Freedom, Subsidiary and the Spirit of Gift - International conference in the UPS

As the result of almost two years of successful planning and execution, the University of Public Service (UPS) hosted and co-organised the conference Freedom, Subsidiary and the Spirit of Gift, the twelfth international conference on catholic social thought and business education; and the eighth colloquium on Christian humanism in business and society, with the University of St. Thomas, Minnesota, USA, between 23 and 24 June 2022. The conference's costs were financed by the project TKP2020-NKA-09, "Sustainable Security and Social Environment".

The conference aimed to explore how work should be guided by three distinct principles and values of Catholic Social Teaching. During the plenary and concurrent sessions, the lecturers and participants searched the consequences of the principle of subsidiarity, specifically for society and business, freedom, and the gift of freedom.

Boglárka Koller, vice-rector for international affairs of the UPS, and Michael Naughton, director of the centre for catholic studies at the University of St. Thomas, co-author and co-editor of 12 books and monographs and over 60 articles, opened the conference and greeted the audience. Various internationally acknowledged and distinguished scholars shared their views and knowledge during the plenary sessions. The long list of presenters included: Joseph Kaboski, professor of economics in the department of economics at the University of Notre Dame and a fellow of the Kellogg Institute, who earned the prestigious Frisch Medal for the best paper in the journal Econometrica; Emery Koenig, who served as vice chairman and chief risk officer of Cargill Inc.; Christian Hillgruber, director of the Institute of canon law at Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn; Alberto Ribera, the academic director of the IESE coaching unit; dr Frederic Sautet, associate professor at the Busch School of Business at The Catholic University of America in Washington DC and the co-founder of The Art Ciocca Center for Principled Entrepreneurship and its academic director; and Laura Sarolta Baritz OP, specialised herself on the alternative economics, which combines economic science with ethics and theology. 

Besides the organisational and hosting tasks, the UPS contributed to the conference's success through the inspiring presentation of Boglárka Koller and Péter Krisztián Zachar, vice-dean for international affairs. Gábor Kutasi, director of the Economy and Competitiveness Research Institute, moderated a panel discussion.

The conference's main attractions, the panel talks, were expanded by shorter concurrent sessions in-between them lecturing several acknowledged professors from the US, Germany, Mexico, Italy, Belarus, etc.

The conference nourished not only the mind but also the soul. Both days began with a Holy Mass, with Cardinal Peter Erdő celebrating the second day's ceremony. The valuable knowledge shared in the conference will not remain among the walls of the UPS. The abstracts are already available on the website of St Thomas University. Still, the organisers plan to publish the papers in a selected Q2 journal as well as in an edited volume. The publication is expected this autumn.

The two-day-long event concluded with the closing remarks of Boglárka Koller and Father Martin Schlag, an expert on Catholic social thought in political and economic questions, the spiritual leader of the conference.

Text: Annamária Kitta

Photo: Dénes Szilágyi