Loyola University Chicago

Transformative Education

What Are the Various Channels for Internal and External Transformation within the University?

Our CORE Curriculum: Within the perspective of an education that empowers and transforms, the CORE occupies a privileged place, providing the breadth of learning that is foundational for an undergraduate education in the Jesuit tradition. The CORE is a primary means whereby the major goals of our pedagogy are obtained. The aforementioned strategic themes and the student's deepest desires must be addressed by the CORE curriculum.

If truly successful, the CORE should result in a radical transformation not only of the way a student sees him or herself but also in the way the student habitually perceives, thinks, and acts in the world. In order to accomplish this, the CORE must be more than a set of distribution requirements; it must be an integrated curriculum designed to produce ever deepening reflection and new habits of heart, mind and will. It should enable students to integrate faith with intellectual and cultural life. The CORE experience needs to be something consistently describable by all students rather than merely dependent on teachers, syllabi, etc.

The Majors: In the major, the student learns to explore, understand, imagine, and create within a particular context or field of study, developing the habits, disciplines, and skills that are needed for that area of human endeavor. In the major, training in a particular intellectual discipline or practice is paramount. But the transformative concern which is at the forefront in the CORE is still present in the major, but now woven into that discipline. To assist with this, Loyola provides a variety of means: internships, service-learning, capstone courses, etc. These forms of experiential learning are properly organized from within each field or discipline in order to provide the appropriate degree of specificity; they are more likely to have a lasting impact to the extent that they are discipline-specific.

Graduate Education

Graduate and professional education are geared towards inculcating the mastery of specialized knowledge and skills through which a student who has already identified his or her vocation can attain the professional competence, leadership skills and sense of responsibility that are needed to make a significant impact in the world. While Jesuit universities began as undergraduate institutions, they later applied the spirit and methods of transformative education to graduate and professional education. Our graduate and professional schools are very discipline-specific, but they embody and employ the same Jesuit pedagogy, which is person-centered and society-centered, and which empowers and transforms. Students at this level are encouraged to refine and test their calling, and to reflect continually on the questions "for whom" and "for what" as they prepare for their careers. In their major projects or research, they are encouraged to ask: How will this work contribute to or impact the communities that it serves? How might it contribute to society and to the struggle for peace and justice?

Research

Loyola is committed to the personal transformation of its students and faculty as well as to the creation of a just social order. But real and lasting change is not achieved by direct action alone. Many of the problems facing our world will never be adequately addressed if we merely replicate former solutions. It is important that we caution our students, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, about the excessive pragmatism that can often permeate the American culture. Our world needs longer-term solutions, not just quick fixes, and this requires careful, scholarly research. Research needs to be evaluated not with the short term lens of immediate efficacy but within a larger and more generous horizon that both enriches and transforms our lives as human beings and communities. Therefore, Loyola fosters the kind of research that really matters for making our world a home for all.

Furthermore, research at Loyola is informed by a characteristically Catholic confidence in the unity of truth; that is, the conviction that truths of reason are ultimately compatible with truths of faith. For this reason, intellectual inquiry at Loyola is animated not by a fear of error but by a love of truth and with a deep commitment to academic freedom.

At the same time, research at Loyola is informed by an on-going engagement with a living Catholic intellectual tradition that serves as a touchstone or point of reference. The point is not that researchers at Loyola need to be working on a topic that is identifiably Catholic, nor is the point that people doing research are under the obligation to agree with every element of that tradition. But faculty researchers should be willing and able to articulate how their work elaborates upon the Catholic tradition and how it contributes to the common good.

Increasingly evident to scholars and others today is the necessity of cross-disciplinary inquiry in the discovery of truth. Our institutes and Centers of Excellence offer a privileged place for interdisciplinary research, a space where faculty and students from different departments or schools can converge and collaborate. They represent the best in Jesuit education and provide an effective vehicle for the University, by means of its research, to play an active role in deepening our grasp of specific problems and in imagining alternatives.

Campus Culture

A significant portion of our transformative agenda is transmitted through the explicit curriculum, but much of a student's experience happens outside of the classroom. Certain units of the University, from Student Affairs to Mission and Ministry, concentrate precisely on the quality of life outside the classroom and on building a vibrant community on campus. This community is formed through clubs, athletics, service opportunities, retreats and often simply by taking advantage of our wonderful city together.

With the valuable help of faculty, staff, chaplains, and residence hall assistants, a community of shared preoccupations and aspirations is formed. Such a community is essential to transformative education because, in the end, there is very little that an individual can do alone. We need to learn to form friendships and to build alternative networks of belonging that are oriented toward the transformations we all desire. Therefore, on Loyola's campus, we strive to create a culture where students do not feel like isolated individuals but rather members of a community that encourages respectful discourse and debate, that celebrates hard work and accomplishments, and that promotes social justice and responsible freedom.

As a Jesuit and Catholic university, Loyola firmly believes that God's grace is at work in each of the major religious traditions, which is why we are pleased to serve as a home for all of the faiths. One of the many beautiful features of Loyola is that it is a place where a committed community can be formed among people from different religious and ethnic backgrounds. This is precisely the kind of community our world needs today: a community that can look beyond the specifics of its own tradition in order to learn, study, celebrate, and pray with all people of good will who are ready to rebuild and renew our world together.

In order to sustain this transformative community, Loyola will continue to create spaces on campus for purposeful living and learning. All buildings, including residence halls, classrooms, and student centers, as well as outdoor campus spaces, will be welcoming and conducive to study and collaborative learning, with a measure of a deep respect and care for the environment.