The Catholic Intellectual Tradition: Challenges and Opportunities for the Catholic University in the 21st Century

The Catholic Intellectual Tradition: Challenges and Opportunities for the Catholic University in the 21st Century

April 16-18, 2020 | Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, CT

Keynote Speakers | Call for PapersRegistrationHotel AccommodationsTravel | Contact

Globe on top of books statueSupported by a grant from the Lilly Fellows Network, Sacred Heart University and Seton hall University are offering a Conference on the Catholic Intellectual Tradition for Catholic Universities in the 21st Century. The Core of a Catholic University is its intellectual and faith life. However, Catholic colleges and universities, today, face vexing challenges: a growing secularism and careerism among students, an increasing number of students who identify as “nones”, a “hyper-specialization” among faculty and an epistemology of relativism within disciplinary thought, and a diminishing focus on Mission and Catholic Identity. Faced with these challenges, Catholic colleges and universities wrestle with the question of how to maintain a robust and distinct Catholic identity that will prevail across the institution. This Conference affirms that the compass that can serve as a creative guide for transforming Catholic higher education is the Catholic Intellectual Tradition which, characterized by rigorous intellectual inquiry and with rich roots in the past, animates an ongoing conversation in the present that looks to the future.

We invite conference paper proposals or roundtable discussion topics that engage the Conference themes.

Keynote Speakers

  • "Engaging the Catholic Intellectual Tradition: How Research in All Disciplines Can be Enriched By Encounter with the Tradition”
    Gregory Kalscheur, S.J., J.D., Dean, Boston College, Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences
  • “Catholic University and Mission: A Primer for Leadership and Development”
    Carolyn Woo, Ph.D., Distinguished President’s Fellow for Global Development, Purdue University; former President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services; former Dean, University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business
  • “The Catholic Imagination: Poets and Artists”
    Michael Higgins, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Catholic Thought, Sacred Heart University; former president and Vice Chancellor of St. Thomas University; Professor of English and Religious Studies
  • “Justice Within and Beyond the University Walls”
    Gerald. J. Beyer, Ph.D., Professor of Theology, Villanova University

Call for Papers

Sacred Heart University and Seton Hall University invite papers or roundtable discussions that engage the overall Conference topic or any of the following questions:

  • What is the Catholic Intellectual Tradition in a 21st century, global context?
  • How can traditional writers, thinkers, artists of the CIT speak to contemporary concerns?
  • How are new voices, especially women or other previous marginalized groups, developing the conversation of the CIT?
  • How can topics and issues of gender, sexuality, multi-culturalism shape the conversation of the CIT?
  • How do we bring this intellectual tradition and its ongoing conversation to every discipline, major, and professional program?
  • How can we use curriculum and pedagogy that show students how this Tradition relates to their lives and their contemporary world?
  • How can the CIT help bridge disciplines within the liberal arts?
  • How can the CIT make a difference in the professional health, business, law, or nursing programs beyond the inclusion of ethics?
  • How can the CIT inform or shape the work of primary or secondary education?
  • How does this Tradition inform and shape the Mission of a Catholic University?
  • How can Mission utilize the CIT help shape the overall intellectual culture of the University?
  • How does the CIT shape the University’s commitment to social justice and service to the local and global community?
  • How can the CIT become part of student life and student conversations outside the classroom?
  • How can the CIT engage non-Catholic, non-Christian, or “Nones” in meaningful conversation? What kinds of programs, events, curriculum could be developed?

Send proposals (500 word maximum) to by November 1, 2019.


Registration for the conference is $125 per person (or $100 per person if more than one person from an institution is attending). Registration includes all meals, keynote talks, reception and snacks.

Register online

Hotel Accommodations

A room block has been secured at the Circle Hotel Fairfield for the SHU CIT Lilly Conference from April 15, 2020 - April 18, 2020 at the special rate of $95 plus tax per night. Reservations can be made by calling the hotel directly and mentioning the group to receive the discount! Reservations can also be made online by visiting, clicking on Reserve Now, and entering the group code "SHL20" where appropriate to receive the special rate. Reservations will be accepted under the group up until March 26, 2020.

Book Your Hotel


SHU’s convenient Fairfield, CT location makes traveling to and from the campus simple! From our campus, you can jump on a Metro North or Amtrak train, take the ferry to Long Island or grab a bus to another destination. The University is also located in close proximity to several major airports, making any long distance travel a breeze.

Wherever and whenever you need to travel, getting to and from SHU could not be easier!

View all methods of transportation


Conference Email:

Conference Assistant: Deanna Bradshaw, 203-396-8020

Conference Co-Director: Dan Rober

Conference Co-Director: Brent Little

Sacred Heart University  ACCU 
Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts Seton Hall University