The Necessity of the Humanities at a Catholic University A Theological Defense

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Conor Kelly, Ph.D.


The humanities have long played a pivotal role in Catholic higher education but their prominence is under siege as part of a broader cultural skepticism about the value of the liberal arts. This article counteracts these trends by developing a theological defense of the humanities’ pride of place in the Catholic university curriculum. Drawing on a “theology of institutions,” the article proposes a new way of articulating the distinct purpose of the Catholic university as an institution of the institutional Church. The article then argues that the humanities’ ability to counteract utilitarian reductionism and to promote human fl ourishing are essential for the realization of this end. The result is a theological defense of the necessity of the humanities at a Catholic university that can withstand contemporary cultural pressures and strengthen the mission and identity of Catholic universities in today’s world.

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