CREDO Reception @ 2014 ASSA Annual Conference

The Collegium Institute will co-sponsor a breakfast reception for CREDO (Catholic Research Economists Discussion Organization) during the annual meeting of the American Social Science Association (ASSA) in Philadelphia on Saturday, January 4, 2014.

The reception will be held at 8:30 a.m. at the Philadelphia Marriott Independence Ballroom III. Archbishop Charles Chaput will join the breakfast and will celebrate Mass beforehand at 7:45 a.m. at St. John the Evangelist Church nearby.

CREDO fosters community, conversation, and dissemination of non-partisan economic research and expertise as it relates broadly to Catholic social thought, the Church, and society.

For more information about the reception, please contact dcheely@collegiuminstitute.org

Please click here for more information about the American Social Science Association Conference and the daily program of events.

Veritas-Collegium Discussion Forum

Sponsored by the Veritas Forum at Penn and the Collegium Institute.

Rigorous and respectful dialogue.

The Veritas-Collegium Discussion Forum meets weekly on Mondays at 9:00 p.m. in the Upper East Lounge in Hill College House. Discussions last exactly one hour. All Penn undergraduates are welcome.

If you are interested in participating, please contact Daniel Cheely at dcheely@collegiuminstitute.org

Topics have included:
The Purpose of Learning
The Nature of Beauty
Crime and Punishment
Human Rights

Religious Charter Schools

Constitutional? Desirable?

Date & Time: Thursday, October 24th, 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Place: Amado Room, Irvine Auditorium, University of Pennsylvania
RSVP: foxleadership@upenn.edu

DESCRIPTION: Charter schools, as controversial as they may be, have exploded across the landscape of American public education in the last few decades. By introducing competition among schools, choices for families, and rigorous custom-designed learning environments for students, these institutions conceive of themselves as a least partial solutions to the notorious economic achievement gap in elementary education. They also re-introduce classic problems of constitutional law: if each school has its own distinctive mission that students are free to select, then why not a religious mission? Among voluntary institutions, would it be unconstitutional to single out distinctively religious missions for discrimination? Even if so, who might want a religious charter school? What academic needs might they be able to fill that a non-religious school cannot address? What new concerns might they create? At least one thing is clear — they would not emerge in empty space: would they not be resisted by parochial and religious private schools as much as by secular advocates of the Establishment Clause? These questions will guide our panel of distinguished speakers as they discuss the ramifications of the neoliberal turn in public education.

FEATURED SPEAKER:

Aaron Saiger: Professor of Law at Fordham University and Author of a recent article, “Charter Schools, the Establishment Clause, and the Neoliberal Turn in Public Education.”

Dr. Saiger graduated from Harvard College and then completed his JD at Columbia University. Before earning his PhD for Princeton University in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Dr. Saiger clerked for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the Supreme Court of the United States. He is now Professor of Law at Fordham University where he specializes in issues surrounding religion, school choice and government/constitutional challenges in education. His recent essay, “Charter Schools, the Establishment Clause, and the Neoliberal Turn in Public Education,” was published in the Cardozo Law Review last April.

DISCUSSANTS:

Rev. Dr. Wilson Goode: Former Mayor of Philadelphia.

Wilson Goode was the first African-American to be elected Mayor of Philadelphia, where he served two terms beginning in 1983. He remains active in both public and private education, serving as a board member of the Cornerstone Christian Academy, Southwest Leadership Academy Charter School, and Communities in Schools of Philadelphia, Inc. Dr. Goode is CEO of Philadelphia Leadership Foundation (PLF) and director of the Amachi Program, a national faith-based mentoring model for children of incarcerated parents. Because of his innovative and ground-breaking work in 2006, he was named the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Citizen of the Year. He is an ordained Baptist Minister with 54 years of service at the First Baptist Church of Paschall in southwest Philadelphia.

Joan Goodman: Professor of Education, Culture, and Society Division in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania and Co-author of The Moral Stake in Education: Contested Premises and Practices.

For thirty years, Dr. Goodman combined teaching with clinical psychology at children’s hospitals in Washington D.C., Oakland, and Philadelphia. Her primary interests now have shifted to moral education, both theoretical and applied. She addresses such questions as: What is a moral value? How do values develop in children? How do we foster values and, more important, a moral identity? How do we understand and reconcile conflicting values? These issues are the subject of two books she co-authored with Penn law professor Howard Lesnick, The Moral Stake in Education: Contested Premises and Practices and Moral Education: A Teacher-Centered Approach. With Usha Balamore, a kindergarten teacher turned principal, she co-authored Teaching Goodness: Engaging the Moral and Academic Promise of Young Children.

MODERATOR:

John J. DiIulio, Jr.: Frederic Fox Leadership Professor of Politics, Religion, and Civil Society, and Professor of Political Science, at the University of Pennsylvania and served as the first director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives from 2001-2002.

Dr. DiIulio is the Frederic Fox Leadership Professor of Politics, Religion, and Civil Society. He has developed programs to mentor the children of prisoners, provide literacy training in low-income communities, reduce homicides in high-crime police districts, and support inner-city Catholic schools that serve low-income children. He has been a research center director at the Brookings Institution, the Manhattan Institute, and Public/Private Ventures. During his academic leave in 2001-2002, he served as first director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

This event is sponsored by Penn’s Fox Leadership Program, the Program for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society, and the Collegium Institute for Catholic Thought & Culture.
Please find a PDF of this event information here.

 

Q and A with Professor Brad S. Gregory

An Interview with Professor Brad S. Gregory

Professor Brad S. Gregory, Dorothy G. Griffin Collegiate Professor of Early Modern European History at the University of Notre Dame, and author of The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society (2011) reconnected with Executive Director of the Collegium Institute, Daniel Cheely, to answer questions about “The Future of the Historical Study of Religion,” the influence of the Catholic intellectual tradition in his academic career, and the importance of cultivating reflection on the unity of truth in the modern research university.

Q. You were the featured speaker for a Collegium Institute panel on “The Future of the Historical Study of Religion.” How would you characterize your approach to that subject? What recommendations would you propose for the field?

A. I have long argued that the attempt to understand past people on their own terms, by which I mean to render them in ways we have reason to think they would recognize themselves, should be the indispensable first task of historians, including historians of religion. The principal obstacle to this objective, in my view, is the assumption of often uncritically held metaphysical commitments by historians about religion per se, many of which informed classic explanatory theories of religion from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (e.g. Marx, Weber, Durkheim, Freud, Malinowski). To impose reductionist theories of religion on religious men and women is simply to construct them in one’s own image, according to one’s own secular beliefs. But attempting to understand and reconstruct the beliefs, behaviors, and commitments of past religious actors on their own terms does not mean that is all we can or should do in the historical study of religion. The historical reconstruction of divergent, opposed beliefs and behaviors in context permits us to go quite some way in explaining change over time, simply because people’s convictions, whether religious or not, self-consciously held or only implicit, usually inform their behaviors. And explaining change over time is one of the most important tasks and most difficult challenges historians face. The value of historically reconstructing opposed beliefs and conflicting behaviors is especially apparent in periods of profound religious disruption, such as the Reformation era in Western Europe, which is the main focus of my own research.

Q. You earned two degrees in philosophy from the Catholic University of Louvain and have developed your academic career at the University of Notre Dame. How would you say that the Catholic intellectual tradition informs your work and your vocation?

A. I am constantly aware of my faith commitments as a scholar. But paradoxically, that awareness has led me to develop a historical methodology that, so far as I can tell, is consistent with Catholicism but in no way dependent on it. The main reason for adopting this approach is that I want to write history that is potentially persuasive to scholars who do not share my commitments. To lead with one’s faith is a bad strategy if one wants to convince those who don’t share it. But this doesn’t mean adopting the status quo dismissiveness or contemptuousness about the plausibility of religious truth claims that is quite common in the academy. Hence my own approach includes a criticism of the frequently unquestioned metaphysical and epistemological assumptions that still inform much scholarship about religion, in which methodological naturalism is too easily elided with metaphysical naturalism — in effect, thereby denying that any religious claims that purport to speak of transcendent realities, an afterlife, miraculous events, and so forth, could be true. The Catholic intellectual tradition has also influenced me to think broadly about the human past, because of the ways in which it conceives human life as a complex, interconnected whole. And it has led me to think about history in the long term, in part because Christianity is a religious tradition with its origins in the ancient world but has persisted to the present, having been inculturated during the intervening two millennia in an extraordinary range of different societies and cultures. I don’t think a Catholic intellectual should be indifferent to that; certainly a Catholic historian should not be. 

Q. “The Unintended Reformation,” your wildly successful second monograph, traces the secularization of the modern research university. How can room still be made for God at this university? How might it be possible to recultivate reflection upon the unity of truth?

A. This is related to what I said above. In our current context, I think probably the most important assumption that needs to be undone is that the success of the natural sciences in explaining natural regularities is somehow related to the implausibility of the truth claims of revealed religions about a transcendent creator-God. Many Christians unwittingly make this assumption, too, and don’t understand how to articulate or conceive alternatives that are consistent with their faith. The key to making “room” for God (an interestingly and unintentionally revealing metaphor for a reality that, if indeed real, is non-spatial) is questioning the metaphysical assumptions that led to God’s exclusion in the first place, and becoming aware of the ways in which they continue to function in the academy today, almost always among scholars who are unaware of them. When God and creation were conceived univocally as part of being beginning in the fourteenth century, when Occam’s razor was applied to the relationship between explanatorily adequate natural causality and divine presence, when natural and supernatural causality were understood to belong to the same flattened plane of causality in the seventeenth century, the presuppositions were in place for the eventual exclusion of God via the increasing explanatory power of the natural sciences. But this in effect imagines God as hypothetical causal agent within creation, not as the extra-temporal and non-spatial transcendent creator of it. Those who think God’s existence is somehow imperiled or rendered implausible by neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory or any other area of the contemporary natural sciences simply do not understand what traditional Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, for example, mean by “God.” Note that this tack of trying to open a place for religious discourse in the university does not rely on setting intelletual concerns aside, allowing people to speak on the basis of “faith” or “from the heart,” but of questioning complacent assumptions based on historical knowledge and philosophical argument.

Rekindling reflection on the unity of truth is a different kind of problem, one born more of research specialization and the extraordinary proliferation of knowledge in every academic discipline and subdiscipline, with no end in sight. Here, in brief, I would say that a crucial first step is to realize that concern with interdisciplinarity, while commendable for its recognition that scholars and scientists should take account of research relevant to their own inquiries that is conducted outside their own specialties and disciplines, is not enough. It is a symptom of, not a solution to, research specialization. What we need to recover as the basis for thinking more deeply about the unity of truth is an appreciation for the interconnectedness of reality in ways that not only can enable, say, physicists and molecular biologists to talk to one another, but also natural scientists and humanistic scholars. Human beings, for example, are systems of matter-energy, complex organisms made of cellular systems, members of social groups and political institutions, and users of language and cultural symbols — all at the same time. But how many scholars or scientists in the academy are trying to understand how all these realities are related to each other, in ways that do justice to each of the phenomena involved rather than asserting, for example, that neurobiology embedded within evolutionary processes can explain everything?

Q. Please tell us about your experience speaking at the inaugural event of the Collegium Institute and about your hopes for the institute’s future.

A. I think the Collegium Institute is a superb initiative, and I was honored to be the speaker at its inaugural event. I enjoyed the experience very much, found the discussion lively and engaged, and appreciated the comments by Professors E. Ann Matter and Justin McDaniel and Penn’s Department of Religious Studies. There is no reason why Catholicism and the Catholic intellectual tradition should be marginalized or indeed, ignored, in secular research universities, whether public or private, given the extent to which programs in Jewish or Buddhist Studies are institutionalized and flourishing. Robust programming that brings to bear, on the full range of disciplines, in contemporary research universities, Catholicism’s intellectual heritage and abiding power as a living, intellectually viable religious tradition in the present can, it seem to me, only enhance the range of discourse at a university such as Penn, or indeed anywhere else. It makes the range of questions and topics that can be addressed more diverse and thereby increases academic freedom. I hope the Collegium Institute flourishes into the future and draws a wide range of students and faculty, non-Catholic as well as Catholic, into its lectures, conferences, and other events.

Event Reminder: What Happened to American Christianity? 9/19

Please join us this Thursday, September 19th, 2013 at 12 noon in the Terrace Room of Cohen Hall, G17 for our panel discussion: What Happened to American Christianity?

The event will be a retrospective conversation on the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington and the Second Vatican Council.

The panel features New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, author of Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics (2013); Rev. Charles L. Howard, university chaplain at the University of Pennsylvania; Melissa Wilde, Associate Professor of Sociology & Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania; and, Robert Wuthnow, Gerhard R. Andlinger ’52 Professor of Sociology at Princeton University. The conversation will be moderated by Brad Wilcox, Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Virginia.

This event is cosponsored by the Department of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania.
Refreshments served.

Please find further information about our speakers and the event here.

The Future of the Historical Study of Religion

An Afternoon Colloquium
Date & Time: Friday, Sept 13th, noon
Place: Wolf Lecture Room, The McNeil Center, 34th & Sansom Street

FEATURED SPEAKER:

Brad S. Gregory: Dorothy G. Griffin Collegiate Professor of Early Modern European History, University of Notre Dame and Author of The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society (2011).

RESPONDENTS:

E. Ann Matter: William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Religious Studies & Member of the History Graduate Group, University of Pennsylvania

Justin McDaniel: Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania and Author of The Lovelorn Ghost and the Magic Monk: Practicing Buddhism in Modern Thailand (2011).

MODERATOR:
Margo Todd: Walter H. Annenberg Professor of History, University of Pennsylvania and Author of Christian Humanism and the Puritan Social Order (2002).
This event is cosponsored by Departments of History and Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.
Refreshments served.
Please find a PDF of our event poster here.

What Happened to American Christianity?

A Retrospective Conversation on the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington and the Second Vatican Council

Date & Time: Thursday, Sept 19th, Noon
Place: Terrace Room, Cohen Hall G17

PANELISTS:

Mr. Ross Douthat: Columnist, New York Times, and Author of Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics (2013) and Privilege: Harvard and the Education of the Ruling Class (2006)

Rev. Charles L. Howard, PhD: University Chaplain, University of Pennsylvania, and Author of essays featured in Black Arts Quarterly, Black Theology: An International Journal, Daily Good, Urban Cusp, Sojourners Magazine, and The Huffington Post.

Dr. Melissa Wilde: Associate Professor of Sociology & Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania, and Author of Vatican II: A Sociological Analysis of Religious Change (2007) as well as numerous scholarly articles on sex and class in American mainline Protestantism and Roman Catholicism.

Dr. Robert Wuthnow: Gerhard R. Andlinger `52 Professor of Sociology, Princeton University, and Director of the Center for the Study of Religion.  His publications include After the Baby Boomers: How Twenty- and Thirty-Somethings Are Shaping the Future of American Religion; America and the Challenges of Religious Diversity; and Saving America? Faith-Based Services and the Future of Civil Society.  His most recent book is Remaking the Heartland:Middle America Since the 1950s.

MODERATOR:

Dr. Brad Wilcox: Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Virginia, and Author of Soft Patriarchs, New Men: How Christianity Shapes Fathers and Husbands.

This event is cosponsored by the Department of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania.
Refreshments served.
Please find a PDF of our event poster here.

Collegium Institute to Cosponsor 2014 CREDO Reception

Collegium Institute cosponsors reception for CREDO (Catholic Research Economics Discussion Organization) during the annual meeting of the American Social Science Association (ASSA) in Philadelphia in January 2014.

CREDO fosters community, conversation, and dissemination of non-partisan economic research and expertise as it relates broadly to Catholic social thought, the Church, and society. Archbishop Chaput will join the breakfast and celebrate 7:45 am Mass at St. John the Evangelist Church immediately prior. Co-sponsored by the Collegium Institute.