The purpose of the Faculty Seminar in Catholic Identity, which has been offered each spring semester over the past four years, is to introduce new faculty to Catholic intellectual traditions and commitments in higher education in order to enable them, via their research, teaching and advising, to carry on and strengthen these traditions and commitments. Most new faculty, both Catholic and non-Catholic, have a limited understanding of Catholic higher education and how it differs from secular higher education, and they ordinarily have given little thought to how they might contribute to Catholic identity and mission. The role of faith in an educational atmosphere often dominated by reason seems at first very foreign. However, as new faculty participate with colleagues and the instructors in discussions of the readings for this seminar they come to have a much better appreciation of the centuries-old Catholic commitment to the mutually reinforcing roles of faith and reason in Catholic higher education and how they can contribute to this tradition.
The seminar meets once per week throughout an entire semester in a traditional face-to-face format. Content consists of an introductory module containing a rationale for the seminar, a detailed syllabus or plan for the semester and an extensive and detailed general bibliography on Catholic higher education and also bibliographies for specific disciplines. The introductory module is followed by twelve instructional units. Each unit contains a listing of expected learning outcomes, a description of the main topic for the session, electronic access to the readings(s) for each unit, a reading guide and a number of discussion questions that can be addressed in the face-to-face meeting, the online discussion function or both. Several of the units also contain an investigative assignment involving mission issues in one’s department and a reflection opportunity. The final unit asks participants to develop an action plan for what they might do to personally contribute to the Catholic and Jesuit identity of Marquette (or other Catholic institutions if they do not work at Marquette).
Seven learning outcomes comprise the core of the seminar:
Seminar participants evaluate online materials and the readings-based discussion following each seminar and they also comment on changes in their understanding over the course of the semester on specific areas of Catholic higher education. In addition, they develop action plans as noted above.
The instructors also obtained an evaluation of the seminar from a group of nationally known Catholic higher education experts.
Seminar participants reported much improved confidence over the course of the seminar in their knowledge and understanding in the following areas:
In addition to the confidence survey, participants have provided written feedback at the end of each seminar meeting. Several themes have been prominent:
For additional information, contact Dr. Susan Mountin, Center for Teaching and Learning at (414) 288-3693 or her E-mail.