The College of Arts and Sciences' mission and vision are pursued in a context of academic excellence. For us "excellence" is not limited to the mastery of a particular specialty or area of study, but is also defined in terms of the interrelation and integration of various branches of human knowledge. We believe that an ethical and academically excellent environment is marked by the interaction of differing perspectives and experiences among its members. To realize this vision we place priority upon the following:
The College of Arts and Sciences will ensure that engaged learning opportunities are available to students in all majors in the College and infused throughout the Core Curriculum. Initiatives in this area will include, but are not limited to: community-based learning, undergraduate research and creative activity, study abroad, internships, interactive uses of technology, and hands-on experimentation.
The College of Arts and Sciences will assure that a variety of valuable intercultural experiences is available to students in all majors in the College as well as in appropriate Core courses. Initiatives in this area will include but are not limited to: study abroad, service learning, and performance and research activities designed to foster students' intercultural competence.
The College of Arts and Sciences will enrich the intellectual and creative life of the University community through the scholarship of its faculty. The College defines scholarship broadly to include discovery, artistic activity, integration, and pedagogy. Our faculty model life-long learning through continual engagement with disciplinary and interdisciplinary interests, and expose students to their scholarship by integrating it into their teaching. The College supports student-faculty collaborative scholarship.
The College of Arts and Sciences will promote the development of interdisciplinary learning in majors and the Core Curriculum. Initiatives in this area will include the expansion of team-taught and paired courses.
The College of Arts and Sciences will foster in students the values and sensibilities necessary to be morally responsible members of their professions and their communities, including personal integrity, respect for human rights, and the promotion of a just social order. Each program in the College will infuse its curriculum, including its contributions to the Core, with a focus on the moral dynamics appropriate to the discipline and to issues surrounding life in a complex, changing society.
The College of Arts and Sciences will work to attract and retain a highly talented and diverse faculty, staff, and student body through recruitment, advising and mentorship, and curricular and co-curricular innovation.
Placing the College Mission in the Context of the University Mission
This Mission is a concise statement of the place and purpose of the College of Arts and Sciences within the University of St. Thomas. The Vision affirms the fundamental convictions of the College. The Priorities are areas we want to strengthen and develop. The document refers to the College as a unit. Individual departments and programs contribute to the Mission, Vision and Priorities within their particular disciplinary callings.
This statement reflects values also expressed in Pope John Paul II’s 1990 document, On Catholic Universities (Ex corde ecclesiae). In that text, the Pope describes the responsibility of a Catholic university to “consecrate itself without reserve to the cause of truth;" it is to be a witness to the “intrinsic value of knowledge and research.” Among the characteristics of a Catholic university that the Pope addresses are the integration of knowledge, the dialogue between faith and reason and interdisciplinary studies.
Pope John Paul II was specifically interested in diversity and moral responsibility. Regarding diversity he writes that Catholic universities today must become more attentive to the cultures of the world. They must be open to all human experience and be ready to dialogue with and learn from any culture. They must include the free expression of cultural diversity and dialogue between cultures. Every Catholic university, is, moreover, "responsible to contribute concretely to the progress of the society with which it works: for example it will be capable of searching for ways to make university education accessible to all those who are able to benefit from it, especially the poor or members of minority groups who customarily have been deprived of it.”
Regarding moral responsibility the Pope states that the promotion of social justice is of particular importance for Catholic universities. They must “encourage students to become more aware of their responsibility toward those who are suffering physically or spiritually. They will be particularly attentive to the poorest and to those who suffer economic, social, cultural or religious injustice.”
What the Pope says about the nature of the community in a Catholic university, that it is “animated by the 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,” describes the aspirations of the College of Arts and Sciences.