Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Two cool liberal arts programs

I've recently become aware of two nifty Catholic liberal arts programs at Catholic colleges. The first is the Liberal Studies major at Holy Cross College at Notre Dame, Indiana. It was developed and is run by Dr. Jeffrey Langan, a political philosopher. I especially like this one because it is progressive, moving from literature to history and politics to philosophy and theology:

We begin by developing our perspective through the lens of literature. The first liberal studies courses introduce us to the multifaceted problems of the human condition as we encounter them in literary works such as J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, Homer's Iliad and Odyssey , and Fyodor Dostoevsky's Brothers Karamazov and Demons.

We next examine problems taken from history and politics. Students take three courses in which they will examine the foundations of politics. American politics will be examined first, in particular and democracies in general with works by authors such as Roberl Dahl, Alexis de Toqueville, and Orestes Brownson. Second, we will examine the problems of politics throughout history in the writings of Thucydides, Polybius, and Machiavelli. Third, we survey the birth and extension of modern political thought, in particular drawing from authors such as Thomas More, Pascal, and Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

After literature and politics, liberal studies majors will enter the world of philosophy. Philosophy helps students integrate their entire Holy Cross experience into a unified whole. Students will examine problems related to the human person, the soul, God and the world in three courses. First, in the course on the soul, they will examine the central questions about the meaning of human existence with authors such as Dante, Aquinas, Plato and Aristotle. Second, they will examine the problems associated God and politics through Augustine's the City of God, and Aquinas' political writings. Third, they will examine how the wisdom that they have gained from their liberal studies courses could provide principles for transforming society through meditation on Aquinas' Treatise on God as well as Plato's Republic and Laws.

You not only follow the sequence of courses, but you also have a concentration in another discipline (not exactly a major, but helpful in preparing for graduate school in a particular discipline).

The other program is the Humanities and Catholic Culture major at Franciscan University of Steubenville. According to one student of the program of my acquaintance, the founder is trying to recreate a medieval liberal education.
Over the course of four years, you’ll study history, theology, philosophy, literature, economics, and political thought, discovering how each has played an integral role in the creation and disintegration of culture through the centuries. You’ll also see how each has affected the human person—how man lives, sees himself, and interacts with others. Above all, you’ll come to see how religion has bound all the other elements of culture together, shaping it, directing it, and guiding it to its proper ends.
The keynote of the program is an integration in theological reflection on all reality.

[W]hat you’ll learn as an HCC major is how to see. You’ll learn to see the beauty and wisdom that comes from the integration of faith and reason. And you’ll learn to see the tragedy and terror that comes from the separation of faith and reason. You’ll learn how to see reality—to see man and the world as they truly are.

I would be happy to teach in either of these programs. I think this kind of education is necessary in our day to recuperate sane thinking (although I acknowledge with Fr. James Schall, S.J. that it is possible to get this kind of education through a rigorous reading program).

No comments: