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University expert in

13/03/2008: General House

In the 1st Meeting of representatives of Marist institutions of tertiary education, which took place in Curitiba (Brazil) from 5th to 8th of November 2004, Brother John McMahon, on behalf of the mission Team for Oceania, presented the proposal for the creation of an International Institute of Marist Education, whose purpose would be the formation of Masterships and Doctorates in Marist education and leadership as well as encouraging research in those fields and later spreading it throughout the whole Institute.
The Commission of Mission of the General Council took on the coordination of a group of representatives of Marist Universities to study such a possibility, being in constant contact with the Team of Oceania already mentioned.

During the IInd Meeting of representatives of Marist institutions of tertiary education” which took place in Guadalajara (Mexico) from 9th to 12th of November 2006, Brothers Michael Green and Emili Turú presented the document Project to contribute to formation in Marist spirituality and mission at the international level, prepared by the previously mentioned group of representatives.

Defining lines of the project

The Marist way is a beautiful gift to the Church and its mission as it has constituted a truly effective means of evangelisation and education in the course of almost two hundred years. The challenge of the present day is how to form and support those who can be authentic Marist leaders, animators and educators. The context in which the Marist way must be travelled today is unheard of and is characterized by the internationalization of economic structures, the gradual substitution of national political concepts for others of an international nature and the tendency to the homogenization of cultures framing them in the global logic of the market place with a consequent radicalization of secularization. The ways of doing it will be different from those of the past, because those that are attracted towards the Marist way are as much women as men, lay as religious, adults as young people.

At the moment programmes of Marist formation are already being offered at local or provincial level, but they demonstrate the existence of new needs that can only be confronted with difficulty, if they are not being done at the global level of the whole Institute. It is clearly necessary that those who commit to the mission of the Institute, especially those who occupy positions of leadership directing our schools, universities and other Marist works, should feel more than just comfortable with the Marist way: he/she has to take ownership of it to be able to articulate it, to write and to speak about it and to be sure to inculcate it in others and in their society. Not only the leaders of the Marist projects, but also the Brothers and lay people who work at other levels in Marist institutions, as well as the Brothers who are in formation, need to have access to good quality programmes of spirituality and Marist mission.

Sharing resources in an international Institute

These needs, that have just been enumerated, are the same in all the administrative units of the Institute, but not all of them have the capacity to provide the human or material resources are required to give them an appropriate response. Therefore it is very useful to offer a solution on an international scale by means of the development and the implementation of programmes, courses and accreditations in Marist spirituality and mission supported by university institutions

In many countries, professionals look for courses and programmes, adapted to their situation or their work, where they can register during their sabbatical, or which can help them to complete the requirements of accreditation in their continuous formation. For example, there are countries where teachers must complete a certain number of approved studies every year to keep their educational licence. In other places it is customary, every so often, to assign formation time to the directors, and they should find the best way to make use of that time. On other occasions we have teachers who want to increment their degrees or diplomas by undertaking post-graduate studies, masters or doctorate programmes. If there were Marist options enabling these people to follow them in summer courses, on-line studies, intensive programmes in boarding schools credited with diplomas and university grades, then a response could be made to two needs: Marist educators could study Marists topics, and at the same time their own professional requirements would be satisfied.

Promoting research and its propagation

On the other hand, it is also necessary to promote continuous research, studies and essays on Marist spirituality and mission so that the spirit of Champagnat continues to be significant for today’s man, his culture and his problems. To do this in a truly effective way, it would be good to have an international group of Marist scholars who are in contact with each other and who can give each other mutual support, promoting new and attractive ways of expressing and presenting Marist spirituality and mission.
At the present time, good programmes already exist at local and provincial levels in enough parts of the Institute for the formation of formators, but not all administrative units have the necessary resources to offer these types of programmes, especially through a lack of people who have been prepared. Hence the urgency to prepare people who can become propagators in their own places of origin, promoting programmes of quality at local and provincial level. In the project that has been presented, the word formator is used in its wider sense, not just in the traditional one of formator of Marist Brothers.

To promote the sense of belonging to an international institution

A high level of institutional adhesion already exists in the Institute: usually Brothers and lay people feel proud to belong to an institution such as ours, with a present and clear mission, and marial spirituality, close to people’s lives. Nevertheless, we have been an international Institute for more than a century, and we have not always acted as one. In this time of globalisation, we feel the need to make use of the resources that are available at this time and to place them at the service of the mission.

Coordination of the General Administration

The needs pointed out until now apply to everyone: they affect the whole Institute, to a greater or lesser extent. Hence the importance of the General Administration’s intervention in facilitating the coordination of the initiatives as well as spreading them. On the other hand, a suggestion coming from the General Administration has added credibility, which is an important aspect when dealing with new initiatives.
The answer to all of these perceived needs can be arrived at from different viewpoints. The proposal considers the possibility of offering a coordinated action within the Marist institutions of tertiary education.

The motive for the proposal was studied in small work groups and after a general sharing of the observations produced during the reflection, the initiative was approved by acclamation.
In order for the proposal to be efficient, it was considered necessary to obtain formal approval of the project from the General Council, since it was a proposal which would benefit the whole of the Congregation. The General Council, having considered the project, accepted the proposal to appoint a Commission and decided to ask for the cooperation of the following Institutions: University of Curitiba; University of Porto Alegre; the group of university Institutions of the Philippines; the Network of Universities of Mexico; the University School of Alcalá de Henares. Each one of them would recommend to the Commission a person qualified for the work. At the same time the members of the Commission of Mission of the General Council were asked to take on the responsibility for convening and coordinating the tasks of this group of five people. The group consisted of Brothers Emili Turú, Juan M. Anaya, Juan R. Alegre (Alcalá) and Evilazio Texeira (Porto Alegre), Mr. Ricardo Tescarolo (Curitiba) and Mr. Jaime Nieto (Querétaro). The Universities of the Philippines were unable to contribute anyone due to various health problems. The group has held two meetings: Porto Alegre (Brazil), from 24th to 28th August 2007 and Rome (Italy), from 17th to 19th February 2008, as well as intensive communication through the Internet.

“University expert in Marist mission, vision and educational principles.

The proposal that has been drawn up consists of the creation of a post-graduate degree (the applicant should already have a degree, masters or doctorate), granted by the Universities involved, called University expert in Marist mission, vision and educational principles . With this university degree it is hoped that the student will acquire the corresponding knowledge and adequate training and be able to develop the necessary competence to apply them, in a teaching environment and through research, with professional quality and with the capacity to adapt creatively to the continuous changes.

The specific purposes of this degree are: to form educators in the Marist spirituality which flows from Marcellin Champagnat, as a means of carrying on the educational mission adopted by the Marist Institute; to promote the knowledge of Marist pedagogical principles by studying in depth the ideology, the educational principles and the Marist style of living and educating, seeking how to adapt to the challenges and demands that are raised in the XXIst century; to promote the commitment of Marist educators to living their Christian vocation and to promote the setting up of true communities in educational centres and, finally, to share their own experiences with a view to encouraging the sense of ownership of an international institution.

To obtain the degree it will be necessary to study 10 credits ETCS (300 hours) of theoretical-practical content, to carry out a final written project (3 credits) and to attend a course in person(3 credits).
Both the theoretical-practical content and the completion of the final project will be compatible with professional activity, since they will impart and evaluate virtually, using as platforms the Internet and multimedia formats. The use of digital resources and documentation will be a priority.
The student will complete his formation by staying for 2 weeks (80 hours, equivalent to 3 credits) in LHermitage, in an international and multilingual context.
The students must be able to understand texts written in at least two of the following languages: French, English, Spanish, Portuguese and have a basic knowledge in using the computer and surfing the net.

The project will be presented to the General Council in June 2008 for the appropriate emendations and eventual approval and to the IIIrd Meeting of representatives of Marist institutions of tertiary education in Salamanca (November 2008). It is hoped to complete all the technical and developmental details as well as signing the corresponding agreements with the Universities, during the course of 2009, so it can be given in January of 2010.

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