Inside the Core this week, many of our faculty and some administrators will be participating in a virtual conference hosted by Sacred Heart University in CT and funded by the Lilly Foundation. Originally, this conference was planned for April of 2020 to be held on Sacred Heart's campus, but the pandemic got in the way of that plan. However, it has been moved online, and will occur Thursday through Saturday of this week. Seton Hall is a co-sponsor of the conference, along with Sacred Heart University and the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities. The theme is "The Catholic Intellectual Tradition – Challenges and Opportunities for the Catholic University in the Twenty-first Century." As a even a quick glance at the program will show, there is much of great interest to be discussed on this topic.
Sacred Heart's Michelle Loris, Chair of Catholic Studies, Associate Dean, and Director of the Conference, says, "This conference is a significant event for Catholic higher education. We have about 185 participants registered with over 20 Catholic institutions represented from across the country. We have well known keynote speakers and a plethora of panel presentations. We define the Catholic intellectual tradition as a 2,000-year, ongoing conversation between Catholic thinkers and their world, and this conference is part of that ongoing, continuing conversation. These keynote addresses and panel presentations will offer a robust discussion about bringing the Catholic intellectual tradition into the classroom and across the University." It was Michelle's vision that caused her and some of her wonderful colleagues to reach out to some of us at Seton Hall about this plan, first discussed with us during the fall of 2018. Panels and round-table discussions will alternate with presentations by keynote speakers, including the poet Paul Mariani, particularly significant to those of us, like myself, who teach Catholic Studies courses with an eye toward the discipline of English literature. Other plenary speakers include Rev. Gregory Kalscheur of Boston College, who will address the over-arching theme of the conference: "Engaging the CIT: How Research in All Disciplines Can be Enriched by Encounter with the Tradition." Carolyn Woo of Purdue University will discuss "Catholic University and Mission: A Primer for Leadership and Development," and Gerald Beyer of Villanova University will present on "Justice Within and Beyond the University." Finally, last plenary speaker, Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, CM, President, Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, will present on "Treasure in Earthen Vessels: Bringing a New Generation into the Catholic Intellectual Life."
The faculty (and administrator) participants from Seton Hall represent a wide range of disciplines, showing the breadth and depth of the Catholic intellectual tradition and the related area of the University Core: Jordan Miller (University Core), Thomas Rzeznik (History), Todd Stockdale (University Core), Richard Liddy (Religion and Catholic Studies, former Director of the Catholic Studies Center), Mary Balkun (English), Josephine DeVito (Nursing), Nancy Enright (University Core and English), Patrick Manning (Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology), Marisa Case (Center for Academic Success), Irene De Masi (Physical Therapy), Linda Garafalo (admin., Center for Vocation and Servant Leadership), Danute Nourse (admin., Catholic Studies Center), Maribel Landrau (University Core), and Jon Radwan (Communication/COAR). Faculty are enthused about participating in the conference. For example, Mary Balkun says, "I'm excited about the conference and the chance to talk about ways a text like the Book of Ruth can speak to our current political and cultural moment. Approaching it as an immigrant text, which is how I teach it in Journey of Transformation, can help students connect to Ruth's story in ways that are very personal, especially given that we are a nation of immigrants."
It has been wonderful to work with our colleagues at Sacred Heart in planning this conference in its earliest stages, though they did, by far, the largest part of the work as we moved closer to it and especially in light of the pandemic, bringing it all online. We are grateful to them for that and for this wonderful opportunity for our faculty to share their thoughts and scholarship with others, on the various nuances, difficulties, and inspiration involved in teaching about the Catholic intellectual tradition in these challenging times.
Categories: Faith and Service