The Augustinian Order has always regarded education as a community activity that professes the values of searching for ultimate meaning and commitment to ethical values. Although the Augustinian vision emphasizes the importance of human knowledge and human disciplines for their own sake, the Order also realizes that for a considerable number of students, the Catholic school is the only agent of evangelization. This awareness is reflected in the Order’s Constitutions, 179:
The specific purpose of our schools is the Christian formation and education of the students. It follows that this apostolate should always be regarded as an essentially pastoral activity, so that we teach the truth with love, and the students acquire, along with a humanistic and scientific culture, a knowledge of the world, of life, and of humanity that is illumined by faith.
Accordingly, the colleges and universities which are sponsored by the Order should exhibit the following characteristics:
A curriculum that reflects the Catholic, Augustinian understanding of human reason and the intellect, and prepares students in their search for more ultimate meaning and value within the Catholic theological tradition. This curriculum should give primacy to the liberal arts and exhibit an openness to all disciplines and professions.
A special concern for the poor, compassion for the suffering, regard for the value of life and dedicated action for social justice and human rights that can be accomplished through ministry or, possibly, innovative academic course work.
An esteem for all persons, both in scholarly endeavors and in personal encounters, that is manifested in a curriculum that encourages an understanding and appreciation of the diversity of cultures and experiences, a respect for the individual, and the development of an international perspective.
A respect for academic freedom which makes open discussion and inquiry possible. Open discussion among scholars and students is intrinsic to inquiry and is in accord with responsible freedom, a central value of the Christian tradition, and of the thought of Saint Augustine, himself the great theologian of Christian freedom.