Recommended Further Reading on Catholic Higher Education, Scholarship, and Studies


Venite ad me omnes (Come to me everyone)- Sacred Heart of Jesus, 1893.

Venite ad me omnes (Come to me everyone) – Sacred Heart of Jesus, 1893.

Some readers might be interested in deepening their understanding of Notre Dame’s Catholic mission and eager to learn how to conceive more firmly of Catholic education more broadly, and Catholic higher education more specifically.  What are some competing visions of the essence of the Catholic university?  What intellectual and historical movements have given rise to the state of contemporary American Catholic universities? What standards have the Catholic magisterium and Catholic scholars and commentators laid out for the Catholic university?

These recommended resources for further reading are intended to provide a glimpse into these conversations and this history, with a view toward giving readers a clearer understanding of how Notre Dame understands its Catholic identity and mission, and a more acute capacity to assess that understanding; some of the historical movement giving rise to that present understanding; and the kinds of vision to which Notre Dame aspires, or ought to aspire.

My hope is that these resources can enrich the import and usefulness of the project of NDCatholic by embedding it within a larger and ongoing discussion about Catholic universities and the education they offer.  While I do not agree with everything written in these resources, I do think they provide valuable perspectives that contribute to a fuller understanding of the subjects they take up.

Intellectual and historical background

“American Catholics and the Intellectual Life,”

John Tracy Ellis, 1955, 42 pages.  A mid-century appraisal of the history of American Catholic intellectualism and scholarship.  PDF available here.

“Looking Back at Newman,”

Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., 1962, 5 pages.  The former president of Notre Dame reflects on which elements of Cardinal Newman’s classic treatment of the university can be retained, or should be modified, for modern times.  Article available here.

“Land O’Lakes Statement,”

Various contributors, 1967, 7 pages.  A gathering of Catholic university leaders discuss their vision for the modern Catholic university.  Document available here.

Magisterial teachings and reflections

“Declaration on Christian Education Gravissimum Educationis,”

Pope Paul VI, 1965, 10 pages. “This sacred synod declares certain fundamental principles of Christian education especially in schools”; The Council Fathers explore the nature of Christian education.  Document available here.

 “Meeting With the Representatives of Catholic Universities,”

John Paul II, 1987, 7 pages.  The Holy Father addresses the nature and importance of Catholic universities for the Church and the world.  Article available here.

“Ex Corde Ecclesiae – On Catholic Universities,”

Pope John Paul II, 1990, 22 pages.  The foremost magisterial definition of the nature and role of Catholic universities within the Church and culture.  PDF available here.

“Faith, Reason and the University – Memories and Reflections,”

Pope Benedict XVI, 2006, 7 pages.  In one of his earliest and most influential addresses, the Pope condemns positivistic rationality paradigms and calls for the restoration of the full breadth of reason within the university.  PDF available here.

“Meeting With Catholic Educators,”

Pope Benedict XVI, 2008, 7 pages. The Pope reflects on what is particular of Catholic educational institutions, how they contribute to the good of society through the Church’s primary mission of evangelization, and critiques positivistic educational tendencies. Address available here.

“The Nature and Ends of Catholic Higher Education from the Magisterium of the Venerable Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI,”

Raymond Cardinal Burke, 2010, 11 pages.  Cardinal Burke addresses the subject of his address’s title, drawing special attention to the essential task of theology within the Catholic university’s curriculum.  PDF available here.

Current debates and questions at Notre Dame

“The University of Notre Dame’s catholic and Catholic Future: Professors, Teaching, and Scholarship,”

Rev. Robert Sullivan, 2008, 19 pages.  A cursory overview of the challenges that the university faces as it aspires toward its three-pronged mission aspirations: undergraduate teaching excellence, Catholic character, and research and scholarly prominence. PDF available here.

“A Public School in a Catholic Neighborhood: The Core Curriculum at Notre Dame,”

Alfred J. Freddoso, 2010, 4 pages.  Freddoso explains his famous phrase, “a public school in a Catholic neighborhood,” while outlining what a serviceable core curriculum at Notre Dame may look like.  PDF available here.

“The University, Theology, and the Curriculum,”

Cyril O’Regan, 2015, 10 pages.  A longstanding and prominent professor of theology discusses Notre Dame’s institutional responsibilities and aspirations in light of the university’s decennial core curriculum review process and its Catholic character.  PDF available here.

Contemporary disputes and evaluations in Catholic higher education

“Prospects for the Catholic University in a Secular Age,”

Don J. Briel, 1999, 10 pages.  A studied examination of the nature of the project of the modern secular university and its compatibility with a Catholic worldview.  PDF Available here.

“Looking Ahead at Catholic Higher Ed,”

Gerard V. Bradley, 2002, 14 pages.  A former president of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars diagnoses the state of Catholic higher education and offers a vision for how Catholic educators and scholars might revitalize Catholic universities in the United States.  PDF available here.

 “Theology as Knowledge,”

Various Authors, 2006, 19 pages.  Christian scholars discuss and debate the would-be benefits of theology to the modern secular university; whether its disciplinary presence in such universities is even desirable; and whether the history of Christian theology itself has contributed to its marginalization in public educational institutions.  Article available here.

“Catholic Scholars, Secular Schools,”

Robert Louis Wilken, 2008, 10 pages.  A juxtaposition of the merits and limits of various structures of Catholic scholarship and teaching at secular universities.  Article available here.

“Why Study God? The Role of Theology at a Catholic University,”

John C. Cavadini, 2013, 7 pages.  A panoramic yet succinct articulation of why theology as a discipline is essential to the integrity of Catholic higher education.  PDF available here.

“Polytechnic Utiliversity,”

Reinhard Hütter, 2013, 12 pages.  An exploration, by way of John Henry Newman’s lectures on the university, of the modern secular university and its classical liberal arts counterparts.  Article available here.