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Dominican introduces new Catholic Studies minor for fall semester

By: Dominic Schwab, Staff Reporter

Dominican’s Department of Theology announced on April 15 that it will offer a new Catholic Studies minor next fall designed to highlight Dominican’s Catholic identity within the school’s curriculum.

Professor David Perry, a teacher who specializes in medieval history, is in charge of the upcoming minor.

Perry said several professors in and outside of the theology department wanted to create a specific Catholic discipline.  The Catholic Studies minor will draw upon several existing disciplines, each of which focuses in some way on Catholicism by looking at the religion in its historical, cultural, or traditional context.

“The minor is intended to build a body of and develop a deep knowledge of Catholicism from three main areas,” Perry said. “Our underlying theme for the minor has been ‘History, Culture and Thought.’”

For the theology department, Professor Perry and the other professors will teach courses that will fulfill the minor’s requirements.

The new minor will offer more than mere theology courses.  It will allow students to take a wide variety of interdisciplinary courses, from history to English to Spanish and Italian studies.

“The minor is about building networks integrated with other disciplines,” Perry said. “We’re looking at Catholic cultural expressions, historical connections of Catholic peoples and Catholicism itself.”

Sophomore Tom Puhr was supportive of the new minor, but he had some questions.

“I’m confused as to the necessity for [the Catholic Studies minor] when we already have a theology department,” Puhr said, “although it makes sense because we are a Catholic institution.”

Mary Stimming, an associate professor who will teach the foundational course for the new minor, also stressed the importance it would have for Dominican.

“The program is a wonderful embodiment of Dominican’s mission and values,” Stimming said. “It offers students a way to cherish, challenge and create anew the Catholic tradition.  It invites all students on this journey, Catholic and non-Catholic.”

Senior Vicki Whooper wants to make sure other religions aren’t left out.

“A Catholic Studies minor would be good to offer, but we must make sure not to disrespect other religions as well,” Whooper said.

Perry said the point of the minor is “Catholicism in contact with non-Catholic traditions and Catholicism in contact with itself.”

Stimming also provided some insight as to how the new minor came into existence.  The idea of offering a Catholic Studies minor had been discussed within the theology department for a while, but it was not until the last two years that the idea became more concrete.

“Professor Hugh McElwain’s discussions with David Perry and Richard Woods moved it [the Catholic Studies minor] from idea to reality,” Stimming said. “Final approval was granted by the Curriculum Committee on April 15.”

The Committee is comprised of faculty and student representatives of all the schools who are participating in the program.

Puhr wondered about the possibility of the minor leading to other similar minors.

“Other religious studies might be interesting too, especially since they’re trying to promote interfaith understanding.” Puhr said.

Information about the new minor can be found on flyers hung around campus.  For additional information, contact professor Perry at perryd@dom.edu.

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