The Augustine and Culture Seminar (ACS) helps enable the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to fulfill its central role within the University. All students, regardless of college, should emerge from Villanova as thoughtful, intellectually-curious, and spiritually-grounded persons. Our responsibility in the College is to help lay the academic groundwork for this transformation.
ACS lays this groundwork by giving students the chance to read some of the most important texts of world literature and thought – texts that are the enduring touchstones of a liberal-arts education. What distinguishes ACS from other “great book” programs, however, is the specifically Augustinian inquiry that animates our course.
ACS teaches students not only about Augustine, but how to be like him in his passionate engagement with “the higher things”: literature, history, and politics; truth and moral values; the gods and God.
Like Augustine, we seek to come to terms with the biblical, Greek, and Roman traditions; also like him, we engage with the best of what has been written and thought, whether it belongs to our tradition or not and whether we agree with it or not, in order to respond creatively to the needs of the present. We ask our students to explore truth and ideas as Augustine did, “with heart and voice and pen.”
Finally, and again following Augustine’s lead, ACS seeks to help students develop a richer inner life and an appreciation for community. The seminar is founded on the belief that seeking the truth (veritas) with respect and love (caritas) toward one another leads to deep and lasting community (unitas).
Learning Goals for the Course:
- To provide a foundation of studies in the Humanities, in conjunction with the other Mission courses in Theology and Religious Studies, Philosophy, and Ethics, which students can build upon in their major field of study and in their electives.
- To help students see the interconnections between the various disciplines of the humanities through the common study of primary texts and the pursuit of fundamental human questions.
- To advance the intellectual and moral mission of the College by introducing students to the Christian and Augustinian traditions.
- To advance students in the following skills of critical reading and inquiry, writing, speaking and listening:
- Analyze and understand difficult and important classical texts;
- Write clearly and persuasively, supporting positions with argumentation and evidence;
- Communicate effectively orally, based on reading and in response to the contributions of other students;
- Work well and learn from other members of the class in a climate of mutual respect.
- To further the development of a vital intellectual community of scholars and student- scholars who learn from each other as active participants in these first year seminars.
- To help students apply new perspectives and make connections between the student’s own ideas and values and the texts, and between the texts themselves.