A symposium organised by the Macau Ricci Institute and the University of St. Joseph, Macau

Thursday 15 October and Friday 16 October 2020

University of St. Joseph, Macau Ilha Verde Campus

The Macau Ricci Institute’s Symposium for 2020 aims to draw philosophers, business people, scholars and key opinion leaders together to discuss the economic, social and ecological challenges facing our world. Beyond the discussion of papers and presentations we aim to co-create a Macau Ricci Institute Manifesto of actions partly informed by the convictions and faith of Saint Francis of Assisi and the ideals that he espoused and lived out. Vital to the Manifesto will be the inclusion of the excluded through principles and practices that reduce pain and suffering for people and all living beings.

The title of this symposium is Towards a New Paradigm of Economics to highlight the contemporary work and mission of Pope Francis to bring the whole of the human family to enact sustainable and integral development through protecting our natural environment and its resources and by resolving the tragic effects of environmental degradation on the lives of the world’s poorest. As set out in his encyclical letter Laudato Si’, Pope Francis projected a vision of hope for our future, our common home, the poorest of the poor and the entire human family. He evoked the words spoken to St. Francis of Assisi from the Crucifix in the small church of San Damiano: “Go, Francis, repair my house, which, as you see, is falling into ruin”. Pope Francis’ response to the human family today is:

The repair of that house concerns all of us. It concerns the Church, society and the heart of each individual. Increasingly, it concerns the environment, which urgently demands a sound economy and a sustainable development that can heal its wounds and assure us of a worthy future.*1

The ideals of the New Paradigm are shared broadly across faiths and philosophies. The Buddhist economist, E. F. Schumacher, is one example whose work is continued by philosophical and spiritual scholars and practitioners (e.g Responsible Economics: E. F. Schumacher and his Legacy for the 21st Century, ed. Opdebeeck, H., 2013; Soul, Soil, Society: a new trinity for our time, Kumar, S. 2013). Pope Francis’ own initiative to invite young people to the “Economy of Francesco” event at Assisi in March 2020 will bring together leading economists and entrepreneurs who will make a commitment to the spirit and work of St. Francis today, thus responding to aspirations and demands for change now animating today’s youth. Key economic opinion leaders such as Amartya Sen, Jeffrey Sachs, Vandana Shiva, Muhammed Yunus, and Kate Raworth, have already accepted Pope Francis’ invitation. Our MRI Symposium will build upon the insights emerging from the event at Assisi. It will provide an opportunity for scholars, philosophers, and business leaders based in China and East Asia to contribute their own perspectives to the global dialogue shaping the New Paradigm.

As is clear from Pope Francis’ approach to climate change, as presented in Laudato Si’, the New Paradigm must challenge the old paradigm of neo-classical economics and its reliance on the supposed rational, self-interested firm maximising profits in service to its shareholders who include short-term speculators rather than committed stakeholders. But the neo-classical model of economics is now fading under its failure to describe adequately the reality of economic life, or to motivate stakeholders with appeals beyond their immediate self-interest, or to address challenges that threaten the very survival of the human race. Understandably, McKinsey, the leading business consulting firm, has since 2011 pointed towards the need to redefine capitalism.*2

Recent evidence of the emergence of a new economic paradigm, in August 2019, surfaced in the US Business Roundtable (BRT) lobby’s statement that changed the official definition of “the purpose of a corporation” from making the most money possible for shareholders to “improving our society” by also looking out for employees, caring for the environment and dealing ethically. Stakeholder Capitalism, Inclusive Capitalism, Conscious Capitalism or Progressive Business all represent similar perspectives seeking to move beyond short-termism and maximising shareholder value, in order to regain for managers and entrepreneurs the freedom to make decisions to balance profit and purpose. The emergence of behavioural economics and behavioural finance challenge the supposed reality of the efficient market hypothesis and now inform much of contemporary debate. Public awareness of this shift in perspective was illustrated by an advertisement in the New York Times in August 2018 by a group of more than 30 American business leaders challenging business leaders to champion a more ethical way of doing business.

*1: Messaggio del Santo Padre Francesco per l’evento “Economy of Francesco” (Assisi, 26-28 marzo 2020),11 May, 2019.

*2: Dominic Barton, “Capitalism for the Long Term”, Harvard Business Review February, 2011 and Eric Beinhocker and Nick Hanauer, Redefining capitalism, McKinsey Quarterly, September 2014

But what is the shape of that more ethical way of doing business? Is it mature enough to be proclaimed in a Macau Ricci Manifesto that we hope will emerge from our symposium? While this effort to discern a New Paradigm draws inspiration from St Francis and Pope Francis, it will also highlight insights from the full range of wisdom traditions flourishing in China and East Asia, namely, Buddhism, Islam, and Daoism, as well as Christianity and Confucianism. We encourage participants to propose papers that focus on a particular aspect of the New Paradigm or similar economic and financial models that seek for similar outcomes, showing how these can and ought to make a practical difference in our lives. We also encourage participants to propose papers focusing specifically on the moral and spiritual presuppositions honored in various religious wisdom tradition , showing how these traditions can and ought to guide our thinking about economic activity in the years ahead.

Brief for Submissions

With this call for papers we invite submissions that bring together theory and practice, research studies and case-based papers that could inform and illustrate a simple manifesto inspired by alternative economic paradigms, starting with, but by no means limited to those outlined in the encyclical letters of Pope Francis especially in The Joy of the Gospel and Laudato Si’. We welcome empirical studies that explore communities and practices grounded in alternative economic models, and well-developed conceptual papers that accept the invitation of Pope Francis’ statements for interreligious—as well as interdisciplinary—dialogues that may help bring a new approach to economics and finance into practice for governments, NGOs and companies.

Empirical studies should be supported by rigorous qualitative or quantitative data analysis. Conceptual work should be clearly grounded in the existing literature. Practitioner papers are welcomed to contribute to our understanding of effective teaching and learning, through research, reports and case studies that address any of the questions suggested here, or others that they believe should be addressed.

Submitted papers should have the potential to make a significant contribution both to action oriented educational and academic literature and provide specific recommendations for practical actions by governments, NGOs and companies that will inform the Macau Ricci Institute’s Manifesto as an output of the Symposium.

Accepted papers for the Symposium will be considered for publication in the Macau Ricci Institute Journal.

Submission Dates

Please submit papers or an abstract of 500-700 words for consideration to Mr. Brian Chao, at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., by 27 April 2020. Authors of accepted papers will be notified by 31 July 2020, and at that time will be given a “Style Sheet” with instructions, on the length of the paper, formatting, the use of APA guidelines, and other technical details. The deadline for final papers is 1 October 2020.