The European SPES Institute is an international network of individuals and organizations promoting spirituality in economic and social life. It is our belief at the European SPES Institute that spiritually motivated actors who define success in multidimensional and holistic terms may serve the common good of nature, future generations and society. The mission of the European SPES Institute is expressed in the key word of SPES, being on the one hand an acronym for ‘SPirituality in Economics and Society’ and, on the other hand, the Latin word for Hope, the virtue that sustains our belief in a better future. Spirituality is defined in broad and pluralistic terms so that the European SPES Institute may bring together people from different spiritual backgrounds and traditions. We understand spirituality as people’s multiform search for meaning interconnecting them with all living beings and to 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. The European SPES Institute stands for a spiritual-based humanism which, among others, European ‘personalist’ philosophers have defended on philosophical grounds.
The European SPES Institute (formerly the European SPES Forum) was founded in 2004 in Leuven. It is part of the SPES Forum vzw, a formal non-profit organization under Belgian law. Its activities are led by a steering committee and chaired by a president. Every three year, during its annual conference the president and the steering committee are (re)elected by the the members of the Institute and appointed by the Governing Board of the SPES Forum vzw.
The origin of SPES goes back to the year 2000 where it was started as a ‘personalist studygroup’ in the Center for Economics and Ethics (Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium) in cooperation with the Center for Ethics (University of Antwerp, Belgium). In 2004 as SPES Forum vzw it became an autonomous nonprofit organization under Belgian law. The initiative was successful and resulted in setting up the Belgian SPES Academy (2004) and the European SPES forum (2004).