Catholic Studies & Social Thought

The Minor in Catholic Studies and Social Thought is conceived as a Catholic interdisciplinary engagement between/among forms of Catholic social thought as expressed in social theory, the Catholic socio-cultural imaginary, and the Roman Catholic magisterial discourse on society.

The program presents the principles and vision of Catholic social teaching as a complement to any major field of study from business to education to the sciences to the arts and humanities.  The curriculum is divided into three areas of study: (1) History and Society; (2) Theology and Philosophy; (3) Culture and Aesthetics. Students must earn 20 units of credit, with appropriately satisfactory grades, in a course of study structured as follows:

  1. Required Core Course. All minors must take the core course:
    THRS 220 - Catholic Social Thought: This course provides an in-depth look at Catholic social thought as well as movements within the Catholic Church inspired by Catholic social thought which engage social issues and moral problems. Ways in which Christian thinkers and activists view Catholic social thought as a public calling are addressed. (4 units)
  2. Electives. Students shall pursue/earn 12 units from courses in the Catholic Studies catalog (see "Course Listing" below). Ordinarily, students will complete one course in each of the three areas of study specified in the curriculum. This area-coverage requirement may be waived by the student’s Capstone advisor (see below), in consultation with the Catholic Studies faculty director, where students show interest and capacity for profitable research on a particular theme with an eye to the Capstone.
  3. The Capstone. All students in the minor must successfully complete a Capstone course (4 units), including a Capstone thesis project, ordinarily a 25-40 page paper.
    • Capstone Course. In pursuit of the Capstone, the student would select a course that would be the “wrapper” for her/his Capstone project. The course shall come from one of the electives.
    • Capstone Thesis: Grounded in the Core. The thesis and research pursued in the Capstone course would substantially ground itself in perspectives or problematics presented in the minor’s required core course (THRS-220: Catholic Social Thought). Ordinarily students shall pursue a project that considers Catholic social thought and/or teaching (as per groundings in the minor’s core) in historical, aesthetic-cultural, theological, sociological, philosophical, or otherwise in interdisciplinary perspective (per scholarship in the electives).

Continuity of Conception, Breadth, Focus

The minor is structured to emphasize breadth of inquiry, along with focused study in a chosen field of research. On entering the program, a student shall be advised to begin the minor with the required core, where possible — or to take that course as early as possible. Students are also expected to begin considering possible topics for a Capstone project sometime during that course, so that Capstone planning and development revolve around the themes of the core.

  1. Capstone Advisor. Ordinarily students entering the minor will be appointed a Capstone advisor, who shall serve as a program and research consultant for the duration of the student’s participation in the minor (as much as possible). The staff of the Lane Center for Catholic Studies & Social Thought will take the lead in interfacing minors with appropriate advisory and consultative faculty.
  2. The Capstone advisor may be either of (1) the faculty director of the Catholic Studies minor or (2) some other qualified cooperating faculty member designated by the Catholic Studies faculty director. All such designations shall be made in compliance with the rules for instruction and advising binding in the College and the University.
  3. Fulfilling the Capstone; Credit. Ordinarily, the Capstone requirement shall be satisfied by successful completion of the designated Capstone course, culminating in a research paper of 25-40 pages in length (double-spaced and otherwise conforming to the formalities of appropriate academic citation and style).
  4. Faculty Consultation. The student shall consult with the Capstone course instructor beforehand, enlisting her/his cooperation for the project. The student must also consult with, and gain final approval of a Capstone thesis proposal, from the student’s designated Catholic Studies advisor.
  5. Capstone course grading shall fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Capstone course instructor. Evaluation of the adequacy of the Capstone course’s project for fulfillment of the Capstone thesis requirement shall rest finally with the student’s Capstone advisor. The faculty director for Catholic Studies shall retain the prerogative to veto any project for manifest inadequacy or irrelevancy to the themes, methods, and interests of the minor’s core subject matter. Such prerogative shall only be exercised in exceptional cases, in consultation with administration in the Lane Center, and the appropriate deans of the College of Arts & Sciences.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the program, students shall be able to:

  1. Present an accounting of major trends in Catholic social thought since Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical, Rerum Novarum. (1891).
  2. Contextualize challenges to the fulfillment of Catholic social teaching through research on the manifold ways Catholic social action interfaces with modern and postmodern secular cultures.
  3. Assess the justice missions and interests of the Church, and present proposals concerning advancement of those missions within morally and multiculturally complex worlds.
  4. Account for some of the major intellectual, social, historical, and aesthetic perspectives developed in the ambit of Catholic culture.
  5. Discuss the problematics of Catholic social teaching in a religious world characterized by ecumenical and interfaith differences, interreligious conflict, and violence.

Course Listings

Course Listings

1. Catholic Social Thought

  • THRS 220: Catholic Social Thought

2. History & Society

  • HIST 316: The Reformation
  • HIST 317: The Expansion of Europe
  • HIST 318 Early Modern Europe
  • HIST 324: History of the Early Church
  • HIST 370: Colonial Latin America
  • HIST 372: Indigenous and Colonial Mexico
  • POLS 317: Religion and Politics
  • POLS 341: Nonviolence in Theory and Practice
  • POLS 344: Revolution and Reaction in Latin America
  • POLS 356: The Vatican in Global Politics
  • THRS 345: Religion of US Latinos
  • THRS 363: Religion in Latin America
  • THRS 384: Religion and Nonviolence

3. Theology and Philosophy

  • PHIL 376: Philosophy of Social Justice
  • PHIL 404: Contemporary Thomism
  • SII 201: Catholic Thought
  • SII 203: Religion and Culture in Late Antiquity
  • SII 405: Catholic Moral Tradition
  • THRS 100: The Christian Village
  • THRS 104: Mystery of God/Human Person
  • THRS 106: Intro to Sacred Scriptures
  • THRS 200: Christian Feminist Theology
  • THRS 202: Portraits of Christ
  • THRS 260: Sexuality and Scripture
  • THRS 262: Homosexuality and the Bible
  • THRS 280: Migrant and Diaspora Religions
  • THRS 308: Who is Jesus: Introduction to Christology
  • THRS 312: Christian Marriage
  • THRS 322: Liberation Theology
  • THRS 355: What is Catholicism?
  • THRS 361/ ENVA 361: Religion and the Environment
  • THRS XXX: Feminist Theology from the Third World
  • THRS 405: Catholic Moral Tradition
  • THRS 470: Contemporary Moral Problems

4. Culture and Aesthetics

  • ENGL 311: Writing Faith: Period Course 1100-1700
  • MS 350: Human Rights and Film
  • NURS 301: Death and Dying
  • SII 204: Medieval and Renaissance Lit
  • SII 302: Music and Art
  • SPAN 413/SII 413: Dante’s Divine Commedia
  • THRS 330/THETR 315: Biblical and Spiritual Drama
  • THRS 340: Panamerican Saints: Hagiography and Politics

Courses Offered