The enemies of the Catholic intellectual tradition are gaining ground at Marquette University as the once great institution plans to further eradicate its reason for being by dumbing down its own Core of Common studies.

“The Core is one of the most important aspects of a Marquette undergraduate education, central to our character and mission as an institution,” declared Marquette Provost Dan Myers in a letter to faculty last February. That it is, which is precisely why the enemies of the Catholic intellectual tradition need to enfeeble that core and render Marquette even less distinguishable from its secular peer institutions than it already is.

For those who want to dive deep into this issue, you can explore the university’s publicly posted but not well-publicized Core of Common Studies Revision Process. You may also benefit from reading a collection of faculty review responses, key excerpts of which are posted below (not sure this part was supposed to be posted online.)

In short, it appears Marquette plans to reduce its core requirements — “the intellectual heart of a Marquette education, built on our Jesuit tradition” — accordingly:

  • Theology from six credit hours to three credit hours.
  • Philosophy from six credit hours to three credit hours.
  • Rhetoric from six credit hours to three credit hours.
  • Natural Science and Mathematical Reasoning, currently two distinct three credit hour courses, now being combined into one three credit hour course.

What will students do with all the extra time? They will be training to become good progressive activists and worker bees in our brave new world through new required courses like “Engaging Social Systems and Values,” “Humanistic Discovery Course,” and “Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice.” Anyone smell an agenda?

If not, some of the language from the University Core of Common Studies Revised Curriculum Proposal ought to make it plain:

“Foundations courses do not simply provide canonical knowledge or content. Instead, they invite students to consider the world from multiple angles, to engage the wholeness and diversity of knowledge and its relevance for making change and addressing inequity.”

“The goal of this element of our curriculum (Engaging Social Systems and Values) is to prepare students for encounters with people whose social systems and values differ from their own. This requirement facilitates opportunities for all students to experience human diversity and helps them recognize the value of equity and inclusivity.”

Naturally, most of Marquette’s faculty is agog with all the talk of diversity, inclusivity and equity. A few remain, however, who warn that forsaking one’s raison d’être for the cultural flavor of the day may just land the university in greater existential peril than it already is.

Key excerpts from faculty review responses:

From Page 7

My main concern is about the place and role of the humanities in the new core. Marquette has already taken many steps toward transforming the university toward a professional and technical school. As a consequence, the weakening of the humanities is well under way. Many of the proposals for the new core would make this a fact.

Although employers and community leaders lament the lack of skills of job applicants beyond their capacity to make technical decision, universities–MU included–continue to downplay the importance of the humanities and of the professors in those disciplines. If we want to be credible in claiming a Jesuit affiliation and speaking of a Jesuit education, we must keep the humanities as part of the foundation of the education we provide. It would be suicidal for our institution to weaken it or get rid of it, as some proposals do.

In addition, there is the importance of a well-rounded education that allows people to make “judgments.” As ample current controversies indicate, people can be good at making technical decisions in solving problems, leaders–and we want our students to become future leaders–are not only puzzle-solvers, but will have to be able to make “judgments,” taking into consideration the context of a decision, the possible side-effects, the good of the community. In order to do that, they need to be informed of history, to have read literature (as a “laboratory of moral judgments” [Paul Ricoeur]), to be aware of the intricacies of any problem (as philosophy teaches), to know the background and perspectives (cultural and spiritual) from which a question arises.

From pg. 8

The liberal arts tradition serves as the very foundations of a Catholic, Jesuit education…. Structures or policies that will downsize crucial Block qtdepartments in the arts will not enable us to continue to provide an excellent Catholic, Jesuit education. …

Numerous plans used buzz words associated with the university’s faith mission without any perceptible coherence or understanding of the tradition behind the words. In addition, many buzz words, while having footing in the Catholic intellectual tradition, may oftentimes be used on our campus in a manner totally opposed to and not in dialogue with Catholic thought.

It’s essential that we define clearly what is meant by particular buzz words. In addition, the discipline of theology is different than the study of religion, which is different than the study of ethics, which is different than social justice, etc., etc., etc. Plans that compress these realities as equals and into the same category devalue the richness and essential distinctiveness of these intellectual systems. These plans lack the capacity for serious engagement with these systems and the Catholic intellectual tradition and should not be considered for our core.

From page 11-12

Interdisciplinarity is all well and good, but that does not erase the importance of different disciplinary approaches. Of special importance for a core education are those disciplines grouped together as the humanities. These are not simply a matter of “general education,” to enable students to recognize a quotation from Hamlet. Rather, as the term “humanities” suggest, they are modes of study to make students more human, and more humane. There are varieties of wisdom that go beyond technical skill or analysis of statistical regularities. They allow us to be more thoughtful individuals and better citizens (and may I add that the need for education for citizenship is especially evident during this election cycle.) Humanities have a special role in “finding G-d (sic) in all things,” especially those disciplines that aim at a synoptic view, with an eye to ultimate questions: philosophy and theology, which is why these disciplines have traditionally been central to a Jesuit education. Some of the proposals marginalize those disciplines that are in the humanities. This would be a grave mistake.

 

Exchanging canon, rigor and classical formation with mindless, socialistic blather has been the obsession of modern higher education form some time now. This is, indeed, the deconstruction of civilization. That once great Catholic universities like Marquette are proactively selling their souls to participate in this deconstruction is beyond heartbreaking.

Please feel free to respectfully ask Marquette leadership for clarification regarding the specifics and reasoning behind this effort.

President – Michael R. Lovell

Provost – Dr. Daniel Myers