Academic journal article Journal of Catholic Education

The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme in U.S. Catholic High Schools: An Answer to the Church's Call to Global Solidarity

Academic journal article Journal of Catholic Education

The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme in U.S. Catholic High Schools: An Answer to the Church's Call to Global Solidarity

Article excerpt

In a 2007 address to the Mid-Atlantic Catholic Schools Consortium, Timothy Cook of Creighton University challenged Catholic school leaders to accentuate the global and international aspect of their Catholic identity. He said that as the Church is universal, Catholic schools should be leading the country in global and international education, and that American Catholic educators had not capitalized on this part of their identity. By promoting global awareness and solidarity, multicultural perspectives, and international relationships, Catholic schools could make a unique contribution to America and to the world (Cook, 2008). Cook was making reference to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' 1997 document entitled Called to Global Solidarity in which the bishops wrote:

At a time of dramatic global changes and challenges, Catholics in the United States face special responsibilities and opportunities. We are members of a universal church that transcends national boundaries and calls us to live in solidarity and justice with the peoples of the world. As Catholics and Americans we are uniquely called to global solidarity. (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1997, p. 1)

The bishops point out that the universality of the Church is one of "God's greatest gifts," but that the Church's international institutions, programs, and special Sunday collections "have not yet awakened a true sense of solidarity among many Catholics in the United States," and that Catholics "need to be more Catholic and less parochial" (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1997, p. 1).

Assessing the role that Catholic education should play in this regard, the bishops argued in support of "Catholic educators who consistently integrate contemporary international concerns into their curricula and programs such as geography, history, and science classes," while pointing out that "too many educational programs still neglect or ignore the global dimensions of our Catholic calling" (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1997, p. 9). They "urge all Catholic educators to share the Church's teaching on the global dimensions of our social mission more intentionally, more explicitly, and more creatively," encouraging "the incorporation of the call to global solidarity into our schools, religious education programs, sacramental preparation, and Christian initiation programs" (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1997, p. 9).

Although a secular program, the International Baccalaureate (IB) is providing Catholic schools a framework to meet the bishops' challenge when combined with formation in faith and morals and a sacramental worldview. The IB presents Catholic schools with an option for a high-quality, academically challenging curriculum that can prepare Catholic school graduates of the 21st century to bring Christ to an increasingly interconnected global society. This paper will argue that the adoption of the IB can effectively increase academic rigor at the high school level and serve as a potential marketing tool to attract students to Catholic schools. Using examples from several Catholic high schools, this paper will also examine how the IB can help schools to deepen the realization of Catholic identity and provide them with an ordered, humanities-based curriculum that draws on the Catholic tradition of education as it helps young people develop what Pope John Paul II (1987) in his encyclical Sollicitudo Rei Socialis called "the Virtue of Solidarity" (1987, sec. 38, para. 6).

International Baccalaureate

The IB has become an important vehicle for curriculum reform in American education, offering programs of the highest academic rigor while creating a disposition toward international or intercultural understanding in students who complete its course of study. The IB offers three academic programs: the Diploma Programme, the Middle Years Programme, and the Primary Years Programme. …

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