"As change catalysts: we can better serve society as facilitators rather than as the main actors of social development. Our primary and direct action is mainly in education. In other social sectors, it is better for us as an institution to enable the mobilization and convergence of various actors in society. If our intervention in a community or institution is to be direct, it is always with a view to making social templates that can be eventually replicated and multiplied by others.
As strategic thinkers: our place in higher education is to help society do some higher-order thinking on the complex, culture-bound, non-linear mechanisms and systems that perpetuate the collective burden of poverty and conflict. Understanding these, we can help propose systemic solutions that are hopefully effective and lasting. On this, it is also imperative for a higher education institution such as ours to plot the long-term, wider impact of national and global currents on local communities.
As culture shapers: we are in the “business” of changing mindsets and converting lives. As I shared in the Rizal sesquicentennial celebration, we cannot build what we do not love. And we cannot love what is not ours. A privileged role then for us as a school is to cultivate love of country. Only by defining and strengthening our national identity will we be able to participate meaningfully on the global track of development. This will demand new work on expanding our notion of nation and nationalism in view of the Filipino diaspora. In cultivating this love of country, the humanities and the arts play an instrumental part."
- Fr. Jose T. Villarin, S.J.
President, Ateneo de Manila University