What we are attempting to do in the Dignitas program is to provide a foundation for learning and living together at The College of St. Scholastica. Many of us also believe that this foundation can provide a basis for a personal life of meaning and joy, and the basis for a global, communal life of justice and human flourishing. Such a foundation is not learned in one lesson, one class, or even one semester. Therefore, the dimensions of the Catholic Intellectual Tradition (CIT) should be seen as a project of the entire year of Dignitas, rather than something that should be learned in one module or unit.
The CIT is inextricably connected to the concept of dignity, the appreciation of diversity, our Benedictine values, and Catholic social teaching. Exploring the multiple connections among these core concepts should be at the heart of our teaching in every class. In every class period, effort should be made to highlight or reflect on one or several of our core topics, showing the relationships among them and the practical challenges we face in living them fully.
This kind of focus on our core topics can be achieved in simple ways. A brief five- minute reflective writing activity might end each class session with a question: How did this class help us understand human dignity? or diversity? or the Catholic intellectual tradition? or Catholic social teaching? or our Benedictine values? You might assign a two-page reflection paper at two or three points in the year with the question: “What are the three most important things you have learned so far about human dignity, diversity, our Benedictine values, the Catholic intellectual tradition, or Catholic social teaching? Why do you think these learnings are important? How do you envision these learnings might have an impact on your personal or professional life?
In particular, I recommend that you approach the CIT with this attitude of seeing connections to the other core concepts of our work together. The article I have written and provided for student reading, reflection and discussion is quite brief. There are many ways you might deepen the reflection on these dimensions of the CIT. You might ask students to bring examples of these dimensions from the newspaper or news programs over the course of the week. You might ask them to find how these dimensions of our tradition are applied in the student life and academic policies and procedures of CSS. You might have a discussion about whether or not these dimensions of the CIT are counter-cultural or being supported in our current culture. They might bring examples from popular magazines and music to back up their perspective.
Here are some additional sources that might be helpful in exploring particular aspects of the CIT. This is just a toe dipped in the water of the resources that are available to open our minds and hearts to a deeper understanding of these key dimensions of the Catholic Intellectual Tradition. I hope that one of things we can do in our community of Dignitas faculty is to accumulate a rich treasure trove of resources to share with each other. The search for truth serves human dignity:
Dr. Kevin Vaughan, the SME in CIT, is the Director of the Braegelman Program in Catholic Studies. Originally from Guelph, Ontario, Canada, Dr. Vaughan received a BAHon in Philosophy from the University of Toronto and went on to receive an MA in Theology from the University of Dallas, and a PhD in Theology from the University of St. Michael's College, a member school of the Toronto School of Theology. Dr. Vaughan's research interests lie within the area of Christian spirituality and focus on the relationship between faith and the imagination. Dr. Vaughan also has extensive experience in Residence Life, where he served as a mentor and role model for a diverse community of college undergraduates.
Contact Info for Dr. Kevin Vaughan:
Position: Director of the Braegelman Program in Catholic Studies
Office: Tower 4409
Office phone #: 218-723-6047