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Moral Inquiry & Catholic Intellectual Traditions: Catholic Intellectual Traditions (3 credits)

Catholic Intellectual Traditions


Engagement with the rich traditions, notably the theological and philosophical traditions, that both emerged from and shaped Catholicism, will add value to a liberal education through the rigorous interdisciplinary exploration of enduring questions.  Catholic theology constructs and assumes an anthropology where the message of faith can be understood and engaged in an intellectually reasonable way.  In other words, there is no pure theology, only theological anthropology, since the central task of theology is to inquire into the enduring questions that shape the human experience.  As a discipline, theology lends itself to interdisciplinary inquiry and serves to bring other disciplines into conversation on a range of contemporary issues and topics.  CIT courses will invite students into these conversations so that each student will have a sustained, critical engagement with Catholic thought and practice.

CIT Learning Outcomes


Courses fulfilling the CIT Requirement, though different in topics and approaches, generally will aim for depth of engagement into a few theologically rich areas of the tradition rather than breadth of coverage of all the areas of theology.  They will all explore such questions as:

  • What is the meaning of human nature?
  • What is the best human life to live?
  • What is the nature of the universe?
  • What is the place of human beings in the universe?
  • What are possible responses to meaninglessness, pain, loss, and evil?
  • How ought humans to live as a community and for what purpose?
  • How have humans imagined holiness, goodness, and beauty and for what purpose?
  • How can humans live authentically in a globalized and pluralistic world?
  • How can humans live sustainable lives in a harmed and precarious global environment? 
  • How do notions of God and religious faith inform responses to all of these questions?

Key Outcomes

  • Critical inquiry. Engage with the rich traditions and questions that both emerged from and shaped Catholicism.
  • Dialogue and discourse.  Engage in conversation a range of theological, philosophical historical, or contemporary issues and make meaningful connections to public and/or scholarly discourse.
  • Critical reading and analysis. Develop the ability to contextualize and critically analyze primary and secondary sources in print and electronic formats.
  • Argument and expression.  Develop the ability to set forth clear, well-supported, and persuasive arguments, orally and in writing.  Develop the ability to write essays that reflect knowledge of essential facts and a command of analytical and writing skills.

Evidence of Student Learning

Students demonstrate competence in this area through active contributions to class discussions, oral presentations, short writing assignments, examinations, and several formal papers. Other possibilities include participation in community-based learning activities, service, and creative projects.

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