claritas initiative logo with a statue

The Claritas Initiative

Everything that exists has beauty, goodness, and truth

Beauty, goodness, and truth are described in Catholic intellectual tradition as "transcendentals," or properties of reality at its very roots. According to this way of thinking, beauty, goodness, and truth "transcend" particular things, and they pertain to everything that exists.

President Rob Vischer spoke about these values during his inaugural address when he announced a new initiative to invite all St. Thomas community members to "experience the many ways in which truth, beauty, and goodness are lived out each day across our campus."

In Fall 2023, the university introduced the Claritas Initiative, a series of discussions, performances, and experiences designed to help community members explore ways that all of us in our unique roles can nurture these values as we create an educational experience that helps students find more than their careers – but find their true vocations in life. The initiative's emphasis on beauty, goodness, and truth stands to reframe the education of students at St. Thomas and the research conducted by its faculty.

claritas logo

Upcoming Events

Please join us to explore and experience the many ways in which truth, beauty, and goodness are lived out each day across our campus.

April 2024

Faculty and Staff Reading Group

LIB 108 (St. Paul) - April 4th, noon to 1pm
TMH 255 (Minneapolis) - April 17th, noon to 1pm

Join us for readings that will facilitate engagement with beauty, goodness, and truth as they have been treated by noteworthy figures throughout the tradition. Continued from fall.

April 2024

Agar Art Workshops: Connecting the Visible & Invisible Worlds of Art & Microbiology

TMH 337: April 3rd, 3:15 to 4:45pm

SCC 404:
April 16th, 3:30 to 5pm
or 7 to 8:30pm
April 25th, 3:30 to 5pm
or 7 to 8:30pm

Create living art using pigmented bacteria as your palette and petri plates as your canvas! Hosted by the Departments of Art History and Biology.

Contact Dr. Joanna Klein at joanna.klein@stthomas.edu for more information.

April 23, 2024

On Care for our Common Home: Community Art Project Celebration

LIB 104 - April 23rd, 4:00 to 5:00pm

The St. Thomas community is invited to this special talk and reception with Sustainability Artist-in-Residence Jessica Turtle. We'll hear about Jessica's work and process for creating the Community Art Project murals on the Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses and learn more about this collaborative project that encourages us all to explore, observe, and encounter the natural environment on and nearby campus - to see it with new eyes and experience its beauty in new ways.

May 15, 2024

Sound Bath Meditation

ASC Woulfe Hall - May 15th, 6:00 to 7:00pm

The Claritas Initiative and the Center for Well-Being co-host this immersive experience that 'bathes' you in the beauty of sound. Waves of soft tones, shifting textures, and gentle rhythms connect you to sound and create a sense of peace, well-being, and connectedness to the world.

Wear comfortable clothes and bring a yoga mat and/or a blanket. During the sound bath, you can sit or lie down.

Marc Anderson calls on his extensive background as a musician and meditation teahcer to create powerful sessions that restore, relax, and transform.

Past Events

Find summaries, photos, and resources from past events of the Claritas Initiative.

March 2024

Embodied: The Earthly Immortal Soul and the Battle of Becoming

December 2023

Winter Concert: Luminous Night of the Soul

December 2023

Sites that Inspire: Light in the Darkness

September 2023

On Beauty: The "Forgotten" Transcendental

Why Truth, Beauty and Goodness?

Encountering Truth

As a university community, we understand the value of truth. In fact, pursuing truth is one of our convictions: "We value intellectual inquiry as a lifelong habit, the unfettered and impartial pursuit of truth in all its forms, the integration of knowledge across disciplines, and the imaginative and creative exploration of new ideas." The truths of our many disciplines provide us an understanding of the world, and truth-seeking pushes us to new heights of discovery.

Encountering Goodness

At St. Thomas, we also understand the value of goodness. Our university's mission is rooted in advancing the common good, and every day across campus, our faculty and staff engage in work aimed at helping our students discern their unique vocations so they can use their gifts to meet the world's needs. We understand that goodness can only be enacted relationally as we cultivate the "culture of encounter" of which Pope Francis speaks, according to which every single person is seen, known, and loved.

Encountering Beauty

And what of beauty? This transcendental is equally important, although, of late, it hasn't gotten the attention it deserves. We are surrounded by beauty every day on our campuses – physical beauty, of course; but also beautiful ideas, beautiful discoveries, beautiful ways of being in relationship with one another. Beauty is constantly at work in our lives, and many of the most meaningful moments we've experienced are also beautiful moments.

The connections ~ beauty, goodness, and truth

These three values are important on their own, but they're also intimately connected; they belong together, and reflecting on one can help bring the others into focus.

  • Think about a student who encounters the idea of the common good for the first time. Initially daunted by the hard truth that the flourishing of some cannot come at the expense of others, that student is stirred to action by a vision of the beauty of equitable relationships with one's neighbors.
  • Think about a science classroom directed toward not only the discovery of truth, but also attentive to the beauty of the phenomena that are examined and the need to use scientific knowledge for the good of all members of our society and our world.
  • Think about the coaches who work with our student athletes. They help athletes understand truths – data and strategy and statistics – about their sports. But they also help our athletes experience beauty: the beauty of determination, concentration, and willpower; the beauty of teams working together to do something individuals can't accomplish on their own; and the beauty of winning with humility and losing with grace. All of this helps our student athletes discern their calling and their purpose.
  • Think about a student in an art history class who learns how to perceive detail at a new level. Now noticing previously unseen things, the student applies this new ability to different arenas, including the nearly invisible intricacies of the natural environment (better exploring truth) and the almost invisible pain of a neighbor (better pursuing goodness).
  • Think about first-year students in a residence hall who meet a hallmate who is homesick and lonely. They seek advice from Residence Life staff, from their psychology professor, and from a campus minister to build knowledge and understanding about how their hallmate is feeling. They work together to support their hallmate, helping make St. Thomas feel as much a home as the one their hallmate left behind. By the end of the semester, those hallmates have formed a beautiful friendship that lasts far beyond their St. Thomas days, and one of those students has been inspired by their experience to pursue a graduate degree in Counseling Psychology.
  • Think about an academic experience in which a student perceives thorough connections among courses in English literature, mechanical engineering, and ethics, thus gaining a sense of the ways in which all human knowledge coheres to form a united, multifaceted whole that is beautiful, good, and true.

Programs of the Claritas Initiative are made possible through financial support from the GHR Foundation.