Teaching at a Jesuit university
At the University of Scranton, I am teaching at an institution established in 1888 and maintained since 1942 by the Society of Jesus, a Catholic religious order with a long academic history. Although neither professors nor students are required to be members of the faith, the university does take pains to maintain its Catholic and Jesuit identity within an inclusive, pluralistic, and academically free community.
After seeking advice from a local member of the Jesuit order, Fr. Ron McKinney, I have developed a syllabus statement designed to make explicit for my students how my teaching relates to the university's heritage.
How This Course Fits into a Jesuit Education
The Jesuit or "Ignatian" educational tradition embraced by the University of Scranton says that all learning has an essential unity. It aims to improve and care for the whole person (a principle you have heard called the cura personalis) as well as the larger community. To do this, it should engage the imagination as well as the reason in order to enlarge your freedom to act creatively for the greater good.
In more explicitly Catholic terms, the Jesuit educational tradition says education should be "for the greater glory of God" (ad majorem Dei gloriam) and we should "find God in everything." You do not have to be Catholic to embrace this core idea. It means there should be no artificial separation among different branches of knowledge. They are all ways to understand and improve creation, taking the paths that allow each of us to exercise the greatest beneficial influence. Education should leave us not only smarter, but also morally better—and it should help us enlist others in making the world better as well.
In keeping with this tradition, [Course Name] is designed to offer an integrated view of diverse human experiences and to nurture curiosity about humanity at large. Throughout the semester, as you study other people's lives, this course will challenge you to participate in the three key dimensions of Jesuit education: experience, reflection, and action. You will use evidence about the past as a basis for frequent acts of imagination, and you will reflect on what these creative experiences of the past mean for your own life and for positive action in the world today.