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Seton Hall University

Praxis Program of Advanced Seminar on Mission

Praxis Program In Spring 2013, the Center for Vocation and Servant Leadership (CVSL) initiated the Praxis Pilot of the Advanced Seminar on Mission, co-sponsored with the Center for Catholic Studies (CCS) , the Bernard J. Lonergan Institute. The Praxis Program is an advanced faculty development program designed to foster personal, professional, organizational and institutional development for faculty and administrators at Seton Hall, who are graduates of two previous mission seminars. It was designed to answer the participants' question: how do I apply the learnings of the Advanced Seminar on Mission to my disciplines/professions in light of the mission of Seton Hall University?

Its purpose is to engage faculty and administrators in a process of peer mentoring and curricular/co-curricular support designed to apply the mission of the University to their respective disciplines and departments, through a method which connects the disciplines to each other, to an integrated understanding of knowledge, and to the Catholic Intellectual Tradition.

We have approached the meaning of the mission of Seton Hall University as the intellectual conversion that occurs here, the journey of the human spirit to truth and meaning, through focus on academic excellence and ethical development, engaging in the intellectual, personal and spiritual development of our students, and therefore of ourselves.

The program provides an understanding and practical application of Bernard J. F. Lonergan's Generalized Empirical Method (GEM) as an effective way to apply the mission of the University to the disciplines/professions. GEM highlights the general method of the human spirit as it gives rise to the specialized methods of the sciences and scholarly disciplines, as well as opens out to questions of meaning, community, progress and decline in history, religion and revelation. Such a method acknowledges the proper autonomy of the sciences and scholarly disciplines, but it is also able to consider them within the higher viewpoint of faith. Lonergan, a Jesuit philosopher and theologian, described his method as follows:

In brief, underpinning special methods there is what I have named generalized empirical method (GEM). Its operations are the operations we can verify each in his own consciousness. And the normative pattern that relates these operations to one another is the conscious dynamism of sensitive spontaneity, of intelligence raising questions and demanding satisfactory answers, of reasonableness insisting on sufficient evidence before it can assent yet compelled to assent when sufficient evidence is forthcoming, of conscience presiding over all and revealing to the subject his authenticity or his unauthenticity as he observes or violates the immanent norms of his own sensitivity, his own intelligence, his own reasonableness, his own freedom and responsibility.

Third Collection, Papers by Bernard Lonergan, SJ, ed. Frederick E. Crowe (New York: Paulist, 1985) 150.

Background and Rationale

In 2008, the CVSL developed and implemented The University Seminar on Mission in response to the need for a tangible increase in identification with Seton Hall's Catholic mission by the faculty and administrators. In response to the request of the alumni of the University Seminar on Mission for a program to deepen their understanding and dedication to the mission, The Advanced Seminar on Mission was offered by the CVSL in 2011. The seminar's success prompted the program alumni to request additional mentoring on the application of the mission to their disciplines and administrative departments.

The Program

In response, in Spring 2013, the Praxis Pilot of the Advanced Seminar on Mission, was offered, facilitated by Msgr. Richard Liddy, Director of the Center for Catholic Studies. Thirteen faculty and administrators participated in the first cohort of GEM Fellows. The majority implemented their ATMs (Application of The (GEM) Method) in their classes and administrative positions in the 2013-14 academic year. The first full cohort concluded in May 2015 and has now moved on to the Praxis Leadership Advisory Council (PLAC), which works to enrich the program and supports its sustainability.

Since 2013, now four cohorts have engaged in the two and a half year program, with over 57 faculty participating in the program, including several deans and senior administrators.GEM Fellows, those who are implementing a plan of action, now number 44. The program consists of a semester long training or immersion in the thought of Bernard Lonergan, with a request for a model of application (ATM) to their disciplines at the end. A two year peer support program follows, consisting of deepening content and reflection upon their implementation.

In Spring 2014, a second cohort participated and implemented their ATMs in the 2014-2015 academic year. In Spring 2015, a third cohort of the Praxis Program began and implemented their ATMs in the 2015-2016 academic year. In Spring 2016, a fourth cohort participated, with the support of the Raskob Foundation, the first ever award to Seton Hall University. They are implementing their ATMs in the 2016-17 academic year.

A fifth cohort is planned for Spring 2018. The training involves six sessions, usually held from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Fridays. Faculty participants receive a stipend of $500. Please click here to see the syllabus »

Periodic assessment is conducted over the term and at the conclusion of the program for the academic year. Participants reflect on key areas and summarize their observations. Since 2013, positive results have been recorded. The preliminary conclusions of the various assessments to date, can be summarized by two major points:

1) There was a need at Seton Hall for Community and a community was formed through this program. Faculty and administrators felt isolated in their silos and were not sure where they fit within the mission, or how to express the mission in their work here.

2) There was a need to provide a method (GEM) to analyze the mission and to create a process (self-appropriation) and a mechanism (ATM) to affect themselves and their teaching/professions, each other, and living the mission at this university.

GEM Fellows ATMs (Application of The Method):

Praxis Program Summer Workshop 2018

Perspectives on a Catholic Philosophy of Education: Action and Direction for the 21st Century  
June 5–7 - Rome, Italy

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