THE FIRST ONLINE MRI SYMPOSIUM: Toward a New Paradigm of Economics



In consultation with his advisors, Fr. Stephan Rothlin, SJ, Director of the Macau Ricci Institute, has announced a change in plans for the 2020 MRI Symposium, because of the Covid-19 global pandemic and the uncertainties over its trajectory in the months ahead.  Given the measures taken to contain the virus in so many countries, as well the near universal shutdown of air travel, and the likelihood of lengthy quarantine restrictions to be faced by anyone participating in that conference, the decision was made to conduct the event scheduled for October 15-16, 2020, as the first ONLINE MRI Symposium.


Given the severe disruption of the global economy now wreaking havoc on businesses, markets, social service agencies, and health care institutions world-wide, the theme is all the more pressing than when it was first developed last year.  The MRI plans to hold a series of internet-based workshops on various aspects of the challenge of economic recovery once the crisis is past.  Planning is now underway for an online Symposium which is conducted through ZOOM.  Further details on the ONLINE MRI Symposium will be forthcoming, so be alert for them.


The ONLINE MRI Symposium will consist in a series of workshops, whose participation will be mostly but not exclusively BY INVITATION.  If you were hoping to participate in the previously scheduled 2020 MRI symposium, “Toward a New Paradigm of Economics,” in Macau, and still are interested in the workshops, we urge you to contact Mr. Brian Chao, at the MRI, or Prof. Dennis P. McCann, who is assisting Fr. Rothlin in organizing the workshops.  The basic theme remains focused on understanding the need for a New Paradigm and marshalling the resources for constructing it.  What has changed, however, is what we are now learning in light of the global economic crisis now rolling in like a tsunami in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.


The point of departure for the developing the workshops, therefore, remains what was announced previously in what was intended to be a Call for Papers:


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 the ONLINE symposium for 2020 remains “Towards a New Paradigm of Economics” which is meant to further the contemporary work and mission of Pope Francis to urge 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.


The ideals animating 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. Pope Francis’ own initiative to invite young people to the “Economy of Francesco” event at Assisi currently scheduled for 19-21 November 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 ONLINE Symposium will serve as a preparatory event, reflecting Asian responses to the Pope’s invitation. 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. 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.


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.


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 traditions, showing how these traditions can and ought to guide our thinking about economic activity in the years ahead.


The ONLINE Symposium will also include social workers and social scientists who are working to integrate marginalized people, drug addicts, orphans within the real economy and assist them to get a job. It will thus explore which spiritual resources such as Bible reading, formation in music, prayer and Contemplation are crucial in this process.


If you are interested in participating in the workshops, please contact either Brian Chao or Dennis P. McCann, with an email expressing your interest, and perhaps some idea of the what you would like to contribute to the workshops.


While we felt we had no option but to cancel the previous planning that would have convened the 2020 MRI Symposium in Macau, we want you to know that we do intend to provide appropriate forums, such as this first ONLINE Symposium, for the discussion of our common future beyond the Covid-19 crisis.  Thank you for your patience. 




Fr. Stephan Rothlin, Director, Macau Ricci Institute

Dr. Mike Thompson, Gustavson School of Business, University of Victoria (BC) and the Anthesis Group.

Dr. Dennis P. McCann, Director of Research, Rothlin, Ltd. (该 Email 地址已受到反垃圾邮件插件保护。要显示它需要在浏览器中启用 JavaScript。)

Mr. Brian Chao, Project Manager, Macau Ricci Institute (该 Email 地址已受到反垃圾邮件插件保护。要显示它需要在浏览器中启用 JavaScript。)