Standards for Teaching the Undergraduate Foundation Course, THL1000 Faith, Reason, and Culture


Overview of Requirements for Instructors

THL1000 is one of the Foundation Courses of the Core Curriculum of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences that also includes ACS1000, ACS1001, PHL1000, and ETH2050.

  • All Foundation Courses syllabi must include basic information as defined by the College. Please note the items listed in the CLAS Foundation Syllabus Checklist (they are mandatory, not optional), and make sure to organize your syllabus accordingly.

In this way, your course outcomes (i.e., what your students demonstrably have learned after completing your course) will contribute effortlessly to the college-level assessment routine. This routine measures regularly the extent to which students enrolled in the five Foundation Courses meet the defined learning goals that are common to all of them (Common Learning Goals of Foundation Courses).

In order to accomplish this task, at the end of each semester, all students enrolled in your THL1000 Course will be asked to submit to their e-portfolios one essay completed for your course that they think best demonstrates their learning with respect to one or more of these Common Learning Goals of Foundation Courses. Periodically, the Committee on Foundation Courses will collect random samples as a way to assess Villanova students' learning over time.

  • Thus, please keep these general learning goals in mind when you develop course content and assignments. However, please note:

Your instructional focus must be on enabling your students to meet the specific Learning Goals of THL1000 approved by TRS. What is the relationship between the Common Learning Goals of Foundation Courses and the Learning Goals of THL1000? The Committee on Foundation Courses designed the Common Learning Goals with the specific learning goals of each Foundation Course in mind. That is, we assume that when students meet the Learning Goals of THL1000 they also will meet one or more of the Common Learning Goals of Foundation Courses.

Specific Syllabus Requirements

The Common Text

The text common to all sections of THL1000 is Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes 23-45 (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World).

Avoid texts that are discussed in the other CLAS Foundation Courses (ACS 1000/1, PHL1000, ETH2050). Please consult this table.

Because THL1000 is a Foundation Course, course syllabi must meet specific requirements. Your syllabus must

  • have the college-approved common front page (i.e., common to all CLAS foundation courses); 

The idea is that when students see their various Foundation courses syllabi, they will have a visual reminder that these are not just random courses but that they are part of an integrated program.

You may add additional information.

Please do not modify the goals; copy them verbatim into your syllabus. You may add your own goals if you wish. However, please keep in mind that for assessment purposes, we will only measure the degree to which students achieve learning with respect to the three learning goals defined by TRS. Thus, you must design assignments that enable students to demonstrate achievement of all Learning Goals for THL1000. If you need help with completing this requirement, there are brief guidelines posted below.

  • use a common text;

Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes 23-45 (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World).

  • use additionally the following texts, genres, and media:

    • Texts of the Catholic/Christian intellectual tradition
    • Scriptural texts and commentaries
    • Diverse contemporary religious/theological thinkers (e.g., women, minorities, non-western)
    • Diverse genres or media (e.g., prayer, mystical writings, autobiographies, film, music)

  • but adhere to the guidelines for the use of primary texts in Foundation Courses. In particular, avoid using texts reserved for other Foundation courses. Please consult this table of texts.

If you are new to teaching THL1000 or need a refresher, please read the course rationale posted above.

Roadmap for Developing THL1000 Courses

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The Course

Course Rationale

The Department of Theology and Religious Studies is committed to the time-honored definition of its task as “faith seeking understanding” (Anselm of Canterbury). It draws upon the rich legacy of St. Augustine’s passionate pursuit of truth, a purposeful endeavor that evokes the union of mind and heart, links faith with rational reflection and, in dialogue with culture, builds unity in the midst of diversity. Thus, the department accepts “faith seeking understanding” as a process that takes place in specific cultural contexts that also must be analyzed.

Villanova University exists within a world of profound religious, theological, racial, economic, and cultural diversity, some of which can be seen on campus. Globalization and information technologies effectively collapse walls and barriers that once defined the boundaries and borders of our lives and of the disciplines within which we have learned to study. We, therefore, have an opportunity to open windows for understanding ourselves in relationship to others, the social order, and the social divisiveness and violent confrontations rooted in deep economic, political, ethnic, and theological/religious worldviews (cf. Gaudium et Spes 37).

Christianity itself is changing in the midst of these forces that bring faith into question. It is crucial that students recognize that what they believe has implications in relation to the lives of others in our own society and across the globe (particularly poor and marginalized people), the planet, and diverse religious traditions and cultures. Theological and religious literacy is not only the mark of a liberally educated person but also an indispensable resource helping us to understand ourselves in order to empathize with one another and contribute to shaping a more just, compassionate, inclusive, and peaceful global society. Students and teachers thus have a triple task: to be steeped in the rich tradition of Christianity and the faith-claims that it makes; to understand how the Christian construal of reality interacts with and has a continuing impact on the global society today and for the future; and to engage in a thoughtful and practical inculturation of religion/theology.

Theology and Religious Studies courses acquire their unique significance in the Liberal Arts and Sciences Core Curriculum because of their inner need to make the dialogue between faith(s)/religion(s) and culture(s) authentic. Understanding the substantial relationship of faith(s)/religion(s) and culture(s), instructors accept the challenge to render faith(s)/religion(s) intelligible, meaningful, and relevant in diverse contemporary cultural contexts – both local and global. With their own canons of inquiry and verification and with increasing degrees of methodological complexity, theological and religious studies disciplines probe rigorously broader questions of relevance to Christian belief and practice, the prophetic mission of the body of Christ, the union of mind and heart, life as a whole, and the discovery of God who is at the center of it all. This emphasis is characteristic of the University itself: “Inspired by the life and teaching of Jesus Christ, the University is grounded in the wisdom of the Catholic intellectual tradition and advances a deeper understanding of the relationship between faith and reason.” (Villanova Mission Statement)

Revised 05/05/2017

Course Learning Goals

Goal 1

Articulate how theological concepts and religious practices and beliefs reciprocally interact with diverse cultural contexts, local and global.

Goal 2

Correlate theological/religious and cultural responses to existential life experiences such as friendship and loss, beauty and suffering, love and injustice.

Goal 3

Evaluate the significance of Christian practices, beliefs, and traditions for personal, communal, societal, and global living.


Revised 05/05/2017


Curse Description

As an integral part of the Arts and Sciences Core Curriculum, this foundational course introduces students to the rich living tradition of Christianity: the sources, traditions, practices, and major thinkers that have shaped Christianity’s responses to the fundamental human questions that underlie all religions and shape the human search for meaning.

With a particular focus on Roman Catholicism, students engage Christianity as a living tradition of beliefs and practices that have developed over time in local and global cultural and religious contexts and that, loyal to the living God to which they point, are ready to be transformed again. Students engage Christian truth-claims, themes, values, and witness as resources for analyzing and critically evaluating contemporary cultural challenges. In this course, students are equipped to appreciate the ongoing quest of Christian faith seeking understanding as it enters into conversation with all human knowledge and experience, including other faith/religious traditions.

Revised 05/05/2017

Common Learning Goals of Foundation Courses (ACS 1000/1, PHL1000, THL1000, ETH2050)

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