The academic life is founded upon the principle expressed by St.Thomas Aquinas that “the vision of the teacher is the beginning of teaching,” that is, that the source or principle of the transmission of knowledge and wisdom is the teacher’s own contemplative life. The College takes its motto, Veritatis Splendor — from the ideal of a common pursuit of Truth. As Truth—human and divine—is a common good, it is the common end of the whole community, faculty and students. There is, therefore, one core curriculum which forms the environment for all specialised study. Since Truth is attained through reflection upon our experience of the world and deepened and refined through conversation with our ancestors, our program of studies encourages students and faculty alike to refine the experience of their senses, to hone and train the powers of their minds, and to follow attentively the development of human culture by the reading of great works from Classical and Christian civilisation. Our ideal is simple: to sit at the banquet table of the wise, together with Sophocles and Cicero, Augustine and Dante, Shakespeare and Eliot. And since divine wisdom is gained by reflection upon the Word of God, as transmitted and interpreted by the Fathers and Doctors of the Church and the living Magisterium, our common academic life culminates in the reading of Holy Scripture and reflection upon the great works of Catholic theology.
How are classes taught?
Throughout the program of studies, the College’s faculty shares its learning and guides our students down the little streams that lead to the vast ocean of wisdom. The College has no prescribed method of teaching, for teaching is an art, and not every artisan uses the same methods to make his masterpiece. Yet we do privilege the great texts of the Classical and Christian intellectual tradition and insist that these texts speak as living voices in the classroom. And mindful that the teacher’s task is like that of the doctor who aids the body’s own motion toward health, rather than the sculptor who imposes his idea upon the clay, we seek always to make the student’s progress toward truth our immediate goal in the classroom and beyond. What follows from this principle is a confirmed emphasis upon small classes in which great texts are discussed conversationally. From classes such as these, deep reading and spirited conversation spread to the tables in coffee houses and our cafeteria, and to the halls and common spaces of Rome; and that is our campus, enlivening it with a radiant gaudium de veritate. We will strive to strike a balance between the class room and the cut and thrust of student life.