The Conference took place from 11 to 15 June 2013 ICES, in La Roche Sur Yon, Nantes, France. Around 70 participants including Rectors/Presidents, Academics and top Administrators of member Universities attended the Conference. ICUSTA Membership which currently stands at 35 universities.
ICUSTA was founded in 1993 by Dr. Gerardo Rocha VERA, President of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) in Santiago, Chile. Since its establishment, biennial meetings were conducted in 11 different countries in South and North America, Europe and Asia; while Africa is next in line.ICUSTA has as its main mission, to unite all the Catholic universities based on the intellectual, pedagogical and methodological principles of Thomism, the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas, in order to create and integrate university policies. Hence, ICUSTA’s major purpose is to encourage cooperation and collaboration, and international understanding among its members. ICUSTA fosters student and faculty exchanges through bilateral agreements and promotes other collaborative initiatives such as: faculty exchange opportunities, and faculty collaborative exchange research opportunities as well as Online course offerings related to globalization, In strict compliance with the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas, the France ICUSTA Conference discussed current issues on “Secularism” and Catholic Universities in the modern world.
The major theme of the 11th Biennial General Assembly was well expressed in the ICUSTA documentation as: “Our gathering will be a moment of reflection on the role of the Catholic university in the varying contexts of secularism in today’s world.” The question was: How can Catholic Universities maintain and retain "Their Catholic Identity" in globalization and highly secular environment where spirituality is marginalized (partially or totally)? Many well researched professional papers were presented and discussed. The overall synthesis suggests to direct evangelization efforts in areas like: 1) Faculty 2) Students, and 3) Administration Staff to reflect catholic values; of course, there are many other avenues for developing catholic values in teaching, research, programs design and implementation.
Conference Theme:The 11th Biennial Conference was a well organized, highly professional and enlightening event. Indeed ECUSTA representatives benefited from the high profile mission and participation of the World Catholic Universities Conference. The Ethiopian Catholic University of St. Thomas Aquinas (ECUSTA) was represented by Rev. Fr.Tekle Mekonnen, President of ECUSTA and Mr. Gebretsadik Woldeyesus, Chief Executive Secretary. Besides lessons learned from the actual program discussions and participation, they had fruitful interactions with Rectors/Presidents and other highly placed Academics from all over the world. A lot was learned from the Conference Theme as well as the proceedings of the Plenary and group sessions; collaboration was ascertained in many areas of academic activities. Like many other members, ECUSTA representatives expressed via e-mail their appreciation and gratitude to all the organizers at ICUSTA and ICES as well as the participants.
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