The Challenge and Promise of Catholic Higher Education for Our Time

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Catholic colleges and universities face significant challenges in the present context of American higher education. Yet, there are opportunities to be found in the midst of this crisis when one carefully examines the intersections between the Catholic mission and objectives of an institution and current culture and academia. A return to the Neoscholastic framework of the twentieth century will not provide the sort of philosophical and theological grounding needed for the twenty-first century. However, the Catholic tradition does offer teaching and an intellectual tradition that can orient the curriculum and inform the dialogue of Catholic colleges and universities and, in this way, give these institutions coherence and distinctiveness. Unlike their secular counterparts, Catholic institutions can appeal to a clear and distinct rationale for the purposes of education and inquiry. Being situated in the Catholic intellectual life, these colleges and universities can enjoy substantive orientation in their academic endeavors while fostering serious inquiry and vigorous debate.

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