Interview with Jermo van Nes, co-leader of the Homo Florens Project

Recently, I spoke to Jermo van Nes about the Homo Florens project, of which he is co-projectleader. This project, which initially started as Homo Amans, is now in its second phase. It is therefore a good moment to ask him about the content and purpose of this project. Below his response to the questions asked.


What is the Homo Florens project about?

The Homo Florens focuses on relational anthropology for contemporary economics. In economics, it is still common to suppose that people are rational beings with not much interest in the common good. This imaginary person in academic circles is known as homo economicus. While people certainly behave as such sometimes, many studies over the years have shown that there is much more to human nature and behavior. Collecting these studies, we aim to integrate their findings into a relational anthropology that heuristically conceives of people as both rational and relational. Our current hypothesis is that people are able to trust and, accordingly, are potentially able to search for meaning (“to have faith”), to long for the future (“to hope”), and to relate meaningfully to others (“to love”). Once properly developed, these qualities enable people to make decisions that serve the common good. If so, we think it is more accurate to typify the human being as a flourishing person – homo florens.

What are the goals of this project?

Our hypothesis concerning human nature in terms of “faith”, “hope”, and “love” as related to trust, however, needs testing. That is why one of the goals of this project is to set up an international and multidisciplinary research project that investigates the interrelationship(s) between these concepts. Another goal of this project is to share the overall research findings with students in economics, management, and/or business. We believe it is of major importance that future leaders will acknowledge the rational as well as the relational qualities of people and see economics as a means to serve the common good and promote human flourishing.

How do you plan to achieve these goals?

In this stage of the project, we are networking to establish good relationships with leading scholars across various academic disciplines to collaborate in doing research on faith”, “hope”, and “love” in relation to trust. We are also connecting to colleagues in faculties of economics, universities of applied sciences, and/or business schools, who are willing to offer a course on relational anthropology in their curriculum. Throughout the project, we aim to deliver a number of monographs and articles, both academic and popular, organize a number of conferences, and develop a course on relational anthropology that will be taught at several schools in Western Europe.

Why is this project important for ILSE?

ILSE seeks to combine academic and multidisciplinary research with societal relevance. ILSE also wants to contribute to leadership theory. Both aspects come to the fore in the Homo Florens project as we do multidisciplinary research on aspects that help us, our colleagues, and (our) students to build a more just and sustainable society for everyone.

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