In ACS, students gather in small, discussion-based seminars for serious conversation about life’s fundamental questions, sharing insights in the spirit of friendship and the joy of discovery.
A centerpiece of the first-year experience, the Augustine and Culture Seminar (ACS) seeks to introduce students from every College to the distinctively Catholic and Augustinian ethos of Villanova.
As a first-year seminar, ACS equips students with the academic tools necessary for success at Villanova and beyond by sharpening their critical reading, discussion, and especially writing skills. At the same time, ACS seeks to instill the spirit of Augustinian inquiry. We do this by studying thought-provoking and challenging texts, ideas, and debates that have shaped human thought and culture in the ancient and modern worlds. We gather in small, discussion-based seminars for serious conversation about life’s fundamental questions, sharing our insights in the spirit of friendship and the joy of discovery. Through this common work, they learn to seek the truth, as Augustine did, with “heart and voice and pen.”
ACS is not a theology course, but rather it is a humanistic inquiry into Augustine and his world and Augustine and our world, always with the goal of encouraging each of us to ask, as Augustine did again and again, “Who am I?” The centerpiece of ACS 1000 Ancients is Augustine’s Confessions, and to help students read that text, we investigate authors and themes that shaped Augustine’s world and that throw that world into relief.
In ACS 1001 Moderns, we continue the Augustinian pursuit of wisdom and insight into ourselves and others while investigating our increasingly interconnected, diverse, global culture. Students read some of the most important works written since Shakespeare, setting them against the backdrop of ancient authors and seeking to understand their innovations and limitations. The course gives special attention to the Catholic intellectual tradition and its ongoing mission to defend the dignity of the human person, affirm human solidarity, and serve the common good.
- 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 Catholic 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 and contemporary texts;
- Write clearly and persuasively, supporting positions with argumentation and evidence;
- Communicate effectively in speech, 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.
The ACS Program is committed to diversity. In the ACS classroom, we seek to create an environment in which all are welcome to join the conversation and share their ideas and experiences. While our discussions are rooted in the Catholic Augustinian tradition, that very tradition comprises a rich continuum of views, and it also encourages us to seek out authors who themselves embody a wide variety of positions on what it means to be human.
In ACS we recognize that wisdom often comes from those who are living on the margins or are subject to oppression. Thus, we honor and affirm the diverse perspectives and identities of all, including but not limited to their race, ethnicity, gender, political opinions, religion, socioeconomic status, or disability.
Villanova’s motto of “Veritas, Unitas, Caritas” provides an excellent map for how ACS approaches diversity within the classroom. Augustine believes that we learn best together, in a community of friends. In the charitable sharing of ideas, we may not arrive at the same conclusions, but we nevertheless end with a richer understanding of the truth than when we begin on our own.