2-year project yields faculty reflections on Catholic Intellectual Tradition

NEWPORT, R.I. – A two-year project fostered by Salve Regina University’s office of mission integration to explore 2,000 years of “Catholic Intellectual Tradition” has resulted in a 40-page collection of faculty reflections on the topic.

During the last two years, dozens of faculty participated in discussions on various aspects of the Catholic Intellectual Tradition (CIT). Topics included the mutual correlation between faith and reason, a sacramental vision affirming the potential of an academic discipline to reveal the sacred, reverence for the dignity of each human being as one created in the image of God, and openness to the mystery inherent in an evolving, unfinished creation.

“Through these lively and fruitful discussions, faculty awareness of the Catholic Intellectual Tradition was heightened,” said Dr. Leona Misto, vice president for mission integration. “Participants became more knowledgeable about how this tradition informs our thinking and, in particular, how the tradition enriches teaching and learning in the disciplines. The discussions motivated some to write a brief reflection on how they integrate the tradition in their respective disciplines.”

The writings of 22 faculty have been assembled and shared with the university community and the general public in a printed document that is also available for viewing on Salve Regina’s website at: http://www.salve.edu/Media/Website%20Resources/pdf/about/missionIntegration/Catholic_Intellectual_tradition.pdf

“While reading this publication, I believe you will find that the mission of Salve Regina University as a Catholic university in the Mercy tradition is integrated continuously into the fabric of our educational programs,” Misto said. “The reflections demonstrate clearly that the university faculty strives to ensure that our students understand their moral responsibilities to humankind and are prepared to search for truth throughout their lives.”

Some examples of faculty insights include the following:

It becomes the role of educators to not only rigorously study how consumer preferences and new technology are reshaping the communication environment and investigate how business can better adapt to the rapid changes, but also to simultaneously look at how business students can contribute at a deeper level. In such a fast-paced and evolving world, the tenets of the Catholic Intellectual Tradition provide a grounding perspective which helps students look not only at the dilemmas facing the business world, but rather on the impact of new technology on society as a whole. – Jennifer K. Bonoff, business studies and economics.

I aim to instill in my students an appreciation and understanding of the roots of the tradition. Toward that end, I teach key thinkers in the tradition, such as Plato, Aristotle, and St. Thomas. My hope for my students is that they might come to see how, from its very origins, the tradition aims at a profound understanding of the common good that is informed by both faith and reason. – Luigi Bradizza, political science.

If a liberal education is about seeking wisdom and discerning truth, then mathematics is right there in the center of that search. It is with mathematics that the natural world is described, from the periodic table to the orbits of planets. – Carol Gibbons, mathematical sciences.

While many Catholic universities can make a claim to modeling the Catholic intellectual tradition in an academic sense, Salve Regina University is in the unique position of being able to combine the Catholic intellectual tradition’s pursuit of truth with the Mercy mission of providing service to others. – William Leeman, history, American studies.

When it comes to important so¬cial issues today, any kind of credible ethical reflection is necessarily multi-disciplinary. Whether the subject is immigration reform, modern warfare, environmental stewardship, reproductive technologies, social networking, or virtually any contested issue, the perspectives of people with a variety of backgrounds have to be included if the ethical reflection is to be credible to a wide audience.- Anthony LoPresti, religious and theological studies.

Rooted in Theology and Philosophy, the CIT examines how faith and reason complement one an-other. By taking matters of faith seriously, the CIT avoids the secularist mindset that is now predominant in so many universities. At the same time, by taking reason and critical inquiry seriously, the CIT avoids a fundamentalist mentality that can become dominant in religious institutions. By striking this balance, the CIT enables students (and the rest of the university community) to be open to believing in God while engaging in the latest scientific research. – John Quinn, history.

***

Through teaching and research, Salve Regina University, a Catholic institution founded by the Sisters of Mercy that welcomes people of all beliefs, prepares men and women for responsible lives by imparting and expanding knowledge, developing skills and cultivating enduring values. Located on a picturesque campus in the historic city of Newport, R.I., the university serves approximately 2,600 men and women in pursuit of bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees a doctorate in humanities and a variety of certificate programs.