Catholic Studies Minor

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As Sacred Heart University progresses into the 21st century and establishes itself as a leader among institutions of higher education in the exploration and scholarship of the Catholic Intellectual Traditions, it will be necessary to articulate that exploration and scholarship formally within the context of its undergraduate curriculum.  This proposal recommends an interdisciplinary minor in Catholic Studies as a welcome locus for that specific course of undergraduate study.

Although it might seem redundant to establish a concentration in Catholic Studies within the curriculum of an institution founded on and grounded in the history, scholarship, and intellectual tradition of the Roman Catholic Church, the minor in Catholic Studies will serve to articulate in a very specific way and with precise thoroughness the depth of the Catholic Intellectual Traditions across the curricula of study.  That Tradition is, as explained by John Paul II in the selected quotation (above) from Fides et Ratio, consists both of a faith life enriched by the exercise of human reason and of a "desire to know the truth," which truth has as its natural end the realization of God, that is, apprehending the authentic presence of the Divine Mystery in all things.  The Catholic Intellectual Traditions, therefore, is a form of learning and teaching that is both consequential and teleological: that is, the Traditions posit that all learning (and, to no small degree, all instruction) has moral and spiritual consequence, and all learning (and instruction) is informed by its natural (and ultimate) end which is the revealed Truth that is God.

The community of believers and participants in the Catholic Intellectual Traditions/ the Catholic faith has, over space and time, contributed its reflection on and understanding of that Truth and those constitutive truths in many divergent modes of expression and according to the parameters of distinct disciplines: fine arts, literature, historiography, political theory, health care and science, social justice practices and ethical theory, religious ritual and symbolism, theology, popular cultures and varying media, and theories of commerce.  As stated above, a cornerstone of Catholic Intellectual Traditions is the necessary correlation between what is believed as truth/ what is sought as truth, and the modalities of that search: what one does; how one expresses oneself; where one places moral signification in the course of creation or examination. 

The minor in Catholic Studies will engage students in a sustained program of deliberate study of and reflection on the correlative of the Catholic Intellectual Traditions in terms of distinct modalities, with the addition of an introductory course of study in the theory and meaning of Catholic Studies and a final seminar course that will serve as the capstone to the specific distribution of courses for each candidate’s program of study in the Catholic Studies minor.

The following list of courses from the College of Arts and Sciences suggests a representative sampling of both permanent and frequent departmental offerings available to the minor in Catholic Studies: it should be noted that only course sections that have been also cross-listed with a 'CaS' designation are applicable to the minor

  • AN 299  Special Topics: Native Americans and Catholicism
  • EN 299  Special Topics: Dante
  • EN 299  Rhetoric of Social Justice
  • EN 310  British Literature to 1610
  • EN 312  17thc. British Literature
  • EN 314  Ethnic American Fiction
  • HI 218   ModernFrance
  • HI 228   The Immigrant Experience
  • HI 252   Medieval History
  • HI 254   Renaissance and Reformation
  • HI 299   Special Topics: MedievalSpain
  • HI 299   Special Topics: Catholicism inAmerica
  • MS 299  Special Topics: Catholicism and the Media
  • MU 299 Special Topics: Music of the Catholic Church (now permanent course)
  • PH 221   History of Philosophy I
  • PH  241  Medieval Philosophy
  • PH 245   Philosophy ofSt. Augustine
  • PH 283   Philosophical Theology
  • PH 383   Philosophy of Thomas Aquinas
  • RS 212   Christology
  • RS 220   Women in Christianity
  • RS 238   Spiritual Teachers
  • RS 242   Medieval Theology
  • RS 243   Early Christian Thought
  • RS 245   Contemporary Roman Catholic Thought
  • RS 247   Christian-Jewish Relationships andContemporaryChurchTeachings
  • RS 259   Faith and Justice
  • RS 267   Mysticism
  • RS 268   Classics of Western Spirituality
  • RS 289   Religion, War and Peace
  • RS 299   Special Topics: Paul and theEarlyChurch(offered annually)
  • RS 299   Special Topics: Pilgrimage
  • RS 299   Special Topics: Moral Theology of John Paul II and Benedict XVI
  • RS 301   The Church: Roman Catholic Perspectives
  • RS 302   The Sacraments
  • SP 299   Special Topics: The Cultures of MedievalSpain

At the discretion of each departmental Chair, 'Special Topics' 299 courses can be converted into regular course offerings.

Learning Goals

At the completion of each course in Catholic Studies, including the capstone course, the student seeking a minor in Catholic Studies will be able to:

  • explain in detail one significant Roman Catholic doctrine and evaluate how the contents of the course curriculum variously interpreted and expressed that doctrine within the context of the Catholic Intellectual Traditions.
  • describe and analyze at least two significant themes characteristic of the Catholic Intellectual Traditions as reflected in the course materials, using discipline-specific sources and methods.
  • evaluate critically the role of Catholic institutions, persons, movements and/or ideas in a discrete historical, philosophical, artistic and/or cultural period, according to discipline- specific sources and methodologies.
  • explore, analyze and synthesize connection of at least one of the previous three goals between two or among more than two designated Catholic Studies courses in each student’s specific program of study.

Structural Sequence of Minor

  • The minor in Catholic Studies will consist of six courses, or eighteen credits.
  • All students seeking a minor in Catholic Studies will be required to take a foundation course: CaS 101: Foundations of the Catholic Intellectual Tradition, to be housed in the Department of Religious Studies and taught by its faculty.
  • Students are required to select any two from the following core courses: PH 221; PH 241; PH 283; RS 242; RS 245; RS 268.
  • The remaining three courses must be selected from at least two (2) distinct disciplines, but overall the minor course of study should include no more than three (3) courses in any one discipline.
  • All students seeking a minor in Catholic Studies must complete the minor with an Independent Study capstone course and capstone paper.  The candidate for the minor in Catholic Studies has full discretion in the selection of department for the Independent Study; however, the Director of the minor must be able to participate in the criteria for the capstone paper.  The purpose of the Capstone course and paper is to afford the candidate for the minor an opportunity to integrate each individual CaS minor's academic history of the Catholic Intellectual Tradition in Catholic Studies courses into a systematic and meaningful curricula of readings and scholarship.

Assessment of Minor Course of Study

The Capstone paper is meant to fulfill two requirements: afford the student a 'place' to assess personal understanding of the Catholic Intellectual Traditions and allow the student a venue to explore critically major themes of the Catholic Intellectual Traditions, inclusive of other courses in the minor.  The director of the minor, as well as other identified faculty mentors, can offer assistance and guidance to the student for the latter aspect of the capstone paper, if the instructor so prefers.  The director, along with each instructor, will encourage each CaS minor candidate to consider the capstone paper as a potential submission for writing contests as well as for (student) publications.

At the completion of the capstone project for the minor, CaS students will asked to participate in a presentation ceremony that will be held at the end of the academic year, to which all CaS minor candidates, as well as interested faculty and staff will be invited.  During the ceremony, CaS students will each present a short talk on their minor course of study and offer a summary of and reflection on their capstone paper, after which each CaS student will be available for Q&A from the audience.  At the close of the entire ceremony, each CaS minor will receive a certificate in honor of their accomplishment.

For more information, contact June-Ann Greeley at 203-371-7713 or email