons will seek to achieve a society that is just, sustainable, inclusive, democratic, fraternal and respectful of human dignity”. The fundamental principles that guide and give value to our work are commitment to reflection and discernment, appropriate formation, coordination of voices and perspectives, care of our common home and the visibility of all actors, particularly victims and minorities.

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Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles media relations.

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