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Seton Hall University
Image of Mother Seton's statue on campus with a cross and a building and a background, next to a tree.

About the Catholic Intellectual Tradition

As a Catholic university, Seton Hall exists to participate in the ongoing interaction of faith and reason in the collaborative and cumulative pursuit of truth. The history and practice of this pursuit across diverse times and places is the Catholic Intellectual Tradition.

The Catholic Intellectual Tradition is a rich and diverse two-thousand-year conversation that springs from the encounter between human culture, thought, and practice and the incarnation of God’s Word in Jesus of Nazareth. Because God is the Creator of heaven and earth who takes on human nature in Jesus Christ, all human endeavors, discourses, practices, and forms of life lie within the concern of Catholic intellectual life, as do all forms of cultural expression from the natural and human sciences to music and poetry, from political and economic theory to architecture and healthcare.

As an archdiocesan university, Seton Hall participates in this tradition which enriches its university life in several ways. It commits the university not only to educational breadth but also to depth: to educate and to exercise concern for the whole person, to recognize the dignity of each person in exercising virtues such as justice, solidarity, intellectual integrity, and the stewardship of creation, and to practice servant leadership in the pursuit of the common good for all. It also invites faculty and students alike to ever greater integration between faith and reason, between the various disciplines of knowledge, and between learning and life. In addition to specialized training, therefore, it aspires to an integrated understanding of how everything fits together, what it all means, and thus how we ought to live and what we ought to love. Such a search for meaning is a task always undertaken anew in dialogue with the entire Catholic tradition. In their specific contributions to ongoing integration, philosophy and theology play an important role at a Catholic University, inviting us to ask about the meaning of the whole in relationship to individual disciplines, to the human person, and to God.

The Catholic intellectual tradition marks a Catholic university with a distinctive identity. It is a special place of encounter between the life of faith, the activities of learning and research, and the needs of the world. It affirms, nurtures, and guides a human desire to seek what is true, love what is good, and delight in what is beautiful.

The invitation to ever greater depth and integration constitutive of the Catholic identity of Seton Hall motivates and enhances learning in all fields of knowledge. This educational approach responds to the needs of students and faculty today, well-attested to in various fields, and aptly described by Pope John Paul II:

……rapid developments in science and technology…require the correspondingly necessary search for meaning in order to guarantee that the new discoveries be used for the authentic good of individuals and of human society as a whole. …a Catholic University is called in a particular way to respond to this need. (Ex Corde §7)

We are further reminded that because of its equal commitment to faith and reason the Catholic Intellectual Tradition “is open to all human experience and is ready to dialogue with and learn from any culture” (Ex Corde §43). At Seton Hall this commitment is the foundation of the academic freedom to engage ideas and theories rigorously. It also commits Seton Hall to an active hospitality towards the great religious traditions of the world as well as to all the disciplines and discourses in a university that contribute to the common good, to the pursuit of truth, and to forming lives lived in service of others and marked by a special concern for the most vulnerable. As a flourishing Catholic university, Seton Hall works to be a place whose educational life gives diverse expression to the life-giving vision and deepest truths of the Catholic Intellectual Tradition.

Approved by the Board of Trustees, January 17, 2023