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June 4, 2015

I wonder what good a $400 million gift for an engineering school might have done. Perhaps it might have helped found a school of engineering at a new university in East Africa to help lift a population out of poverty. Or it might have funded efforts to support women in engineering, especially since that field is drastically underpopulated by women. Alternatively, it might have gone to a university in Central or South America, since that part of the world does not have… Read more

June 1, 2015

Amidst the eros for metrics in higher education, it is easy to lose focus on what is at heart an act of faith on the part of the teacher: expending much energy and effort to try to reach the soul of the student. Our work is never solely communication of information and knowledge: books and (duh) the internet make this possible quite without our intervention. The text is really only the pre-text: what we do is use a subject in… Read more

May 19, 2015

From John Henry Newman: The mind ranges to and fro, and spreads out and advances forward with a quickness which has become a proverb, and a subtlety and versatility which baffle investigation. It passes on from point to point, gaining one by some indication; another by probability; then availing itself of an association; then falling back upon some received law; next seizing on some inward instinct, or some obscure memory; and thus it makes progress not unlike a clamberer on… Read more

May 4, 2015

Katarina Schuth, O.S.F., the Endowed Chair for the Social Scientific Study of Religion at the University of St. Thomas (MN), explores the impact of different cultures on the intellectual life of Catholic universities in the new issue of Integritas. Her essay raises a critical question: in this age of globalization, what ought to be the role of universities in promoting mutual understanding among peoples? Specifically, how ought Catholic universities rise to this challenge? Reflecting on her essay, I recalled the… Read more

April 30, 2015

In light of the situation that has unfolded in Baltimore in recent days, we who work in the contexts of Catholic colleges and universities must ask, once again, about how our work contributes to a more just, and therefore more peaceful, world. Last December, I and many colleagues who teach Catholic theology signed a statement of racial justice in response to what unfolded in Ferguson, Missouri, and elsewhere. That statement cited Pope Francis’s words in Evangelii Gaudium: until exclusion and inequality… Read more

April 24, 2015

Over at Commonweal, Jackson Lears, the Board of Governors Professor of History at Rutgers University, has written an insightful review of the book Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life, by William Deresiewicz. Deresiewicz, a former member of Yale’s English faculty and a past member of its admissions committee, has written frequently in the Chronicle of Higher Education about the state of liberal arts in the United States. The thesis of Deresiewicz’s book is that… Read more

April 7, 2015

UCA News offers a compelling story of Rusty Quintana, a once-homeless boy who graduated from Jesuit-run Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines. Reflecting on his journey, Rusty told a reporter for UCA News of what it takes to do what he did. You don’t need money to get off. You need a mountain of desire to get off the street. His story involved fleeing from an unsafe home and living off coins begged from people outside the gates of the… Read more

March 30, 2015

At the heart of any intellectual exercise is meaning-making. Whether I am using a microscope or a telescope, an ancient text or a new survey, a legal document or a recorded conversation, my desire to make meaning out of the raw material reflects something fundamental about being a homo sapiens, a “wise person.”  What is the meaning of our meaning-making? What is it about our spontaneous ability and drive to raise questions about the world? Why do we hunger for… Read more

March 26, 2015

Catholic universities are in a position to impact one of the areas of great need and challenge in the world: ecology. Our universities are centers of research in disciplines as disparate as biology, geology/geoscience, philosophy, theology, literature, political science, and so on. The combined efforts of scholars across disciplines are sorely needed to face a challenge that transcends any one discipline. Some time in the next several months, Pope Francis will release an encyclical on the environment. Two weeks ago,… Read more


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