Humanism as an Educational Ideal

Feb 6, 2021
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John O'Malley, SJGeorgetown University

The ideal of educating the total human person – the project that took on the name “humanism” -  became a widespread norm for education in the Christian world of early modern Europe, whence it spread to North and South America. This humanist ideal has competed for influence with other educational ideals, most especially with those pursued by universities. Fr. John O’Malley examines the sources of the humanistic style of learning, the place of that style in Catholic culture, and, more broadly, in the world in which we live.  He examines the courses of study that came to characterize it, how humanism has developed and adapted over time, and what may be its prospects in the future.

This event is co-presented with the Harvard Catholic Forum, and co-sponsored by the Saint Benedict Institute, the Collegium Institute, the Nova Forum, the Institute for Faith and Culture, the St. Paul's Catholic University Center, and the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry.

John W. O’Malley, S.J. is University Professor Emeritus of Theology at Georgetown University. A member of the Midwest Jesuit Province, he received his PhD in History from Harvard University in 1965. He has received many academic honors, including twenty honorary degrees, eight best-book prizes, and in 2016 the Centennial Medal from the Graduate School of Harvard University, “the school’s highest honor.”  From 1979 until 2006, John O’Malley was Distinguished Professor of Church History at the Weston Jesuit School of Theology and since then has been at Georgetown University.  In 1995, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Science and in 1997 to the American Philosophical Society. His best-known book is The First Jesuits, Harvard University Press, 1993, now in twelve languages. His most recent books with Harvard Press are: What Happened at Vatican II, 2008; Trent: What Happened at the Council, 2013; Vatican I: The Council and the Making of the Ultramontane Church, 2018; and When Bishops Meet: An Essay Comparing Trent, Vatican I, and Vatican II, 2019.