Seton Hall Hosts International Think Tank Meeting on the Implementation of Ex Corde Ecclesiae
The Catholic Studies working group of the International Federation of Catholic Universities (IFCU) held an eye-opening meeting about current trends in Catholic higher education and opportunities for universities to put into practice the principles explained in St. John Paul II’s Ex Corde Ecclesiae. The think-tank style working group’s meetings are hosted by Seton Hall University, as the group is led by Ines Murzaku, Ph.D., Professor of Religion and Director of the Catholic Studies Program.
The meeting, held on May 4, featured a discussion with James Keating, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Theology Department at Providence College. A respected theologian and commentator on trends in Catholic higher education, Keating recently published an article in First Things; this latest article is inviting conversations about the true goals and calling of Catholic higher education. The members of the working group heartily welcomed him to the meeting, since he was in a unique position to share ideas about the history and current trajectory of the integration of Catholic mission in higher education, as well as about the central role that Catholic Studies programs play in the implementation of this mission.
As Keating explained in his article, the "domestication" of Catholic higher education in recent decades—its reform to boost enrollment and donor dollars—has caused many Catholic institutions of higher education to push their mission to the side. However, he noted that in the most recent years, a "positive development in the post–Ex Corde era of Catholic higher education is the creation of small pockets of fidelity within schools that have otherwise lost or domesticated their Catholic identities. Instead of cursing the light’s dying, a small number of Catholic professors and supportive presidents have launched programs designed to provide faith-infused education to students who seek it."
Murzaku shared that Keating’s article and perspective are particularly relevant for the working group. She said, "The IFCU Catholic Studies working group is tasked with just that: developing innovative ways to implement Catholic Studies programs that, as Keating notes, ‘provide faith-infused education’ and new avenues for international collaboration to make this effort manageable." She added, "At Seton Hall, through our Catholic Studies Program, University Core, and internationalization initiatives, we are doing this work every day, and we enjoy sharing our best practices with those in the international community. We also take advantage of opportunities to learn how other universities, internationally, are doing the same important work—and we constantly seek to collaborate to create even better results for our students."
Seton Hall University joined the prestigious IFCU in 2021, and since then has made many contributions to the organization. Additionally, Seton Hall has benefited from its membership in the IFCU, having established many affiliations between Seton Hall and Catholic universities around the world, as well as study abroad opportunities for Seton Hall students and international research and pedagogy collaborations for faculty. In 2022, Katia Passerini, Ph.D., Seton Hall Provost and Executive Vice President, was elected to the Administrative Board of the IFCU, on which she is now serving a three-year term as the representative of North America on the Board.
The working group has previously hosted previous meetings on diversity, equity and inclusion in Catholic higher education and on the opportunities that international partnerships present for Catholic Studies. Future meetings of the group will cover trends in the field, and topics are determined as they rise in relevance for the institutions facing them.