Prospective Doctoral Students

phd program poster "Faith and Culture: Lead the Conversation"

Jonathan Yates, Ph.D.

Director, Admission


Stefanie Knauss, Th.D.

Director, Advising and Programming


image of text "theology and culture"

Theology and Culture

The program focuses on the study of the many ways in which faith engages culture. Because theology is the study of Christianity as lived experience, the program relates faith and culture for our time as Augustine did for his. Analogous to Augustine’s way of doing theology, the program contextualizes the study of Christian faith claims meaningfully within an analysis of contemporary culture. That is, at Villanova, students and faculty "do Catholic theology" in and within the Augustinian tradition.

image of text "Catholic Theology in the Augustinian Tradition"

Catholic Theology in the Augustinian Tradition

Enriched by the tradition of St. Augustine, whose theology powerfully related faith, reason, and culture, the program envisions “understanding what we believe”[1] (or, as Anselm of Canterbury later reformulates, “faith seeking understanding”) as faith engaging culture. Retrieving the fundamentals of the Augustinian tradition for contemporary theological reflection, the program has a distinct Augustinian identity.

[1] Augustine, On Free Choice of the Will, bk. 1, §4, trans. Thomas Williams [Indianapolis: Hackett, 1993] p. 7.

image of text "Unity, Truth, and Compassion"

Unity, Truth, and Compassion

The program is 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” (Sol. II.7.14). Implementing—in theory and practice—the Augustinian ideal of unity (unitas), truth (veritas), and compassion (caritas), students in the program pursues knowledge in depth, breadth, and rigor on all program levels: course work; integration of disciplines and traditions; and teaching and learning paradigm.

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Integration of Knoweldge

Catholic theological studies in the Augustinian tradition as conceived, studied, and advanced at Villanova are integrative. Our program pursues faith and culture from the entire range of theological perspectives. That is, no single theological discipline studies faith engaging culture in isolation. It is accomplished by placing diverse theological perspectives in dialogue with each other. The program’s most important contribution to learning is the integration of knowledge.

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A Distinctive Education

The program introduces a distinctive way of doing theology. Villanova's program

  • is inclusive of all dimensions of faith, worship, and human experience, that is, of theory and praxis, social justice and service, ecclesial traditions and cultural pluralism;
  • spans ancient, medieval, modern, and contemporary thought;
  • is inclusive of all departmental disciplines; and
  • is multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, and integrative.
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Meeting Cultural and Ecclesial Needs

The program meets cultural needs by investigating the plausibility and efficacy of Christian faith from within contemporary western culture, and the needs of the Church by discerning the unity and prophetic mission of the body of Christ amid diverse ecclesial visions. In particular, the program

  • understands theology as the academic study of Christianity as lived experience;
  • emphasizes the cultural contextualization of “faith seeking understanding”;
  • places the Church in dialogue with culture and culture in dialogue with the Church; and
  • aims at uniting theory with practice, or knowledge with the heart.