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October 17, 2019

The Jesuits in China: Models of Intercultural Dialogue

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Since the time of the missionary Matteo Ricci, S.J. (1552-1610), the Society of Jesus has actively engaged with Chinese culture and society. The Jesuits' historical appreciation of Chinese language, philosophy, and customs has informed a model of intercultural encounter with many variations and different levels of success over time. On October 17, 2019, under the auspices of the China Forum for Intercultural Dialogue, the Beijing Center organized a public seminar to explore the historical trajectory of Jesuit engagement in China and its relevance for today's world.

Moderator Thomas Banchoff (Georgetown University) and panelists Benoit Vermander, S.J. (Fudan University), Simon Koo (Beijing Center), and Fangfang Ji (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences), engaged three related questions: What have been core characteristics of Jesuit models of intercultural dialogue with China? What factors explain the success and failure of those models over the past five centuries? What is the relevance of the Jesuit approach to intercultural dialogue today?

The China Forum, a collaboration between Georgetown University and La Civiltà Cattolica, convenes Chinese academics and public figures with international partners to discuss common challenges at the intersection of culture, ethics, and global society. Through academic seminars, public events, and an online platform, the China Forum will initially focus on three topics: the global ecological crisis; humanities education for a global era; and the ethics of artificial intelligence. 

The Beijing Center (TBC), established in 1998 by Fr. Ron Anton, S.J., TBC serves as a hub for the international Jesuit higher education network in Mainland China. What makes us unique is our place in a long and storied tradition, starting with Matteo Ricci, of Jesuit learning engaging with Chinese culture.