Javier A. Viera

President and Professor of Education and Leadership


  • B.A., Florida Southern College
  • M.Div., Duke University
  • S.T.M., Yale University
  • Ed.D., Columbia University

The Work of Liberation and Transformation

I understand education to be the work of liberation and transformation—of the mind, of the spirit, and of the body.  Given that we live in an increasingly complex world, I’m interested in how learning takes place across religious differences and what conditions are necessary to best enable such learning to take place. 

Much of my work has been informed and inspired by the educational theories of Jürgen Habermas and Paulo Friere, whose understanding of dialogical action takes intellectual deliberation and exchange into the streets as meaningful actions that transform the lived realities of others. Freire, in particular, distinguishes educative practices of ‘false charity’ from those of ‘true generosity.’  He states, “True generosity consists precisely in fighting to destroy the causes which nourish false charity. False charity constrains the fearful and subdued, the "rejects of life," to extend their trembling hands. True generosity lies in striving so that these hands--whether of individuals or entire peoples--need be extended less and less in supplication, so that more and more they become human hands which work and, working, transform the world.”  

In my teaching, I seek to inform and train future religious leaders in the practices of ‘true generosity’ so that the Church is an engine of transformation and liberation in the world, rather than a perpetuator of ‘false charity.’  I believe this was the very core of Jesus’ work, and should be the very core of the Church’s work in the world today.