Catholic Economists in Universities. Part 2: Excerpts from Interviews with Catholic Economists from North America

This is the second of two posts on how Catholic economists see their work. The posts are published in celebration of World Catholic Education Day on May 26, 2022, and within the context of the Global Compact on Education called for by Pope Francis. Quentin Wodon is a Lead Economist at the World Bank and a Distinguished Research Affiliate with the College of Business at Loyola University New Orleans.

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Research in Service of Catholic Education – Part II: Interviews with Friends and Colleagues of Professor Grace

In the interview with Professor Grace mentioned in Part I of this post, I asked him about the areas where he believed more research was needed. He suggested three main areas: (i) Catholic Education and service for the Poor; (ii) the effectiveness of the spiritual, moral and social cultures of Catholic schools; (iii) the education and formation of Catholic school leaders and teachers. These themes are echoed by his friends and colleagues in interviews conducted over the last six months that are available in a compilation from the Global Catholic Education project. The interviews are organized around the following questions:

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Service learning and social justice – a new innovation at St. Mary’s University

St. Mary’s University is launching a new degree programme. It is coming to the end of its validation process and will be formally “on the books” from February. Students will be able to join the programme from September 2022, but they can apply now. For the next month, we are currently advertising it “subject to validation” as the regulations require. The programme is probably unique in the UK. It will be called: “MA in Social Justice and Public Service”. 

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Adding diversity to the university

stained glass

Globally, there are 1,400 Catholic universities. They make a substantial contribution to the intellectual life of the Church. However, there are few Catholic higher education institutions in the UK. There is a reason for this. After the hierarchy was restored in England and Wales, the focus was on building schools and then churches without much thought being given to higher education. Indeed, most of our Catholic higher education institutions evolved from teacher training colleges.

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No salvation in fiscal policy

Yesterday, I ended a presentation to sixth-formers by commenting that nobody would want to be Rishi Sunak. Of course, in the strict sense that is not true – indeed, many of the people to whom I was talking might well have had ambitions to be Chancellor of the Exchequer. What I meant was that the Chancellor was facing the most difficult combination of circumstances of anybody in his position since the mid-1970s.

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Citizenship and Education

In this post I explore citizenship education through the lens of Catholic teaching on education. I also make reference to Pope Leo XIII’s teaching on citizenship. I show that there is such a thing as a Christian ‘idea’ of citizenship. This might not sit comfortably in a society which seeks to marginalise (intentionally or unintentionally), the Christian voice.

Citizenship, education and religion 

How citizenship education in the Catholic school is both understood and taught makes it a crucial feature of the contemporary educational scene.

 

Citizenship education flows from a political or civic desire to build community cohesion – universally deemed a ‘good thing’. How to promote, far less achieve, this in a multi-cultural society remains problematic.

 

For some, citizenship education is a ‘secular’ version of religious education: values emerge, it seems, from reason alone without a concomitant contribution from revealed religion. Although religious belief and practice should be fundamental parts of citizenship education, contemporary articulations of citizenship education minimise discussion of the difficult issues arising from religious faith or identity. Nonetheless, the number of children of all faiths and none who are educated in Catholic schools should place the Catholic school not at the margins but at the heart of citizenship education.

 

Religions, of course, are an expression of diversity. This leads to the following question: is contemporary education a means of monopolising thought and values within a conceptual framework which purports to be inclusive but, intentionally or otherwise, fails in this objective?

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