Catholic Studies Course Descriptions

CATH 175: Catholic Thought and Culture (Freshman Year)
This course provides an introduction to Catholic intellectual culture.  It is particularly aimed at providing some grounding for students considering and intending to major or minor in Catholic Studies; and any Carroll student wishing to learning more about the Catholic faith and how that faith has affected the cultural and academic thought of believing Catholics. The course will meet once weekly for seven weeks in mid-Fall semester; each course will focus on a doctrine, person, etc., relevant to an overarching theme.  Themes will rotate from semester to semester. Offered each Fall.


Implicit to this theme is the Augustinian phrase that “those who believe but do not know have not yet found.” 1 Faith as completing, and being informed by, reason takes center stage and will be illuminated through the thematic teachings on cooperative grace and bolstered by teachings on Incarnation, sacrament, redemption, and mission.

CATH 201: Faith and Reason (Sophomore Year)
This course examines the role of philosophy and reasoning to the Catholic Church’s fulfillment of its own mission to express the truth about God, and follows the historical emergence of the synthesis of faith and reason. The course also considers how the Catholic intellectual life manifests itself in deference toward faith.  Offered each Fall.

CATH 301: Church and Culture (Junior Year) 
An examination of the Magisterium as a teaching institution serving the truth of discipleship to Christ. The course will treat select teachings of Magisterium, especially cooperative grace, as related to important secondary teachings within the Church, including various doctrines attached to grace and the influence of these doctrines on the Church’s social teachings. Offered every semester, in the Fall.


Courses in the category of Goodness focus on the basic attitude of faith as a response to grace and what it entails, extending that to a study of how various Saints have creatively lived out their faith within their cultural surroundings. The category of goodness studies the relationship of persons to the teachings of the Catholic faith.

CATH 206: Catholic Anthropology (Sophomore Year)
An exploration of the goodness of human nature as presented by the Catholic Magisterium and Theology. This study considers human beings as creatures called to a final end, and considers philosophical and sociological treatments that complement, and also contend against, this view. Topics will explore the concept of “ontological receptivity” which grounds the human person and defines the persons' creative capacities. Offered every year, in the Spring semester.

CATH 306: Topics in the Lives of the Saints (Junior Year)
Continues the exploration of goodness begun in CATH206 through the study of the lives of the Saints. The lives of the Saints present extraordinary examples of Christian life lived out in goodness and beauty, often in the face of personal and social challenges of their culture and time. The course will consider the saint’s (or saints’) achievements both in terms of their intellectual and cultural significance, and of their significance to Catholic history and the development of the Catholic understanding of the possibilities of grace and freedom. Prerequisite: CATH 205, or permission of the instructor. Offered in Spring, odd-numbered years.

Note: The saints chosen for this course would vary in successive iterations of the course, depending on the interests and desires of the instructor. Faculty from across the curriculum would be encouraged to offer this course.


Courses in the category of Beauty focus on how Catholic thinkers, artists, and writers creatively express their beliefs, their Catholic worldview, and the action of grace in their lives in their writings and works of art. The point is to study not only thinkers and figures for their own sake but the cultural surroundings and how the creativity of each individual emerged in receptivity to the faith. In other words, studies in the category of Beauty reflect on not merely the persons as related to their faith (Goodness) but the products of these persons as related to their person
and faith.

CATH 308: Topics in the Catholic Intellectual and Artistic Tradition (Junior Year)
The continued exploration of the expression of beauty in human life begun in CATH207, by a more concentrated study of Catholic contributions to the intellectual and artistic life. This course will study one or more distinct areas of intellectual endeavor (such as art or music of a specific period, the history of philosophy, theological developments, literature), consider both in terms of its own goals and methodology, and as expressions of the creativity of field and the grace of Christian vocation. Where possible, the course will include study and analysis of the culture and of specific figure’s own writing; otherwise, it will rely on biographical and other sources to inform course analysis. Prerequisite: CATH 205, or permission of the instructor. Offered Spring semester, even-numbered years.

Note: Typically, the class will focus on two-three areas of endeavor, chosen by the professor. It would be ideal if these areas had some connection (ex: art and music; philosophy and theology). Different iterations of this class would focus on different individuals, or on groups of individuals (united because of some similar characteristic.) Topics for this course might include: The legacy and impact of St. Augustine’s City of God; Catholic novelists of the early 20th Century (Chesterton, Tolkien, Waugh, Flannery O’Connor, Graham Greene); John Henry Newman and 19th Century Europe; The Catholic Social Tradition; Catholicism and Education; High Scholasticism; Catholics and the Scientific Revolution.


Cardinal John Henry Newman and Cardinal Francis George make plain that the Catholic life-- intellectual, communal, personal, and spiritual--is marked by integration. We propose one course that seeks to take the broad spectrum of thoughts developed systematically through the lenses of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness and thematically through Grace, Incarnation, Sacrament, Redemption, and Mission into a final integrative seminar.

CATH 495: Catholicism Engaged (WI) (Senior Year)
This capstone course applies the broader dialogue begun in previous CSP courses into a specific, 21st Century context. The first half of the course will look at a specific example of integration, drawing the students to formulate and configure their faith for their majors, future careers, or vocations, and to integrate the broad spectrum of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness within their own lives. Then the course will develop research and writing skills, in preparation for the senior paper required in CATH497. Prerequisite: one 300-level CATH course. This will be a 1-credit course. Offered Fall Semester, even-numbered years.

CATH 497: Senior Paper
The senior paper is an original work a student prepares under the guidance of a professor in the Catholic Studies Department. Drawing upon their understanding of the Catholic faith tradition, and the insights learned in the previous courses, students complete a 5000-7000 word essay that integrates their faith with their academic major, career, or chosen profession. The paper must be approved by the director of the Catholic Studies Program. Prerequisite: one CATH 495. This will be a 1-credit course. Offered Spring Semester.