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”.
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.
The position is funded by Wofoo Social Enterprises (Hong Kong). The researcher will be expected to:
The position is open to applicants from China, Hong Kong, Macau, or Taiwan or whose family comes from these countries.
Applicants need to have:
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.
For more information about the project or the requirements for application, please contact Alex Yeung LC via [email protected]
Interviews (via video conference) will be held in the last week of April. Preferred starting date: 1 September 2021.
To apply, please send your application and pdfs of the following documents to [email protected]
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