Monday, May 11, 2009

Catholic Colleges and Required Courses

It has been announced that the University of San Francisco, USF, is doing away with its MA in theology program.  Two reasons were given: it is losing money and the 'pastoral ministries' program at Santa Clara (home of old acquaintance Fr. Warren, S.J.-who led me on a personal Ignatian retreat years ago) essentially does the same thing, allegedly.  

An excerpt from an article that addresses this move by USF: But, he said, the university needs to adapt to all of its students - 71 percent of whom are not Catholic.

"I'm not sure that forcing students into a Catholic theology course is appropriate if the student is Muslim, Hindu or Jewish," he said. In the core curriculum, "what we are trying to do is evoke from students sensitivity to the mystery and reality of God."

Undergraduate students seemed to agree with Privett.[Privett is the president of USF]

I'm curious to hear from seems to me that a public school which requires a class in psychology or history or art or music or economics or political science would be forcing or foisting a potentially offensive course upon their students as well.  I'd say it is even worse, by such reasoning, for a public school to have such least a Catholic/Jesuit school has a clear, sectarian history, mission, and identity which its students applied and requested to enter and and take part.  What about Public Elementary and High Schools that require a course in World Religions and allow non-Muslims to educate the young on Muslim precepts?   

Why would anyone want to consider themselves Catholic if the "mystery and reality of God" were not something they considered absolute and certain?  If an institution has been around for 2000 years and it doesn't have any certainty of its 'core curriculum' then why is it around?

My thought on USF...If you don't think it is fitting to require the students that voluntarily enroll in a Catholic school to be reasonably well-informed of Catholicism, what do you think must be required core curricula at a Catholic institution?  Is history required?  Is Literature required?  If education pursues truth and knowledge, what role does Catholicism play in all things objective and absolute, such as truth.  Didn't someone ask the same thing of Christ, What is truth, some 2000 years ago?   

1 comment:

  1. I think that if the college is Catholic it should promote Catholic beliefs. If a person does not want to learn Catholic theology then there is the choice for the student not to attend the Catholic College. There are many other college choices for the student to choose from. Why should a Catholic college be forced to abandon its beliefs just becuse it does not want to offend anyone? I believe that a Catholic College can respect other beliefs while also teaching their own beliefs.