Catholic intellectual tradition
In today’s world, thinking critically and creatively are essential life skills.
Notre Dame degrees, based in the Catholic intellectual tradition of liberal education, equip students with an increased ability to think and reason, a vital advantage not only during study but far beyond to their professional and personal lives.
Students are encouraged to expand their minds. They learn to think creatively and critically, to see the world, its opportunities and their place in it more clearly. They learn to learn for life.
We do this through our Core Curriculum courses in Philosophy, Theology and Ethics which are part of all Notre Dame degrees. They are designed to provide a unique and enduring advantage in all aspects of daily life.
Through these courses students develop invaluable skills and graduate with the ability to think and reason – skills valued highly by employers.
From a student point of view, we provide everything you would expect to find at any Australian university and more. At Notre Dame you will have an exceptional educational experience designed to set you up for life and a great career.
Catholic intellectual tradition of liberal education
Catholic universities have existed for hundreds of years throughout the world, though only since 1990 in Australia.
Notre Dame has embraced 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 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).
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.
Want to learn more? Here are some suggested readings:
- Compendium to the Catechism of the Catholic Church,
- Our Sunday Visitor’s Encyclopaedia of Catholic Doctrine (Our Sunday Visitor: 1998).
- Apostolic Constitution of the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II on Catholic Universities
The Core Curriculum courses in Philosophy, Ethics and Theology are a distinguishing characteristic of a Notre Dame undergraduate education which aim to achieve a real change in students’ understanding and choices.
The Core is intriguing and enjoyable, builds mind and character, and opens up questions that will help make life and work more meaningful and richer in potential. The program has several functions:
- helps to create and sustain the ‘context of Catholic faith and values’ which is central to the Objects of the University as defined in its enabling Act of Parliament.
- provides a liberal education base for the wide range of professional courses undertaken by most undergraduate students prior to entry to their chosen vocation.
- encourages a ‘coming together’ of students from many religious traditions (and none at all) and provide a setting in which important social and moral issues can be freely discussed and debated.
- complements the ‘service learning’ and social justice education units which many students undertake as part of their courses.