Our traditions

Our degrees support students to think differently through our deep intellectual tradition of liberal education.

In today’s world, critical thinking and creativity are essential life skills.

At Notre Dame, we encourage our students to engage in open and thorough enquiry and debate to expand their minds. Our students learn to think creatively and critically, to see the world, its opportunities, and their place in it more clearly. Students learn for life.

Philosophy, Theology and Ethics are part of all Notre Dame degrees. Through this Core Curriculum, you will develop the ability to think and reason.

These courses contribute to helping students enter the world equipped with skills in ethical decision-making while also balancing and respecting the views and perspectives that are different from their own.

The ethos of all our degrees is centred on the Catholic Intellectual Tradition, which focuses on:

  • encouraging excellent standards of teaching, learning and professional training and;
  • fostering skills in critical reasoning and collaboration.

Pastoral care

Our pastoral care program ensures that every student is valued, and is nurtured towards achieving their goals, both academic and personal, to live a rich, fulfilling, and purposeful life serving the common good.

The University aims to provide an environment in which every student is encouraged and enabled to develop their own unique gifts and talents, to realise their God given potential, to realise their interconnectedness with all others and to seek to serve the common good.

Notre Dame seeks to promote and enhance the wellbeing of each individual student through:

  • complementing university learning and theoretical knowledge through practical, real-world experience
  • a personalised educational experience for every student
  • providing opportunities and an environment in which students are encouraged to grow and develop in all aspects of their life: personal, social, physical, mental and spiritual

Some examples of pastoral care at Notre Dame include:

  • personalised approach to admissions
  • small class sizes
  • one-on-one contact with academic staff
  • individualised academic and counselling support programs
  • welcoming liturgies and faith opportunities
  • sporting and cultural activities.

Pastoral care also shapes how we carry out our mission, such as how we approach decision making, processes and policies.

Pastoral care at Notre Dame is an institutional and individual response to the call of Jesus for us "to love one another as I have loved you" (John 15.12) and "In everything do to others as you would have them do to you" (Matthew 7:12). It is based on respect for the dignity and uniqueness of each and every person who is made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27). It is shaped and formed by the example of Jesus (the Good Shepherd) and Catholic Teaching.

A Catholic University pursues its objectives through its formation of an authentic human community animated by the spirit of Christ. The source of its unity springs from a common dedication to the truth, a common vision of the dignity of the human person and, ultimately, the person and message of Christ which gives the Institution its distinctive character. As a result of this inspiration, the community is animated by a spirit of freedom and charity; it is characterized by mutual respect, sincere dialogue, and protection of the rights of individuals. It assists each of its members to achieve wholeness as human persons; in turn, everyone in the community helps in promoting unity. (Ex Corde Ecclesiae)

Catholic intellectual tradition of liberal education

The Catholic intellectual tradition begins with the thought that faith is fully compatible with reason (i.e. there is no conflict between our religion and any true science or other academic knowledge).

Catholic universities have existed for hundreds of years throughout the world, though only since 1990 in Australia.

We embrace both the modern Australian university tradition and the ancient and esteemed traditions of Catholic universities both in Europe and North America.

The Catholic intellectual tradition contains a vast and rich treasury of ideas, reflections, thoughts and practices that inspire thousands of universities and higher educational providers around the world. It also underpins whole systems of Christian social action and informs the personal and working lives of millions of individuals.

The tradition acknowledges that:

  • men and women of all traditions can come to know that God exists by using their minds, their reason— though to know much more about Him will also require faith;
  • people can distinguish between reality and illusion, and so can know the objective truth about the world;
  • ethics, or morality, is not simply a matter of what you like or what your culture approves but is based on some objective moral truths about human persons and their nourishing — truths that hold across cultures;
  • the foundations of morality (e.g. we should never attack human life; truth is good and should be pursued; marriage and family are great social goods; people have a natural right to anything strictly necessary for their welfare) are known by reason, our own thinking minds—we do not need faith to know the basis of morality;
  • society exists to serve the common good and has a particular duty towards the needs of the most vulnerable — from conception to old age;
  • prayer is a crucial activity for religious believers; we pray together frequently for the happiness and salvation of all peoples, including our own happiness and salvation; and
  • it is our Christian duty to provide the works of the Church humbly to all who can benefit from them. The tradition is captured in many publications, including teaching documents of the Church — of social statements and explanations of Catholic positions.

Interested in learning more? We’ve put together some suggested readings