Students in Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences examine distinct accounts of the human person, society, God, and the natural world that are initially mediated to students for their critical reflection through a series of core courses. These courses comprise the start of their undergraduate studies in a college committed to the values that define it as part of a Catholic, Augustinian institution of higher education.
A primary goal of a liberal arts education is to provide students with the skills necessary to examine critically the claims advanced by the various communities and traditions they share or encounter in their lives. Many of these traditions specifically respond to the question of how one should live or offer guidance for a good human life. They characterize right actions and their relation to human excellence; right relations with ourselves, others, our natural environment, and God; how these relations are expressed in human practices and institutions; the nature and sources of moral failure; the nature of practical reasoning; and so forth. Critical examination of such normative claims with respect to human activity is the domain of the academic discipline of ethics. ETH 2050 is the course in the core curriculum whose clear goal is to advance students in the knowledge and development of the skills necessary to engage in that critical examination.
This course serves to move students from gaining knowledge about the normative content of the traditions encountered at this Catholic, Augustinian university and engaging that knowledge in the pursuit of wisdom and justice for the sake of a genuinely common good, mediated, in part, through voices that represent diversity in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, culture, and geography.
Insofar as ethics is a discipline that provides resources for critical reflection on normative claims involving the guidance of life and the nature of the human good, the goals of ETH 2050 are as follows:
1. To advance understanding and critical reflection on the moral life as being especially concerned with human flourishing, i.e., with the nature of a good human life, the kind of life that is humanly worth living.
2. To advance understanding and critical reflection on Christian and especially Roman Catholic, Augustinian accounts of a distinctive and viable vision of human flourishing that challenges and is challenged by alternative visions of the moral life in fundamental respects, with concern for the voices of minority and/or marginalized groups.
3. To explore the significance of those different approaches to the moral life through the examination of various contemporary moral questions, with concern for the voices of minority and/or marginalized groups.