The Jesuit Ratio Studiorum: 400th Anniversary Perspectives

The Jesuit Ratio Studiorum: 400th Anniversary Perspectives

The Jesuit Ratio Studiorum: 400th Anniversary Perspectives

The Jesuit Ratio Studiorum: 400th Anniversary Perspectives

Synopsis

The guiding pedagogical document for Jesuit education worldwide was definitively set out in a 1599 tome entitled Ratio Atque Instituto Studiorum Societatis Jesu, "The Plan and Methodology of Jesuit Education." This plan has been praised by scholars from Francis Bacon in the seventeenth century to Harry Broudy and Paul Shore in our day. Some scholars and educators, upon learning of this tradition for the first time, have called it a "best-kept secret." And so it was timely that, at the dawn of the new millennium, an invitational 400th anniversary celebration of the Ratio Studiorum would be held at Fordham University in October of 1999. The fruit of the scholarly papers presented there make up the substance of this book. In addition, two key documents of the late-twentieth-century renewal of Jesuit education are included in the appendixes of this volume. Both The Characteristics of Jesuit Education (1986) and Ignatian Pedagogy: A Practical Approach (1993) have been out of printin English and are provided here in full.

Excerpt

One of the hottest topics in the field of Catholic education in the late twentieth century concerned the identity of Catholic educational institutions. in connection with Ex Corde Ecclesiae and development of regional norms for implementation of this apostolic constitution, discussions and debates have occurred at the level of Catholic higher education. At the level of Catholic elementary and secondary education, one need only cast an eye over the topics of presentations at the annual conventions of the National Catholic Education Association since 1980. the topic of identity occurs with striking frequency. It would seem that in our times of major value paradigm shifts in religious, civic, and professional circles on a worldwide scale, clarity concerning the effective identity of Catholic education and its mission becomes urgent for a number of reasons.

Significantly, increased numbers of lay staff and younger religious (who do not have deeply rooted understanding of the raison d’être and mission of schools, colleges, and universities that are Catholic) swell the ranks of faculty members and administrators. Emerging Boards of Trustees, well intentioned and committed, often are not clear concerning the identity and mission, which is the sacred trust of any Board at a Catholic institution. This confusion can result in less of a sense of distinctiveness in program and pedagogy, as well as inadequate criteria for evaluation. the call, therefore, has been as Vatican II set out over thirty years ago, that we return to the charism of our founders to rediscover the graced insights that spark and direct the service God’s people need from us. in light of that rediscovery we are called to apply it to the real situations we face today.

in 1990, the Vatican issued this papal document, which addressed the Catholic identity of Catholic colleges and universities throughout the world. While all agreed on the description of the values and challenges to be espoused by Catholic higher education, development of specific regional norms for the United States prompted years of debate and discussion among the Church hierarchy and presidents of Catholic universities. in November, 1999, the United States Catholic Conference of bishops finally adopted a set of regional norms.

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