The doctoral program is rooted in the Augustinian tradition and explores the intersection of Catholic theology and culture. Students in the program (a) investigate the implications of theological knowing and cultural expressions of that knowledge, as well as the influence of culture on theology; (b) study these relations from multiple theological perspectives and promotes expertise in two of them; and (c) prepare themselves to sufficiently master these perspectives for conducting interdisciplinary, integrative research and college level teaching.
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.
Enriched by the tradition of St. Augustine, whose theology powerfully related faith, reason, and culture, the program envisions “understanding what we believe” (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.
 Augustine, On Free Choice of the Will, bk. 1, §4, trans. Thomas Williams [Indianapolis: Hackett, 1993] p. 7.
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.
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.
The program introduces a distinctive way of doing theology. Villanova's program
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