The Collegiate Ideal Renewed: Catholic Studies as Newmanian Project


Catholic Studies



Document Type



The rise of Catholic Studies programs at Catholic and non-Catholic universities has provoked admiration and dismay from various viewpoints. Theologian John Cavadini expressed a common criticism when he argued that Catholic Studies inevitably either must be reduced to theology proper or become simply the study of what Catholics do and emergency measure acceptable if there is no theology department or if the theology department on campus is too divided to function as a unifying force. In this paper, I will argue that while theology is indeed key to a Catholic education, academic theology is not, never was, and cannot be the unifying subject for undergraduate study because of its "notional" nature. Instead, Catholic Studies departments, because they are not simply theological or even strictly disciplinary, but a new representation of what Newman called the collegiate ideal, become that location by offering courses and an academic experience that focuses on unifying knowledge through an examination of culture and the Catholic intellectual tradition as a whole.

Published in

A Word in Season

Citation/Other Information

Deavel, D. P. (2020). The Collegiate Ideal Renewed: Catholic Studies as Newmanian Project. A Word in Season (Minneapolis, Minn.), I Fall, 57-74.

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