Great Challenges

Strengthens Student and the World

Great Challenges CurriculumMinors allow students to explore subjects they’re passionate about; expand their knowledge; better train for the future; and, often, show more clearly who they are. The minors that make up Sacred Heart’s Great Challenges Program also give students opportunities to change the world.

New for the fall of 2012 and designed to expose students in their sophomore year or higher to “some of the great challenges of our times,” the minors focus on broad, timely, challenging topics, such as:

  • Civics and Civil Society
  • Ecology and the Global Community
  • Equality, Wealth and Philanthropy

Classes include both electives and those required as part of Sacred Heart’s signature Common Core, which engages students in multidisciplinary learning related to both arts and sciences and the Catholic intellectual tradition. Topics students and faculty tackle together in these classes include passion-raising subjects like courage, democracy and friendship, as well as those focused on timeless philosophical questions like “What does it mean to be human?” and “What does it mean to forge a more just society for the common good?”

For some, these subjects may at first seem as impractical as they are existential. But as Sacred Heart’s Seamus Carey, professor of Philosophy, explains, a rigorous and rich liberal arts education helps students discover who they are, find their unique voices and passions and develop concern for the world as well as inspires students to work toward the common good.

Great challenges also often lead to great rewards, Carey added, and in the case of the Great Challenges Program, the rewards are very practical, real-world ones.

“Yes, it’s idealistic to tell students that if they learn about these topics they might one day change the world, but why wouldn’t we want to be idealistic?” asked Carey, dean of Sacred Heart’s College of Arts and Sciences. “We can't change things if we can’t imagine how we believe they should be. Also, if you know where the problems are in the world, you can better identify where jobs are going to be. The Great Challenges program actually makes a liberal arts education more practical, in that it shows students where there’s the potential for job growth and, following the tenants of a Catholic education, the potential to work to make a difference in the world.”

Also practical is how Sacred Heart has constructed the program. Although each minor includes a 3-credit, out-of-the-classroom practicum – an internship, special project, research study or independent-study – for most students, electives needed to complete their major will cover most of the requirements for the minor. Great Challenges classes also come from all fields of study, including the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, religion and philosophy.

The critical thinking and problem-solving required to succeed in Great Challenges classes are also designed to help prepare undergraduates to become distinctive, responsible leaders, qualities that will only make students more competitive and effective when they enter their chosen professions.