European SPES Institute

The European SPES Forum was established in by Luk Bouckaert and Laszlo Zsolnai 2004 In Leuven, Belgium. It was transformed into the European SPES Institute in 2014.

The aim of the European SPES Institute is to make spirituality accessible as a public good to as many people as possible. Or, to phrase it differently: to open up spirituality as a vital source in social and economic life. This aim is expressed in the key word of SPES, being on the one hand an acronym for ‘SPirituality in Economic and Social life’ and, on the other hand, the Latin word for Hope, the virtue that sustains our belief in a better future. Spirituality is deliberately defined in broad and pluralistic terms so that the European SPES Institute brings together people from different spiritual backgrounds and traditions: Christians, Buddhists, spiritual freethinkers, Jews, Muslims. Our working definition is: Spirituality is the multiform search for a transcendent or deep meaning of life that connects people to each other and brings them in touch with God or ‘Ultimate Reality’. Within this definition there is room for differing views, for spiritualities with and without God and for an ethics of dialogue or ‘active pluralism’.

International Handbook of Spirituality and Society

Laszlo Zsolnai and Bernadette Flanagan develop the International Handbook of Spirituality and Society for Routledge. The Handbook aims to summarize the most important issues and problems  of spiritually-related activities in different fields of social life. Also, it presents approaches and models for  professions working in these domains.  

Spirituality is apparently present in almost every sphere and aspect of social life, especially in the context of crises and vulnerabilities. Spirituality appears in our dealing with nature, home and community, healing, economics and business, knowledge, and education. Professions related to these fields are trying to integrate the spiritual aspect in their underlying theories, working models and practices. The “spiritualization” of the professions includes ecology, agriculture, landscape and urban planning, gardening, tourism, psychological counseling, pastoral care, social work, medicine, nursing, economics, business, law, politics, science, art, technology, architecture, design, fashion, media, and education.


Integral Ecology and Sustainable Business

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Ove Jakobsen & Laszlo Zsolnai (eds.) Integral Ecology and Sustainable Business. Emerald, 2017. (This book may be available at: Emerald)

This collection addresses the relationship between business, the natural environment, ethics, and spirituality. While traditional economic theory generally assumed firms maximize profits, it has long been acknowledged that other factors may be important to understanding firm activities. The role of ethics and spirituality in society is clearly significant, yet economists have traditionally had little to say on these topics and how they intersect with economic activity.

Economics as a Moral Science

With Peter Rona (Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford) and Laszlo Zsolnai edits a book for Springer under the title Economics as a Moral Science to be published in 2017.

The book is an attempt to reclaim economics as a moral science. It argues that ethics is a relevant aspect of all levels of economic activity, from individual and organizational to societal and global. Taking ethical considerations into account is needed in explaining and predicting the behavior of economic agents as well as in evaluating and designing economic policies and mechanisms.

Integral Ecology, Earth Spirituality, and Economics

The Center for Ecological Economics and Ethics of the Bodo Graduate School of Business, University of Nordland organizes the 2016 Annual European SPES Conference in May 27-29, 2016, in Bodo, Norway. The topic of the conference is „Integral Ecology, Earth Spirituality and Economics”.

Spirituality in the VUCA World

The European SPES Institute organized its annual conference in 3-5 July 2015 in Breukelen, The Netherlands. The title of the conference is "Management in the VUCA World: The Role of Spirituality". The conference discussed the concept of spirituality and how spirituality helps managers to navigate the VUCA World of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity.

The Spiritual Dimension of Business Ethics and Sustainability Management

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Laszlo Zsolnai (ed.) The Spiritual Dimension of Business Ethics and Sustainability Management. Springer, 2015. (This book may be available at: Springer)

This book discloses the spiritual dimension in business ethics and sustainability management. Spirituality is understood as a multiform search for meaning which connects people with all living beings and God or Ultimate Reality. In this sense, spirituality is a vital source in social and economic life. The volume examines the spiritual orientations to nature and business in different cultural traditions: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Sufism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism. It studies how spirituality and ecology can contribute to transforming contemporary management theory and praxis. It discusses new leadership roles and business models that emerge for sustainability in business and shows how entrepreneurship can be inspired by nature and spirituality in a meaningful way.​

Business for Peace

The 10th Anniversary Conference of the European SPES Forum was held in in April 10-12, 2014 in Ieper, Flanders Fields, Belgium. The conference entitled “Business for Peace – Strategies for Hope” was dedicated to the memory of the centennial anniversary of the first World War (1914-1918) The opening lecture was given by Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council under the title “Europe as a Peace Project”. Participants launched  The Ypres Manifesto on Business for Peace.

Spirituality and Sustainability Management

Laszlo Zsolnai edited the "Spirituality and Sustainability Management" Special Issue of World Review of Entrepreneurship, Management and Sustainable Development 2014 Vol 10. No.1.

This special issue is a product of the Spirituality and Sustainability: A New Path for Entrepreneurship Conference held on 21–23 September 2012 in Visegrad, Hungary. The conference was organised by the Business Ethics Center of the Corvinus University of Budapest in cooperation with the European SPES Forum and the ERENET – Entrepreneurship Research and Education Network of Central European Universities. It is the hope of the editor that the papers of this special issue contribute to an extended understanding of the role that spirituality can play in transforming management and business into a more sustainable and more human activity.

Responsible Economics: E.F. Schumacher and His Legacy for the 21st Century

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Hendrik Opdebeeck (ed.) Responsible Economics: E.F. Schumacher and His Legacy for the 21st Century. Peter Lang Academic Publishers, Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2013. (This book may be available at: Peter Lang)

The centenary of E.F. Schumacher’s birth (1911-1977) offered an urgent opportunity to revisit his work and life. Against the background of the crisis at the beginning of this century, reconsidering Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful or frugality paradigm makes clear that advances in responsible economics continue to be a priority. This book contains the proceedings of the 2011 Annual Conference of the European SPES Forum on ‘Responsibility in Economics and Business: The Legacy of E.F. Schumacher’, which was organised in September 2011 by the Centre for Ethics of the University of Antwerp in collaboration with the Business Ethics Center of Budapest. The aims of this conference were to celebrate the 100th anniversary of E.F. Schumacher’s birth and to engage with Schumacher’s vision to help address the present need for responsibility in economics and business.

Spirituality and Sustainability Conference

The Business Ethics Center of the Corvinus University of Budapest, the European SPES Forum, and the ERENET - Entrepreneurship Research and Education Network of Central European Universities organized an international conference on Spirituality and Sustainability: A New Path for Entrepreneurship in September 21-23, 2012, Visegrad, Hungary.