Worker Universities

In this extract from a 1940 article, Cardijn proposes the development of “worker universities” to provide a philosophical, theological and cultural formation for former YCW leaders, going beyond the formation they had already received from the movement itself.

Soon after, Belgium was again invaded by Hitler’s troops, ending many of Cardijn’s dreams, including this one.

As far as I know, it was never revived, even after the war ended.

Is it time to think again of such a “worker university”?

Stefan Gigacz

Higher culture

In our country, as in neighboring countries, we have inaugurated “Universities of Work,” which are technical and utility formation centers for training machine operators, material processors, producers of material wealth.

The YCW has the ambition to open “universities for workers”. These will be centres of higher formation, where an increasingly large elite will receive a philosophical, theological and general culture, to which they aspire, thanks to the formation received in the Study Circles, Study Days, Study Weeks, thanks, above all, to this understanding contact with all the personal, family and social problems revealed by the Jocist apostolate.

These Jocist centers of superior culture will be for the best of our former leaders, providing the necessary preparation for their apostolate as heads of new working families and a new working class that the YCW has the ambition to give to the Church and the nation.

Already splendid examples have revealed the heights of persevering, enlightened and generous efforts. By multiplying and expanding them, the YCW will provide within the working class an aristocracy, not on the margins and above the masses, uprooted and exiled from within, but as a magnet that attracts and a lever that lifts the masses by its Beauty and Charity.


Joseph Cardijn, La JOC est une école (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)