In September, with new courses and specializations, the new academic year at Sophia University Institute begins. A university that aspires to train specialists in dialogue and peace. Through the voices of students and professors, we discover the value of this university experience.
“Sophia changed me in every sense of the word. It opened my eyes and pushed me to open my heart,” says Jena Espelita, a young Filipina who graduated in 2021 with a degree in “Economics and Management” from Sophia University Institute and is now employed as an IT manager at the Dicastery in Service to Integral Human Development of the Roman Curia. Original consideration, one would say, since we are talking about a university background. But Jena elaborates: “Now, my work has also acquired a social meaning. I am in service, doing what I always knew how to do: computer science.” In short, Jena, thanks to her experience at Sophia, has discovered and given a broader perspective and horizon to her IT professionalism.
“It’s one of the effects of attending a university like Sophia,” explains Bernhard Callebaut, professor of Sociology and coordinator of the Master of Arts in the Culture of Unity degree program, “we have observed that the experience of studying and living at the IUS also helps to develop certain ‘transversal’ skills: such as being able to look at a problem from different points of view, it strengthens the ability to listen and dialogue, respect for diversity, the ability to find solutions and to work in groups or networks.”
A university of fraternity
Callebaut continues, “The challenge and appeal of Sophia lies in the fact that what is taught and how it is taught are in harmony. We try to nurture an attitude of respect for the other, for their otherness, which then also influences thought and studies. Here, we normally average 30 different nationalities: it’s about understanding each other, learning to harmonize the culture of pasta with that of potato, cassava or rice.” In short, he continues: “Sophia is a university that wants to build bridges. I like to call it a university of fraternity. It wants to enter into the rifts of life, the distances to foster dialogue, understanding.”
This is the experience of another student, Prisca Maharavo Mwebaze, from Madagascar. Before coming to Sophia, she studied at the Catholic University of Madagascar (UCM) where she majored in Public Law and Political Science. At Sophia, she majored in Political Science with a research on the very topic of universal fraternity. Research that, during her time at IUS and even afterwards, she had the opportunity to put into practice. She recalls, “With a group of students from the African continent, we conceived and promoted an initiative called Together for a New Africa (T4NA), which aims to enable young Africans to address key challenges on their continent by promoting and developing a culture of unity adapted to the African context, through lived experiences, training, mentoring and networking. It is now a project more than 4 years old, collaborating with many African and European entities, institutions and organizations.” Prisca is not the only one to have had this experience. In fact, according to a recent study, for the majority of graduates, having studied at Sophia also seems to have encapsulated the opportunity to learn how to transpose their values from the theoretical to the concrete plane.
University and work
All great but what about later? According to the same analysis, 81% of graduates at the IUS found jobs within 6 months of graduation, 96% within a year of graduation.
The majority hold positions of responsibility, as freelancers, entrepreneurs, consultants (28 %), as managers and senior officials (7 %), or in the scientific-cultural field of education and research (28%). In short, the data are encouraging.
Academic offerings 2022/23
And here we are today. The academic offerings at IUS this year propose four pathways and six courses of study, including two in English: Culture of Unity, with specializations in Pedagogy of Dialogue and Communication, Peace and Dialogue; Economics and Management, with specializations in Management for a Civil and Sustainable Economy; Trinitarian Ontology, with specializations in Philosophy and Theology; and Political Science, with specializations in International Politics and Law.
All information about courses and programs are on the university’s website. For initial contact, you can write to: email@example.com.