Academic Course Catalogs

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Catholic Studies

Program Coordinators

John Donnelly, PhD, Philosophy
Joseph McGowan, PhD, English

The Catholic Studies Minor

In the past few years, a new development in the history of American Catholic higher education has been taking place: the formation of programs in Catholic studies. USD has inaugurated a minor in Catholic studies that will explore the texts, traditions, themes, and teachings of the Catholic Church from its inception to its contemporary expression. This interdisciplinary program will enable both students and faculty to study the Catholic tradition, its ethos, identity, and mission, as made tangible in history, philosophy, literature, theology, the fine arts, the social and behavioral sciences, and the natural sciences. We invite students to consider minoring in Catholic studies as a focus for serious conversations about how Catholicism unfolds in the world in its many multicultural, multinational contexts, and how that intellectual and institutional culture has an impact upon human experience.

The Catholic studies minor is an 18 unit program (at least 9 units of which must be fulfilled by upper division courses) that includes the following requirements:

1.    CATH 133 – Introduction to Catholic Studies

2.    CATH 394 – Topics in Contemporary Catholic Culture and Thought (a practicum in community service will be integrated into this capstone course)

3.    a 3 unit course in literature

4.    a 3 unit course in philosophy

5.    a 3 unit course in Theology and Religious Studies (THRS 114 – Introduction to Catholic Theology will ordinarily, unless varied, be taken by students as one of their core curriculum requirements in theology and religious studies)

6.    a 3 unit course selected from one of the following areas: history, art/music, or science/social science.

Catholic Studies Courses (CATH)


This course will focus on the central periods in the history of Roman Catholicism from the early Christian period through the 20th century. An exploration of traditions, themes, teachings, and texts of selected periods in order to establish the sociocultural, political, philosophical, and theological context of the development of Catholic ethos and identity. Ordinarily, the course will be team-taught and interdisciplinary, emphasizing both the diversity and constancy of the Roman Catholic tradition and experience.


A capstone course that will study the role of the church in the world after the Second Vatican Council. It will ordinarily be team-taught and interdisciplinary, focusing on such possible topics and issues as ecumenism, women in the church, social justice, ecology, liberation theology, ethnicity, the relationship between science and religion, psychology and religious experience, the arts and ritual reform, etc. A required experiential component will be determined by contract.

Interdisciplinary Courses

Courses in this edition of the Undergraduate Catalog that count toward the Catholic studies minor are listed below. Other courses that will count toward the minor will be offered on a semester-by-semester basis. Students should select their courses in consultation with one of the program coordinators. Please see the full course description under the appropriate departmental listings.

ENGL 224

ENGL 310
ENGL 312
ENGL 314
ENGL 328
HIST 321
HIST 322
HIST 331
HIST 346
HIST 363
HIST 384
MUSC 494
PHIL 271
PHIL 335
PHIL 412
PHIL 471
PHIL 490
PHIL 494
SPAN 360
THRS 335
THRS 341
THRS 342
THRS 343
THRS 353
THRS 354
THRS 356
THRS 358
THRS 364
THRS 368
THRS 494

Studies in Literary Traditions: The Irish Tradition (3)
Dante (3)
Studies in Medieval Literature (3)
Chaucer (3)
Milton (3)
The Fall of the Roman Empire, 250-1050 (3)
Castles and Crusades: Medieval Europe, 1050-1450 (3)
Renaissance Europe (3)
Topics in Medieval and Early Modern
Europe (3)
History of Brazil (3)
History of Mexico (3)
Special Topics in Music: History of Sacred Music (3)
History of Medieval Philosophy (3)
Death and Dying (3)
Philosophy of God (3)
Studies in Medieval Philosophy (3)
Philosophy of Love (3)
Contemporary Philosophical Problems (3)
Survey of Latin American Literature (3)
Catholic Social Thought (3)
Christian Worship (3)
Christian Sacramental Practice (3)
Christian Marriage (3)
Early Christianity (3)
The Medieval Church (3)
Catholicism in the United States (3)
Latino/a Catholicism (3)
Theology of the Church (3)
Latino/a Theologies (3)
Topics in Theology and Religious Studies: Liberation Theologies (3)