For the past 10 years I have been in what the Jesuits would call a period of “formation.” I have traveled extensively, immersed in the lives of the poor and marginalized. From my first trip to Honduras, I was smitten. I fell in love with the poor. They treat me like a queen, treasure my words, my hugs, my love. In many ways, from the Kibera slum in Nairobi, to the refugee camp in Malawi, the people at the margins are much the same. They are peaceful, oddly content, hopeful, and energized, even though they suffer intense economic injustice. There is so much to learn from them! How can we work together to turn the economic pyramid upside down?
Over these years I have published a good bit of research on the Integrative Justice Model (IJM), a normative ethical framework for just economic exchange (Santos and Laczniak, 2009). Theoretically grounded in moral philosophy, Catholic Social Teaching, and contemporary management theory, the IJM was initially designed to guide multinational marketers racing to profit from the “Fortune at the Base of the Pyramid” (Prahalad, 2004).
The IJM is well-suited for what one might call “justice auditing.” I have taught upwards of 1,000 young adults how to use the IJM to evaluate fairness in marketplace exchange. Now, how can these young alums serve their communities and corporations as auditors of justice, from economic, social and environmental perspectives? I envision a bustling, collaborative workplace with a small staff of research leaders who work with the marginalized poor to help them amplify their own voices to transform their quality of life.
The tools are collected, the toolbox is full. Now I need to pick it up and carry it to the job site. Strangely, the next job site suddenly became my own country, the U.S.