This blog is a place for Notre Dame students and others to share their thoughts on Father Jenkins' forthcoming policy on academic freedom and Catholic identity at Our Lady's University.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Carry out simple fact-checking

In a February 10 letter to the Observer entitled "Contesting academic equivalence," Philosophy professor Fritz Warfield challenged:

"Here's a take home assignment for Jenkins, his staff and for any reporter interested in investigating his claims about academic freedom. Ask presidents and department chairs at major universities whether academic freedom at their institutions permits academic departments to sponsor events as they see fit. The answer one can expect to get is an unambiguous 'yes.'

Clearly some members of the University community believe that because of our Catholic character, academic freedom at Notre Dame should work differently than it does at major universities. I and others disagree and the debate continues.

Jenkins' remarks indicate that he apparently wants to have it both ways: He wants to say that academic freedom at Notre Dame is the same as academic freedom at, for example, Michigan, but he wants the freedom that Michigan academic departments have to sponsor events as they see fit not to attach to Notre Dame academic departments. "
Four days later, colleague John O'Callaghan responds:

"Warfield suggests that it is a simple 'fact-checking exercise' to determine that at other major universities, the University of Michigan being his chosen example, 'academic departments [are free] to sponsor events as they see fit.'

"... on Jan. 27 of this year, the departments of philosophy and theology at the University of Notre Dame sponsored an event, a Roman Catholic Mass to celebrate the vigil feast of St. Thomas Aquinas. Given that St. Thomas is the patron saint of universities and students, this was not only a liturgical event but also an academic event, including an erudite homily about the nature of Catholic intellectual life and universities, as well as prayer for the University, its students, faculty and staff. Several hundred students, faculty, staff and community members filled the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Such an event perfectly exemplifies the Catholic refusal to segregate the worship of God from the intellectual life, or to divorce faith from reason in academics, in contrast to prevailing secular norms like those at the University of Michigan and elsewhere. Or does my colleague really believe that the department of philosophy at the University of Michigan is free to sponsor this type of event 'as it sees fit?'"
(Read More)

5:37 AM


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3:21 PM  

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