PhD Position Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum: Catholic Social Thought and the Ethics of Investment

 width= width=     PhD Scholarship Description The Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum seeks a researcher from China, Hong Kong, Macau, or Taiwan - or whose family comes from these countries - for the 3-year, full-time PhD project “Catholic Social Thought and Ethical Investment”.
  • Deadline for application: January 8, 2021 (23:00 UTC/GMT+2)
  • Intended starting date: September 1, 2021
Aims of the PhD Project: Finance is fraught with ethical issues. Many of these are peculiar to modern finance, which has developed enormously over the last forty years. Nevertheless, they have received comparatively little scholarly attention, even though there is increasing public concern about the externalities of modern business. Catholics, of course, can look to official teaching of their Church for moral guidance. Even so, its official teaching on investment and finance, summed up in the 2018 document Oeconomicae et pecuniariae quaestiones, is somewhat generic. It assesses modern finance in the light of general ethical principles but may not always be based on an adequate account of the institutions examined or sound economic analysis. It is supplemented by a long tradition of sophisticated theological reflection on the ethics and economics of finance. Both need to be supplemented by qualified interdisciplinary research on Catholic social thought, business ethics, and current financial markets. The present PhD project aims to make a small but important contribution to this area of research.   One group of questions surrounds Socially Responsible Investment (SRI). More people want to make sure that their investments are not only doing well, but also doing good. The most common strategy is to assess companies not only by their performance, but also by their environmental, social, and governance policies (ESG). Nevertheless, the devil is in the details. On the one hand, SRI portfolios may not perform well. On the other hand, while most investors accept the general ideals behind ESG investing, there can be a lot of disagreement over which market activities and corporate policies are good or bad for the various stakeholders. Moreover, Catholics may find it hard to find investments that fit in with their own distinctive views on integral human development and social justice, particularly on the issues of marriage, family, and healthcare. What, then, are the Catholic tradition’s criteria for ethical investment, and do they stand under scrutiny in a secular society? Furthermore, do investments following these criteria perform well?   Another group of questions bears on financial markets. Catholic ethicists are divided over the nature and morality of speculation, to say nothing of the derivatives (futures, options, and swaps) and hedge fund markets. It is not always clear whether Catholics can participate in good faith in these markets or should support each proposal to regulate them. To clarify these issues, it is necessary to study more closely the possible economic and social functions of these markets, as well as the various kinds of regulation, their track-record, and system of incentives.   The research project should clarify some of the ethical criteria that should guide Catholics as individual investors, financial advisers, fund managers, or traders.     Research Setting The position is funded by Wofoo Social Enterprises (Hong Kong). The researcher will be expected to:
  • participate actively in conferences;
  • present, defend, and publish at the end of the three years a PhD dissertation which lays out the results of the research.
  Qualifications The position is open to applicants from China, Hong Kong, Macau, or Taiwan or whose family comes from these countries. Applicants need to have:
  • completed, prior to appointment, a Pontifical Licence degree in Philosophy. Candidates in possession of other Master’s degrees in Philosophy may be considered, if they are able to complete a Pontifical Licence degree in Philosophy in the course of the 2020-2021 academic year.
  • strong interest in moral philosophy, applied ethics, Catholic social thought, economics, and finance.
  • knowledge in a more specialized field relevant to the project (economics or finance) is welcome.
  • have an excellent track record and excellent academic writing and presentation skills.
  • the ability to work both independently and as part of a team.
  • an active interest in interdisciplinary work which connects philosophical analysis to other relevant disciplines and societal challenges.
  • a high level of proficiency in English.
Offer We offer a PhD position for a period of three years. The scholarship consists in a monthly gross stipend of €1,500. An additional €3,000 per year is available to cover specific research expenses, such as fees and enrolment to international conferences, purchase of essays and reviews. Additional information For more information about the project or the requirements for application, please contact Alex Yeung LC via   Interviews (via video conference) will be held in the week of January 18. Preferred starting date: 1 September 2021. Apply To apply, please send your application and pdfs of the following documents to
  1. academic grade transcripts from all relevant degree programmes;
  2. an electronic copy of the applicant’s License thesis;
  3. a curriculum vitae of maximum 3 pages, including the names and contact details of three references, one of whom should be a Catholic bishop or priest;
  4. a one-page letter of motivation;
  5. a one-page research note, setting out your ideas about how you propose to carry out the project described above;
    Before application read the Privacy Notice pursuant to Article 13 GDPR.   The application deadline is January 8, 2021 (23:00 UTC/GMT+2).

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