The Center for Catholic Studies

Faculty Summer Seminars

Since 1998 the Center for Catholic Studies has sponsored the faculty seminars listed below.  For the last number of years many of these seminars have been co-sponsored by Center for Vocation and Servant Leadership.  Broadly speaking, these seminars have been on the subject of “faith and culture” and have allowed faculty to gather, to get to know one another, and to wrestle together with the meaning of being human, the meaning of the university and the meaning of the Catholic university.  The participants in the seminars have been Catholics and Protestants, Jews and Moslems, Hindus and those professing no faith.  All the seminars have been facilitated by an outside facilitator, academics with their own expertise.  The participants at the seminars – usually about 15 to 18 at each – usually agree to write a short essay on the subject of the seminar from their own point of view and their own discipline.  The following are some evaluative comments on the seminars.  One faculty member wrote on the specifically academic fellowship created:

The faculty seminar hosted by the Center for Catholic Studies has been the best faculty development program at Seton Hall…The time frame gives it the right level of informality and intensity.  It is a good mix of intellectual stimulation and personal reflection.  The strength of the seminar is that it builds community among the faculty in the common pursuit of knowledge.  There are very few occasions to experience this fellowship of learning that is the ideal of university life.  Hats off to the Center for Catholic Studies for providing the taste of the best of academic life.

A Jewish participant wrote:

Regarding the Catholic seminars, I attended “Divine Madness” with Jerry Miller in l999, and please know that to this day, that week remains the most intellectually stimulating week I've had with colleagues to date.  We faculty in attendance came from diverse backgrounds, and the discussion crossed religious boundaries, yet helped us all see that within the Catholic philosophy discussed was core content that not only applied to all of our lives but enriched our perceptions of Catholic thought.  The faculty bonding during that week, even 6 years later is still alive among so many of us.

A more theme-oriented evaluation was the following:

I have immensely enjoyed and been enriched by the Catholic Studies seminar that I participated in last year when Paul Mariani presented a workshop on several poets titled "The Call of Poetry." This was an opportunity for a rather jaded writing instructor to remember that she was deeply interested in the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins, a striking late-Victorian poet whose intense religious perspective was brought to the fore in the readings and extended discussions, so much so that she could bring it to her Freshman class of writers pursuing inter-disciplinary studies. I loved reading with my peers in these sessions and then bringing my renewed interest in Victorian religious poetry to my student-writers in class…

Another faculty commented on the methodology of the seminar:

Looking back at my eight years at Seton Hall, this seminar has been one of my most memorable and “integrating” experiences…The success of the seminar owes much to its colloquium-style format that offered a balanced interplay of readings, short lectures, discussions, and the concluding writing experience (essay for seminar publication).  In concert, these modules provided the right chemistry for a truly meaningful collective learning experience…the seminar presented a learning model that has also inspired my own teaching in manifold ways.

One faculty member commented on specific concrete changes that have taken place at the university as a result of the seminars:

Through the years, the Catholic Studies Seminars on Seton Hall’s campus have captured the imagination of faculty and administrators, creating the germ for new endeavors.  In particular, there were two Catholic Studies Seminars - one on the core curriculum and the other on vocation – which sparked the development of two major initiatives on campus.  The campus-wide discussion about developing a signature experience – a core curriculum – began in the small classroom setting where two dozen or so members of the community met, discussed, and dreamed about the possibility of a new core curriculum.  That fall, the Faculty Senate voted to create a Core Curriculum Committee, which worked for several years on creation of a new core.  This dream of a new core – shared by those of us at the seminar many years back - will soon come to pass as we are now in the implementation phase of the project.  Likewise with the development of the Center on Vocation and Servant Leadership, where we had the opportunity to meet for several days to discuss our passions, our skills and the world’s deepest needs.  Immediately following these discussions, many of us continued this dialogue, which resulted in an application to the Lilly Foundation.  Many of the ideas and initiatives in this successful application grew out of the Catholic Studies seminar discussions. 

Finally, a faculty member made the specific link between the seminars and her religious faith.

For me, the Catholic Studies seminars have been a wonderful opportunity to deepen the link between my faith life and my work life, thus making me more complete and whole in both areas…I especially enjoyed the most recent seminar on St. Augustine, led by John Cavadini of Notre Dame. I thought I "knew" The Confessions, but I found myself thinking and re-thinking them and Augustine as a result of the seminar…I found the seminar spiritually moving, offering insight not only into the thinking of Augustine, but also into Scripture and the nature of our relationship with Christ…Another meaningful seminar was "The Call of Poetry," led by Paul Mariani…Finally, "Spirituality and the Academic Vocation," led by Elizabeth Johns, helped me to re-consider my own job as a professor in terms of vocation.   It also came at a key time for me personally, as both of my parents died within about 9 months of the seminar…After the seminar, with the encouragement of the seminar leader, Elizabeth Johns, I began again the habit of daily Scripture reading and prayer, a practice I had let slide through the demands of work and motherhood. The daily habit of prayer and Scripture reading helped me to have the spiritual strength I needed to get through this difficult time.

Access the Faculty Seminar publications »