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Seton Hall University

24th Annual Faculty Summer Seminar: Ideas of a Catholic University: Then, Now, and into the Future  

Image of a a painting of John Henry NewmanThe 2022 Summer Faculty Seminar focused on St. John Henry Newman's seminal work Idea of University

Last month, over 40 Seton Hall faculty and administrators met for the 24th annual Faculty Summer Seminar: "Ideas of a Catholic University: Then, Now, and into the Future". Over three days, participants representing over a dozen University departments participated in a seminar on St. John Henry Newman’s seminal work, Idea of University, facilitated by Dr. Kenneth Parker of Duquesne University.

Sponsored by the Center for Vocation and Servant Leadership, the seminar invited participants explore their own experiences in university life as well as engage larger questions about the nature and purpose of education. Dr. Parker situated Newman’s work within the thinker’s larger autobiographical and educational background as well as his fraught conversion to Catholicism. Referencing several key discourses from the text related to university life, our faculty engaged in lively discussion such questions as: “Why pursue an education?” “What is the point of knowledge?” and “Where are we now and where can we go as a Catholic University?” The final day concluded with a conversation on the possible futures of Seton Hall as a Catholic University.

Dr. Nancy Enright, director of the University Core, remarked how the seminar “gave faculty and administrators attending a wonderfully rich three days discussing Saint John Henry Cardinal Newman.” The seminar reinforced central insights, providing reasons for the ideas that “a liberal education is valuable not for what it can do for the recipient, though it can do much, but is worth having simply for its own sake; and as valuable as such knowledge is, by itself, it does not necessarily make someone good or holy. Grace, conversion, and love are values that education can deepen and enhance, but cannot by itself convey.”

2022 Summer Seminar with faculty and administrators sitting together in a classroom. Over 40 Seton Hall faculty and administrators met last month as part of the Summer Seminar.

The interdisciplinarity of the participants made for fruitful conversations, which lasted well beyond the event’s scheduled time each day. For Dr. Enright, “these ideas and many others leading to fruitful discussion gave us much to think about over the summer months.” Faculty from Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology remarked, “I'm grateful to have had this time with Dr. Ken Parker and with colleagues to reflect on what it means to be a Catholic university. Ken was a real gift to us. He brings not only a wealth of knowledge attained over many years of research and teaching but also the wisdom that only comes with life experience. I was inspired by what he had to say and encouraged by the conversation with colleagues.” Newman’s emphasis on seeking truth together through organic interactions in an interdisciplinary campus culture resonated with participants in a particular way. The readings, presentations, and discussions will enable those involved to better serve our students and to take the best of Newman’s ideas and bring them into creative conversation with our life together at Seton Hall.

Dr. Gregory Floyd, director of the Center for Catholic studies, oversaw the event and noted: “We were thrilled with the number of faculty looking to participate this year and encouraged by the level of engagement and conversation. After nearly two and half years of a pandemic and in light of the different conversations about Catholic identity, liberal education, and university life associated with the Strategic Plan, it was rewarding to be in a room together discussing questions at the heart of our shared life at Seton Hall.”

Seton Hall faculty who attended the seminar are eligible to receive a stipend after the successful writing of a brief scholarly article engaging their discipline with the themes covered in Dr. Parker’s various sessions. Those articles will be available through the Center for Catholic Studies website on its forthcoming online journal.

About Kenneth Parker, Ph.D.

Headshot of Kenneth Parker, Ph.D.Kenneth Parker, Ph.D.

Dr. Parker received his Ph.D. in Historical Theology from the University of Cambridge. He is the Ryan Endowed Chair for Newman Studies; Department of Catholic Studies Chair, and Professor of Catholic Studies and Historical Theology at Duquesne University. He is the founding director of St. Louis University Prison Program and Editor of the Newman Studies Journal.

Categories: Education, Faith and Service