When José Sols, Ph.D., began designing the course known as Sustainability Strategies: Integral Ecology and Business, he knew that it would be important to focus on conservation of the environment, business ethics and corporate social responsibility. Dr. Sols also understood that it would be critical to inspire the young professionals enrolled in the class – all of whom are pursuing a Master of Business Administration at Le Moyne’s Madden School of Business – to think about their work differently. After all, the 2020s have been referred to by many experts as the “deciding decade,” the point at which humanity will either come together address the climate change crisis – or won’t. The students enrolled in the Integral Ecology and Business will play a critical role in shaping the future, not just of the organizations that employ them, but of the communities they call home.
Dr. Sols knows how critical it is for business to be conducted in such a way that people, planet and profit are on equal footing. He served as the chair of ethics and Christian thought at the Jesuit IQS School of Management (Ramon Llull University) in Barcelona, Spain, for 20 years before moving with his family to Mexico City, Mexico, where he served as chair of the Department of Religion at another Jesuit institution, Universidad Ibero-Americana. Dean of the Madden School of Business Jim Joseph ’83 invited Dr. Sols to teach a one-credit summer class that brought him to Le Moyne for a week. (There is a triple alliance between Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City, IQS, Barcelona and Le Moyne College. Dean Joseph lectured at iberoamericana in 2014 and 2019, and Le Moyne has sent several of its students to study at IQS, with four headed to the univeresity this fall.) During his time on campus, he encouraged his students to immerse themselves in the Integral Ecology Project, which was promoted by Pope Francis in his 2015 environmental encyclical, Laudato Si’, and which has become an important means of reshaping how people think about business and the natural world. They also studied the late theologian Hans Küng’s project, World Ethic, and the ways in which the Society of Jesus has engaged in social justice and ecology over the last decades.
Over the course of the class, Dr. Sols’ students came to understand how interconnected the world truly is. They discovered that what are sometimes thought of as discreet environmental, social or migrant crises are actually part of one large anthropological crisis. But most important, they learned that addressing this crisis will require them to rethink their relationships to their work, the environment and one another. That will require the commitment to justice and collaboration that lies at the very heart of a Jesuit education. As Dr. Sols put it: “We have to resist what Pope Francis called ‘throw-away culture.”