About Us

blue circular graphic. the term "vision" is highlighted in red

Our academic vision is rooted in the Augustinian and Catholic intellectual traditions of faith engaging culture.

Our programs engage theology actively, fully, and consciously informed by the breadth of theological and cultural traditions.

Analogous to Augustine’s way of "doing" theology, we contextualize the study of Christian faith claims meaningfully within an analysis of contemporary culture, relating faith and culture for our time as Augustine did for his.

Enriched by the tradition of St. Augustine, whose theology powerfully related faith, reason, and culture, our programs envisions "understanding what we believe"(*) as faith engaging culture and develop this particular relationship within the Augustinian tradition.

In the Augustinian tradition, theology never is an "end-product" but a reality that emerges in interaction with contemporary culture.

(*) Augustine, On Free Choice of the Will, bk. 1, §4, trans. Thomas Williams [Indianapolis: Hackett, 1993] p. 7. Anselm of Canterbury later reformulates, "faith seeking understanding."

Our programs are built upon the theological and educational vision of the Augustinian tradition that "there is no better way to pursue the truth than by questioning and answering" ( neque melius quaeri ueritas possit, quam interrogando et respondendo ; Sol. II.7.14).

Implementing – in theory and practice – the Augustinian ideal of unity (unitas ), truth ( veritas ), and compassion ( caritas ), we pursue knowledge in depth, breadth, and rigor on all program levels.

We pursue theology and culture from the entire range of theological perspectives and aim to integrate knowledge. Theological studies in the Augustinian tradition as conceived, studied, and advanced at Villanova are multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary. That is, at Villanova no single theological discipline studies faith engaging culture in isolation. It is accomplished by placing diverse theological perspectives in dialogue with each other.

Our programs' most important contribution to learning in the third millennium is the integration (not the parallel study) of knowledge. Thus, with our programs, we intend to spearhead innovative ways of theological learning and, in this way, support the mission of the University and serve the Church.

blue circular graphic. the term "mission" is highlighted in red

We are a multidisciplinary academic faculty within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and rooted in a Roman Catholic, Augustinian heritage. We investigate Christian and non-Christian religious practices, beliefs, and traditions as we explore faith, reason, and culture in their many, textured relationships. Moreover, we emphasize the study of Catholicism in dialogue with other Christian traditions and world religions. With this endeavor, the Department serves as a resource for the University community, the extended local community, the national and global communities, and the Church.

We are committed to the Augustinian vision of “understanding what we believe” (On Free Choice of the Will 1.4). Just as Augustine engaged the cultural, intellectual, and religious traditions of his time to elucidate the nature of faith, we seek “the wisdom of truth” (veritas) in dialogue with learners different from ourselves (unitas) and with care for the world and its peoples (caritas). In so doing, we pursue a distinctively Augustinian way of knowing and loving God and neighbor that is holistic, integrative, and transformational.

We involve students of every religion, culture, and worldview in examining the enduring quest of faith seeking understanding. This quest is Christianity’s gift to a liberal arts education and a cornerstone of the Villanova experience. Furthermore, we regard religious, theological, and cultural literacy as the mark of a person educated in the Augustinian tradition and an indispensable resource for transforming global society into one enlightened by compassion, justice, and peace.

Approved on April 02, 2014

blue circular graphic. the term "goals" is highlighted in red

Goal 1

Gain an understanding of the purposes, central issues, and methods of inquiry standard in theological and religious studies as applied to faith engaging culture.

Objective A

Explain, analyze, and evaluate fundamental issues that frame theological and religious inquiry using appropriate scholarly methods.

Objective B

Use critical methods to read, analyze, and interpret religious and theological texts and related media, art, and artifacts and communicate their findings clearly and coherently.

Goal 2

Engage Christianity as a living tradition of practices and beliefs that continues to be refined, developed, and extended through time in diverse cultural contexts.

Objective A

Demonstrate understanding of the unique vocabulary, foundational sources, theological beliefs, historical developments, and leading thinkers in the Christian tradition with proficiency in one or more of these areas and with particular attention to the Roman Catholic tradition.

Objective B

Recognize and explain the influence of historical and cultural contexts in the formulation and development of Christian practices and beliefs.

Goal 3

Render Christian faith intelligible, meaningful, and relevant in contemporary cultural contexts as a basis for transformative action in the world in dialogue with others.

Objective A

Discern the relevance of Christian faith for personal and communal life and values and its prophetic role in the transformation of the world.

Objective B

Recognize the complexity and diversity of religious practices and beliefs in pluralistic societies and seek to understand those whose values and senses of the sacred differ from their own.

The program goals reflect our departmental academic vision of "doing theology" in the Augustinian tradition, and our academic vision.

Goal 1

Engaging Faith and Culture

Objective A

Engage theology actively, fully, and consciously informed by the breadth of theological and cultural traditions.

Objective B

Contextualize faith meaningfully within an analysis of contemporary culture, relating faith and culture for our time as Augustine did for his.

Objective C

Evaluate faith claims based on content, context, and application of theological inquiry with a focus on faith engaging culture:

  1. What is the fundamental truth of a faith claim (veritas)?
  2. What are its biblical, historical, and contemporary cultural contexts (unitas)?
  3. What are its ethical, spiritual and ministerial significance (caritas)?

Goal 2

Integrating Knowledge

Objective A

Bring theological perspectives (and their methods of analysis) in dialogue with each other: biblical, historical and Augustinian, fundamental/systematic theological, ethical, spiritual, and ministerial.

Objective B

Integrate contemporary thought and experience in course work.

Goal 3

Learning in the Augustinian Tradition

Objective A

Nurture a way of knowing that is in­fused with care and love or, to use an Augustinian metaphor, knowing with the heart and the mind.

Objective B

Integrate faith into the academic, social, and cultural environment of the classroom.

The program offers support, education, and engagement in lay pastoral ministry. It introduces students to theological and ministerial knowledge and practice in the Augustinian tradition, which emphasizes the union of the mind and heart.

Goal 1

Theological and ministerial knowledge in the Augustinian tradition.

Objective A

Explain theological arguments and their significance for lay ministry.

Objective B

Describe biblical, historical, ecclesial, and theological perspectives on Christian ministry (with a primary but not exclusive focus on the Roman Catholic tradition).

Objective C

Evaluate the resources of the Christian ecclesiological and ministerial traditions in light of the questions raised by contemporary culture and the continuing challenges of human life.

Objective D

Examine academic practices of inquiry and discovery for professional ecclesial lay ministry.

Goal 2

Spiritual growth and development.

Objective A

Discriminate Augustine’s call to the restless search for wisdom by actualizing relationships with God, the world, and its people.

Objective B

Engage one’s mind and deepen one’s Christian life by integrating the speculative (mind) and practical (heart) in one’s theological and ministerial studies and practices.

Objective C

Deliberate and form judgments about the implications of Christian moral principles for building a more just, sustainable and peaceful world.

Goal 3

Effectiveness in pastoral ministry and leadership.

Objective A

Evaluate pastoral practices that clarify the gospel for contemporary culture and promote the care of persons in the Church.

Objective B

Apply systematic theological reflection on ministerial practice and experience to systematic and critical reflection on one’s pastoral presence, skills, and gifts in ministerial service.

Objective C

Analyze the Church’s teachings on the universal call to holiness, including the concept of baptismal vocation, and discern their pastoral application and relationship to the role of ministers as leaders in faith communities.

Objective D

Assume positions as productive, ethical, intellectual, and socially responsible citizens, leaders, teachers, and ministers.

The program goals reflect our departmental academic vision of "doing theology" in the Augustinian tradition.

Goal 1

Engaging Catholic theology within the Augustinian tradition

Objective A

Retrieve the fundamentals of the Augustinian tradition for contemporary theological reflection.

Objective B

Advance academic ways of understanding Christian belief and practice.

Goal 2

Relating faith, reason, and culture

Objective A

Investigate the resources of the Christian theological tradition in light of the questions raised by contemporary culture and the continuing challenges of human life.

Objective B

Investigate the implications of theological knowing and cultural expressions of that knowledge, as well as the cultural contextualization of “faith seeking understanding.”

Objective C

Explore the plausibility and efficacy of Christian faith from within contemporary culture(s).

Objective D

Recognize Christian theology as a living, enduring way of knowing that continues to be refined, developed, and extended as it engages the contemporary world.

Goal 3

Analyzing Catholic theology and culture from multiple theological perspectives

Objective A

Demonstrate competency in biblical theology; historical theology; fundamental and systematic theology; Christian spirituality; Christian ethics.

Objective B

Acquire expertise in two areas of theological reflection.

Objective C

Conduct interdisciplinary, integrative research.

Objective D

Demonstrate cultural literacy and critically analyze cultural realities.

Goal 4

Discerning the unity and prophetic mission of the body of Christ amid diverse ecclesial visions

Objective A

Place the Church in dialogue with culture and culture in dialogue with the Church.

Objective B

Interpret Christian faith in diverse cultural contexts.

Goal 5

Uniting theory with practice, or knowledge with the heart

Objective A

Advance theology as the study of Christianity as lived experience.

Objective B

Evaluate theological knowing in the Augustinian tradition as both speculative and practical and distinctive in its emphasis on the union of mind and heart.

Objective C

Reflect upon Christian practice and develop new possibilities for Christian experience.

Objective D

Integrate the plural dimensions of faith, worship, and the human lived experience, that is, theory and praxis, social justice and service, ecclesial traditions and cultural pluralism.

Goal 6

Educating the mind and the heart (whole person)

Objective A

Demonstrate commitment to spiritual development—value “interiority.”

Objective B

Integrate personal faith into the academic, social, and cultural environment of the university.

Objective C

Develop the will or “brave heart” to navigate through varied forms of knowledge to reach truth.

Objective D

Engage the mind and deepen the Christian life by integrating the speculative (mind) and practical (heart) in studies and dialogues with faculty and fellow students.

Objective E

Develop intellectual curiosity and rigor—learn a love of learning.

Objective F

Exhibit critical insight, mature judgment, and independent thinking.

Goal 7

Assuming a position as productive, ethical, intellectual, and socially responsible citizen and leader

Objective A

Deliberate and form judgments about the implications of Christian moral principles for building a more just, sustainable and peaceful world.

Objective B

Prepare for intellectual, moral, and professional leadership.

Objective C

Cultivate a sense of the importance of values and the moral responsibility of caring for others.

Objective D

Become wise critic of society and envisage its transformation.

Objective E

Value the sacredness of all creation and develop social consciousness transcending economic barriers and questions of race, gender, and creed.

Objective F

Commit to service in the Catholic and Augustinian tradition, in particular, the gospel values of service, stewardship for the common good, and the “preferential option for the poor.”

blue circular graphic. the term "assessment" is highlighted in red