Last spring the Mount St. Mary’s faculty approved a smaller core curriculum, but one that is also more integrated. The innovative and ambitious plan carefully sequences courses so that students build knowledge from semester to semester in a logical, systematic way but also make connections across courses taken during the same semester. Most students will complete the core by the end of their junior year so they can concentrate on majors’ courses and career planning during their final year. The Theology Department is excited to contribute with three new courses, Belief in the Modern World, Encountering Christ and Ethics and the Human Good.
The first theology course, Belief in the Modern World, introduces students to the challenges of thinking about questions of belief in the context of today’s secular and pluralist world, especially in the American context. At a fundamental level, the course helps students grasp the relationship of faith and reason, perhaps the central task of a Catholic university. It builds directly on the challenges of epistemology that are explored in the modern philosophy course, but it approaches those questions more existentially and socio-culturally. Topics to be addressed include how we are able to speak about God, what it means to have faith, how to deal with the problem of evil, and how to connect personal belief with the Church, sacraments, and social issues. The course especially intersects with the new America and the World course, taken during the same semester, by helping students understand how Catholic theology differs from the dominant cultural forms of religious belief: privatized individualism and fundamentalism.
The second theology course, Encountering Christ, provides an introduction to the sources and methods of Christian theology, considering the revealed nature and activity of God and the history of human relationships with God. The main themes include Scripture, Jesus, Church, Sacraments, and the moral life. This course connects laterally with the Modernity courses which explore suffering in the modern world and secular culture.
The third theology course, Ethics and the Human Good, has a theology and a philosophy version with a common approach. The theology version situates the moral life and contemporary issues within the Catholic theological tradition. The course requires interdisciplinary work, particularly in relation to each student’s major and/or prospective career. As part of the core curriculum, the theology version includes seminal works in the philosophical tradition, from authors like Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas. This offering compliments Global Encounters courses, which examine moral issues from a variety of cultural and geographical settings.
Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Peter Dorsey, said, “The Mount has always placed great emphasis on giving our students common educational experiences, and the new core builds upon this tradition. To make this happen, the theology department really stepped up to the plate, discovering new ways to enrich the academic journeys of all our students.”
Chair of the Theology Department, Fr. James Donohue, C.R., adds, “Each of the theology courses helps us fulfill the undergraduate mission ‘to graduate men and women who cultivate a mature spiritual life . . . who respect the dignity of other persons, and who see and seek to resolve the problems facing humanity.’ Examining belief in the world today, learning more about the Bible and Jesus, and pondering the ethical implications of a life well lived are foundational blocks that will help us fulfill the exciting mission of preparing Mount graduates for the Church and the world.”