Changing the Narrative for Catholic Higher Education

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Thomas W. Smith

Abstract

Throughout the twentieth century, Catholic higher education in the United States modelled its institutional structures and intellectual life on the best standards and practices of the secular academy. The question for Catholic higher education became: How can we remain distinctively Catholic while engaging in these projects? Yet the situation today is quite different and calls for a different narrative. The contemporary crisis in higher education means that the institutional and intellectual paradigms of the secular academy no longer provide a stable foundation on which to build a distinctively Catholic edifice. So a first step for Catholic institutions trying to work their way out of their crises is to find a new narrative to describe and respond to the challenges that face them.

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