The University of St. Thomas

Center for Catholic Studies | John A. Ryan Institute

About the John A. Ryan Institute

About the John A. Ryan Institute

About Us


List of John A. Ryan Institute Activities.

A Brief History:
  In 1992, Robert Kennedy (director) and Michael Naughton (associate director) established  the Center for Christian Social Thought and Management at the University of St. Thomas (UST).  With close to 50% of students matriculating from UST in business (undergraduate and graduate), it was important for the university to examine the larger question of faith and work and in particular the relationship between Catholic social thought and business theory and practice.

In 1996, the Center was renamed the John A. Ryan Institute for Catholic Social Thought and became a part of the Center for Catholic Studies. Msgr. John A. Ryan, a graduate from St. Thomas and its Seminary, was one of the great pioneers in Catholic social thought in the first part of the 20th century.  His two major texts, A Living Wage (1906) and Distributive Justice (1916) inform the work of the Institute. 

Purpose: The John A. Ryan Institute explores the relationship between the Catholic social tradition and business theory and practice by fostering a deeper integration of faith and work. Drawing upon the resources of the university, the Ryan Institute promotes this integration by sponsoring seminars, conferences and publications that engage:

  • Research
  • Faculty and curriculum development
  • Leadership outreach

As an integral part of the University of St. Thomas’ Center for Catholic Studies, the Ryan Institute relies upon the rich theological and philosophical resources of the Catholic tradition and its unique contributions to the academy, business, society, and the Church. The Ryan Institute has become an important voice in Catholic higher education by helping to build a community of scholars and practitioners dedicated to examining issues at the intersection of business and the Catholic social tradition.

Research: The Ryan Institute provides opportunities for a sustained reflection on the relationship between the Catholic social tradition and business by:

  • Organinzing international conferences and seminars on Catholic social thought and business education
  • Publishing a wide variety of books and articles
  • Posting conference and seminar papers and electronic books online
  • Developing an extensive database of international scholars and practitioners
  • Creating a comprehensive, online, searchable database of institutes and organizations working in the area of Catholic social thought

Curriculum Development The institute explores creative ways to incorporate the Catholic social tradition into business education. By offering creative new courses, as well as innovative and ethically based approaches to business issues, the institute supports faculty and curriculum initiatives that reflect the Catholic mission of the university.


Faculty Development: The Ryan Institute offers a variety of faculty development seminars on the mission and identity of the Catholic university, especially as it relates to business education.


Leadership Outreach: The Ryan Institute works with business leaders to engage the practical challenges of organizational life and the spiritual and moral claims of faith. Current collaborations include: 


Seeing Things Whole Project: As a leader-based project, the institute works with the Seeing Things Whole to bridge faith and organizational life through roundtables, retreats and case studies. 


• St. Olaf’s Faith and Work Breakfast Series: This well-established series has provided acclaimed speakers to help working people in downtown Minneapolis reflect on the connection between faith and work.


Relation to the Center for Catholic Studies: The John A. Ryan Institute for Catholic Social Thought serves as a major component of the University's Center for Catholic Studies. The Center's mission is to enhance and revitalize the Catholic character and identity of the University of St Thomas in particular and to contribute to the renewal of the Catholic intellectual tradition worldwide. By promoting the study of the Catholic intellectual tradition in all its aspects - theological, educational, philosophical, social, literary, scientific, historical, and aesthetic - the Center has established itself as a leader among Catholic universities. As a result of this study, the Center also seeks to provide avenues for fruitful dialogue with other religious and philosophical traditions in order to serve the common good of the larger community. The focus of the Institute on issues related to the Catholic social tradition and its diverse expressions makes a specific contribution to this mission.


Michael Naughton 

Dr. Michael J. Naughton Director


Dr. Robert G. Kennedy Founding Director

Jeanne Buckeye picture

Dr. Jeanne Buckeye
Ryan Institute Fellow


Dr. Brian Shapiro
Ryan Institute Fellow


 Mary Kay O'Rourke Coordinator