CATHOLIC VALUES COLUMNIST
One of Franciscan University of Steubenville’s newest offerings promises to help people think with the mind of the Church at a time when society needs it most, says the program’s interim director.
“It’s a way of bringing together everything that we’re good at here,” said Andrew Jones, Franciscan professor of philosophy and interim director of the university’s Masters in Catholic Studies program. “(This program) integrates all the different fields and disciplines into one Catholic vision, one program that we can present to other people.”
The new program is aimed to help students ground their careers, whatever they may be, into a Catholic vision of reality, Jones added. Students will study areas such as history, literature, art, philosophy and theology from a Catholic viewpoint as taught by several high-profile Franciscan University professors.
The area of Catholic studies is a growing field, as several Catholic colleges — the University of St. Thomas, Loyola University and the University of Mary, to name a few — offer similar degrees that are doing well. Jones attributes this flourishment to a desire from people to develop a greater Catholic worldview.
“There are millions of Catholics who have earned their undergraduate degree without having a Catholic education but would like to get one,” Jones said. “This degree integrates all different fields and disciplines into one Catholic vision to help people who want to see the world with Catholic eyes.”
But, Jones said, two things make Franciscan’s program more attractive than the others. The first is that it’s practical, as it’s the only one that will be completely available online. This fits in well with the target audience of the new program — people who are already in the workforce and need the degree of flexibility that online courses offer.
The second reason, however, goes deeper.
“At Franciscan, the faculty throughout the disciplines are committed Catholics,” he said. “That’s not the way it is at other schools. We have world-class, Catholic faculty … committed to a Catholic worldview. I don’t think anyone can pull it together like Franciscan.”
Faculty for the program will include Franciscan professors such as Paul Symington, philosophy; Benjamin Wiker, political science; Michael Waldstein, theology; Daniel Kuebler, biology; Matthew Breuninger, psychology; John Holmes, English; and Linus Meldrum, fine arts.
Jones said these professors bring an incredible advantage to the program: “Our primary objective is mission. We want to help people grow in their faith through growing in their intellectual ability and education. … There’s an objective value of having teachers who know what they’re talking about.”
The master’s in Catholic Studies is slated to begin in fall 2020, pending approval by the Ohio Department of Higher Education and the Higher Learning Commission. According to Jones, courses will be completed in eight-week sessions, with two courses per semester and six per year, including the summer. Additionally, the program can be completed in as little as two years or longer, depending on an individual student’s needs.
“There’s different ways of advancing the missionary goal of the university and this (one) is directly educational,” Jones said. “We’re hoping that we answer a need that’s out there among a lot of adults who are in their careers already.”
More information on the new program can be found on its website, https://spt.franciscan.edu/programs/ma-in-catholic-studies/.