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Marist Bulletin - Number 250

 

An interview with Brother Clemente Ivo Juliatto, Rector of the PUC of Curitiba
08/06/2006

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On the morning of the first of April 2006 Pope Benedict XVI held an audience with those taking part in the international Seminar on: The cultural patrimony and the values of the European University and the appeal of further education in Europe”, promoted by the Congregation for Catholic Education in collaboration with UNESCO - CEPES. The discourse given by the Holy Father centred on the importance of the university and of science which should always be at the disposition of mankind and mankind’s fundamental values.
Brother Clemente Ivo Juliatto, Rector of the Catholic Pontifical University of Curitiba participated in this Seminar held in Rome. On his way through the General House he offered us the opportunity to talk with him.


AMEstaún. Brother Clemente, one of the topics that constantly resonated in this Seminar was the declaration of Bologna. I would like you to give us a short historical summary of the process raised in the environment of the European university starting from this declaration.
CIJuliatto. The process of Bologna was the central theme of the seminar. It is a university movement that includes practically the whole of Europe, with the objective of unifying some of the structural processes of these universities. The University was organized to offer diverse degrees, diplomas and differentiated programmes and these diverse performances were summed up in particular achievements in each one of the countries. The movement was in fact named The Process of Bologna precisely because it was the first University created in Europe, more than 900 years ago. The process actually began in 1992. The governments of the member states of the European Economic Community, seeing the importance of the University in the development and unification of Europe, decided that it was also necessary to unify, to a certain extent, the work of the University. Starting from there, a process began with meetings at different levels. One w?????E??º??as at Government level through the ministries of education who have identified some working areas with common interests and have drawn up an agenda to provide solutions and answers. A second plan of action is the organization of inter-university seminars, to reflect on the characteristic purpose of university institutions. And a third element is working towards the emphasis on academic exchanges, encouraging inter-university movement of professors, researchers and students. So, the meeting here in Rome has been convoked to further this whole process.

Before we go on, can you point out the features, the characteristics of this university convergence? What will the European university of the future be like? What are the characteristics which will provide unity for the new European university?
It is a process of rapprochement. It is difficult to arrive at total convergence because diversity has to be respected. What is requested is that there be a certain unity within the diversity, so that the university can respect its tradition but at the same time presents some common characteristics which will facilitate integrated work. More specifically we are looking for unification in the types of diplomas and degrees that are offered (high school, masters and doctorates) and of shared approaches with regard to the workload of the students. This correspondence will facilitate the recognition of the academic credits studied and the transfer of students from one institution to another. One other factor which is also sought is the guarantee of the quality of education in all of the institutions.

The European University of the future will allow an exchange of students and professors with equivalent status.
That is exactly what is looked for. But in such a way that “each nation does not have its own Bologna, but rather there be a European Bologna”. That is to say, all universities in their respective countries and on the continent look for some common approaches mainly in the quality and service that the University offer?????E??º??s to society.

Is on-going formation also part of the programme of the European university of the future?
On-going formation was one of the points to be given a great deal of emphasis in the Seminar. And this appears to become more and more of a necessity in these modern times of explosion of knowledge. The process of education of a human being never ends, so a person who has been formed in the university, in one way or another, must again return there.

Will the type of structure that is conceived by the University of the European Economic Community continue in other countries? Specifically, is Brazil interested in considering the guidelines emanating from the process of Bologna? Does Brazil look more toward the University of Europe or more toward that of United States?
The American influence on the university campus was very strong in Latin America.
Brazil has based its university on the American model. In the past we were prone to look toward the United States. Now with the unification achieved by the European Economic Community, Europe stands out in the world as a great power that will make and is already becoming equal with the USA in world influence. Also our cultural ties and migratory origins with Europe are very strong. The politics of our own university now tend to look more toward Europe.

Will the University of Curitiba build an academic structure of credits, careers and degrees for students that can be exchanged with the European University?
Yes. In fact we already have many of the requirements that are demanded, with reference to academic credits, careers and certificates. In the PUC, for example, we already have the same academic levels for high schools, masters and doctorates. With this convergence our students who wish to complete their studies in Europe will have no difficulty with recognition of the equivalence of their degrees and of their diplomas.

Why was the Pontifical Catholic University of Curitiba invited to participate in this Seminar? Why did its Rector take part in this?????E??º?? Seminar?
The University was not invited to participate in this meeting in Rome. Through my formation, which took place in the USA, I am well acquainted with the American university system, as well as the Brazilian system. Personally I have a great interest in knowing more about the European University. And this was the reason I was the only representative from Brazil. There were forty-two countries represented and nearly two hundred and fifty participants, but few of us were from America.

Let us investigate further the main theme of the meeting. Apart from the formal and structural aspects of the University, what have been the most important ideas that were shared?
It was a meeting to advance the formation of the mentality and the standardisation of approach for convergence. But the most important discussion was centred in the topic of cultural inheritance and the values of the European University and at the same time the degree of its appeal. There are two things. First, the values that gave the European university its origin and sustenance remain clear. And that reflection was very interesting. In fact everything originated here in Europe, knowledge, books, the library, science as it is presented today and the one university. Europe was a nexus of western culture, a nexus with the university, a nexus with all types of knowledge. All these topics were discussed and among them stood out in a very significant way the question of the human and ethical values that have sustained western civilization; the contribution of the Church that created the first universities, was very important.
The initiative of the Holy See in sponsoring this Seminar in the Vatican had as its goal to demonstrate the recognition, the affection, the appreciation that the Church has towards universities. There are more than a thousand Catholic universities in the world and there are about one hundred Pontifical universities. We should remember that the Church was the pioneer of the University in Europe and that all the early universit?????E??º??ies were created by Pontifical ordinance. Another reality that we must keep in mind is that the Seminar emphasized in a remarkable way the human and ethical values, not only for the Church, but also for the representatives of ministries, for public universities and for the students who were also present.

Did the participants belong for the most part to representatives of universities of the Church?
No. We were very mixed. There were representatives from the Sacred Congregation of Catholic Education, from the European Committee to take forward the process of Bologna and of the universities. The participation of the Church was not in the majority but it was very strong including the treatment that the Holy
See afforded the participants. Notably, the Seminar took place inside the Vatican; then we also had an excellent session in the Gregorian University, which is also a symbol of the promotion of culture and science on the part of the Church; they invited us to a special concert in the basilica of St. Mary Major, an organized visit to the Sistine Chapel and to the Loggias of Raphael and a special banquet in one of the galleries of the Vatican Museum. All of this special treatment demonstrates the affection the Church has for the University.

Brother Clemente, you are taking from Rome a great experience for the University of Curitiba, for the professors and for the students.
For me personally there has been great satisfaction in seeing the contribution that the European University makes in the development of knowledge. Also it has given me a lot of satisfaction to see the credibility given by all the countries to the idea that science will be like a lever used to forward the progress of the European Union. And a lot of happiness also to note that the Church has universities which she assists with great affection. On the other hand, to see that the University cannot only be a motor of economic development but also that it must promote human development. Human values, ethical values are the foundation of the Ch?????E??º??ristian humanism that dominates our university of Curitiba and they are also greatly present in other universities.

Let us move to another topic. We will reflect on the works of the 1st World Encounter of Marist Universities “carried out in Curitiba in November of 2004. What are the perspectives in those Marist universities after that first encounter?
I think that it was a very fortunate initiative that the general Council organized the first world meeting of the Marist universities. In many parts of the Marist world there were isolated initiatives as much in America as in the East, creating institutions of higher education. We have universities in diverse countries of the world. Therefore it was a very good idea to encourage the first meeting. The General Council supported this initiative with the initial goal of becoming acquainted with us.In Curitiba we had the great happiness of receiving the Brothers and the representatives of the various Marist University institutions, some burgeoning, others already consolidated. It was very encouraging, as much for the participating Brothers as for the lay people who have embraced the ideal of Champagnat, to see that educational work is at the heart of the Marist Congregation.

Is further education also a field for the Marist educative presence?
That was one of the points at which we arrived in our exchanges. It is important to know that the Brothers are fully integrated in the field of education at all levels. Not only in elementary and secondary education or in other educational fields but also in the last stage of the educational process which is the university. The presence of the Brothers in the university stage of education guarantees the continuity of the process. And here it is necessary to highlight another important point. We must keep in mind that the university gives formation to the professors who, in turn, will provide continuity for the educational principles in elementary education and in secondary education.

Was a working plan for the future made at this meeting? On what plans are you working now?
Starting from this first meeting it was our intention to carry out serious work on the Marist educational mission at university level. Some commissions are working to prepare the topics for the next meeting. We had hoped the meeting would take place in the Philippines, but due to the political situation in that country it was decided to transfer it to Guadalajara, in Mexico. Three topics will be presented there. One of them is the clarification of the Marist pedagogical principles applied to higher education. A study will take place on how the pedagogy of Champagnat, already traditional among us, can be applied in the university. At the moment a document is being written which will be presented in Guadalajara so that it can be enriched with the contributions of the participants.
Another aspect that appeared very clearly is that we are already forming a network of Marist institutions. Why not help us? Some Marist universities have progressed more than others; we need to share our experience in the pedagogical processes, but also in administration. It is of great importance that we form this Marist world network, following the example of other congregations, especially theA?i?u?ø??????? Jesuits and the Salesians who meet periodically. Meanwhile there is a commission in charge of studying how to create some structures, which will at least ensure that these meetings have some continuity.

How will solidarity be promoted from the PUC of Curitiba? What attention is being paid to this educational dimension inside its structures?
A certain notion exists within the Congregation that university teaching is very selective, that the students of our universities do not come from the less favoured social classes. But that is not true. In our University of Curitiba 40% of the students have some type of financial assistance, either total or partial. We even offer a bank of studies, which we call “the revolving bank”, in the sense that they now have financial assistance and after they graduate they try to repay the money that has been lent to finance them, so that another needy student can receive the same assistance.
Nevertheless we think that it is not enough to offer higher education to those who do not have the money, because many of the students who come to our university are well able to pay for their studies. Because of this we believe that it is important that the university be responsible for the students transformation, that they become co-workers and be educated to be responsible members of society.
For that reason we introduced, (and in this I believe that we are the only ones in Brazil), as an activity for all the students, the obligation of carrying out a social project, as we call it, “A Community Project.” During one week, that is to say, 36 hours, the students have to carry out some social activity, be it in the periphery, working with children, visiting the sick in the hospitals, organizing all types of programmes; an activity that has to be planned and evaluated through the presentation of a report. They are educated with that purpose and their social activity counts as an academic credit for them.
That is the way things stand in our university, not only devoted to promoting financiaA?i?u?ø????????l aid for some students, but also trying to create a mentality, that people perceive that the advantage is not only for the one who receives the assistance but also for all the students, which is a new discovery for many. We have had wonderful examples of students who changed their outlook when they were close to the poor. And many, after doing that week of social service continue their commitment as volunteers. We know of some cases of parents or mothers who say: when my son is at home he talks only about that project. Can we also take part in it? That was a very stimulating discovery.
On the occasion of the canonization of Champagnat, in 1999, we began in the University to open community centres and instigated environmental action, which we call For-Action. Until now we have opened six centres, three in the metropolitan area of Curitiba and three on the coast of the state of Paraná, toward which we channel the efforts of our professors and students to social work. And there they have medical assistance, dentists, social support and development every type of activity.
This is how we interpret solidarity to be more positive and more formative for our students.

Do the professors also take part in this process?
Everything is structured and organized so that they can also take part. The idea is that the “Pro-Actions become centres of solidarity and voluntary work for everyone, even for people in the community who are not directly connected with the university.

How is vocation helped in the PUC?
This was always a concern. We still do not have the hoped-for results. But we trust in the great potential that the university has in this. Several congregations have found vocations from among the students in our university. We wonder why the Marists do not. But this year we are reorganizing the whole vocational of the university to supplement it with the university guidance team.
We had the great satisfaction of finding a Brother who is dedicated to working within the university, in contact with the students wA?i?u?ø????????ho take part in the university pastoral guidance. The university also has a parish run by the Marist Fathers who have their seminary there. In the university there are many groups of religious congregations and the diocese whose candidates attend the university to study philosophy and theology. So we collaborate in a very important way with the Church. Last year another theology course was opened in Londrina and this year in Maringá a philosophy course for the seminarians of the dioceses of North Paraná who do their studies with us.

How many Brothers work in the PUC?
Until some days ago there were eight of us. From now on we will be seven, as a Brother has just died. He worked in the university hospital. We are, then, seven Brothers for twenty-five thousand students. We invite other Brothers to come to help us. We await with very high hopes their presence among us. The work is immense. We cater for five campuses. Besides the central campus which is in the city of Curitiba where we also assist in São José dos Pinhais and in the last four years we have opened three more: Londrina, Toledo and Maringá.

From the scientific point of view, what are the more significant contributions that the PUC makes to society and science?
We have had great development in the field of investigation in these last few years. There are more than a hundred organized groups of researchers in the PUC recognised by the Ministry of Education. But we must highlight particularly the efforts carried out in the field of health. In the area of medicine we have four university hospitals working jointly with the PUC. In the area of cellular biology we have an advanced laboratory where important research is done on transplants of heart valves with the cells appropriate for future recipients; cultivation of cells that produce insulin so that they are implanted in those suffering from diabetes; and multiplication of muscular cells to implant in hearts that suffer heart attacks, to reinforce the heart muscle. These are just some examples. But the PUC A?i?u?ø????????also encourages important research in the area of technology and computer science.

What is the happiest moment for a Marist rector in your University?
The source of happiness is to be able to say that the University serves the Church and society and that it attempts to offer an education of quality for the students. A moment of especial happiness was when we received the honourable title of Pontifical in 1985. I was not rector but I participated actively in the process. That reinforced even more our commitment to the Church. I was very happy when we held the first graduation of those students of the Campus of Londrina, created four years ago.
People are happy to have participated in the whole developmental process of the University. In that sense I have been privileged, since when I arrived thirty years ago at the PUC the Institution had no more than four thousand students and now we have more than twenty-five thousand and we are very well respected by society. We have proved that the university is a strong lever of development and at the same time one of the major forces of the Marist Institute and of the Church.

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