Notre Dame’s First New School in 96 Years

Keough School aims to compete with peers, uphold Catholic mission

In the Fall 2017 semester, the University of Notre Dame will open its first new school in just under a century, the Donald R. Keough School of Global Affairs. The new school is the next phase in the university’s commitment to globalization, one of the main goals of University President Father John Jenkins, CSC. This past week, the Rover spoke with the Marilyn Keough Dean and Professor of History, R. Scott Appleby. In his words, the mission of the new global affairs school is, “to prepare Notre Dame students to approach the challenges of poverty, conflict, health care, and radical inequality within the framework of Catholic social teaching, integral human development, and sustainable development goals.

Integral human development is a phrase out of Catholic Social teaching, first developed in Pope Paul VI’s 1967 encyclical, Populorum Progressio, or “Development of Peoples.” The encyclical was issued in response to 20 years of post-World War II efforts by the Western world to develop poorer countries, specifically by facilitating economic growth. While Populorum Progressio welcomes international development efforts, it criticizes the largely secular approach to development up to that point. The approach to international development had been to implement fairly uniform economic development using technical expertise and technology. Pope Paul suggests that this narrow approach could ironically have the impact of harming the person or community one set out to help. He introduced a new approach, integral human development, which would focus on the dignity of the human person and be a more holistic, tailored approach to development. Integral human development suggests that development cannot proceed ignoring the identity of the person; it must be human centered. It suggests that feeding people is not enough; attentiveness to cultures, peoples, politics, history, and religion is necessary.

The second ‘pillar’ of the Keough school will be international goals for development. In 2015, the United Nations established 17 goals for development for which to strive in the next 15 years, known as “Sustainable Development Goals.” They include incredibly ambitious objectives such as ending hunger, achieving gender equality, and ending poverty. Pope Francis addressed the United Nations on the day that the goals were adopted to endorse them with a caveat, that they respect human dignity, i.e., respect human life from conception to natural death. Fueled by the endorsement of Pope Francis, the Keough School of Global Affairs will work to advance the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals within the framework of Catholic Social Teaching and integral human development.

When the school opens in 2017, it will consist of a master’s program in Global Affairs. The program will have roughly 40 participants, so that at any given time there will be 80 master’s students. While the school will initially be more graduate focused, even next fall there will be opportunities for undergraduates to study in the Global Affairs school and students will have the option to fulfill certain core curriculum requirements within the school. The Dean reported that beginning in 2018 the school plans to incorporate undergraduates more directly with new major and minor options for those students “interested in globalizing their undergraduate experience further.” The curricular goals of the school will be to intensify foreign language study, offer more international and field experience, teach quantitative and qualitative leadership skills and combine expertise in a variety of fields of study to offer students a multidisciplinary education.

Dean Appleby noted that there are about 20 peer universities in North America with similar schools. In order to stand out among them, Notre Dame will create a niche within global affairs, representing the Catholic perspective.

“There are eight global affairs schools that are our aspirational peers. We must do everything they do well … our added advantage is that we are Notre Dame and we will bring integral human development, ethics, and religion to the table—that’s our contribution, our niche.” According to Notre Dame’s policy, a minimum of 50 percent of faculty members must be Catholic, and Dean Appleby reports that the Keough school will be no exception. “The faculty appointments we’ve made and are planning put us above the University goal of 50 percent Catholic hiring … We plan to sustain that.”

The Keough School encompasses seven existing programs and will include two new programs, one for human development and global business, and another for global engagement with religion. Though there are concerns across campus about the introduction of a religious studies program and how it will fit into Notre Dame’s Catholic mission, Dean Appleby believes the goals of the two are not at odds. “I reject the idea that there is necessarily an irreconcilable tension between the study of religion and theology, the idea that religious studies is unavoidably agnostic or that only theology is for believers is just not accurate.”

The Dean hopes that rather than undermining Notre Dame’s Catholic mission, the institute will add new dimensions to the university’s theology offerings. “It is the case that religious studies has such a diverse array of practitioners that you would find in that group both devout believers and skeptics, and in greater numbers than in any theology department,” he remarked. “As a Catholic university we engage both the skeptic and the devout in dialogue.” Though religious studies has the reputation for being secular and skeptical of religion, Dean Appleby believes this stereotype is overplayed and that Notre Dame has an opportunity to help reverse it. He continued, “The rest of the academy can learn from Notre Dame on the ways the study of religion and theology can complement one another. This is an opportunity for us to create a strong partnership between those who study comparative religion and theology.”

Dean Appleby anticipates that Notre Dame will make a positive and unique contribution to the field of Global Affairs and to international development through the new Keough School. “We have a daunting goal, in that we aspire to add something of value that reflects Notre Dame’s mission to this conversation globally about how to build peace, ensure human rights, and work with the poor to eradicate poverty”

Keenan is a sophomore political science and history major with a minor in constitutional studies. She is notably named after Keenan Hall. Contact Keenan at Keenan.M.White.294@nd.edu.

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  • Guy Garofano

    Very interesting. One can only hope that the assurances about the School not contradicting ND’s Catholic identity will be lived up to…

    • NDaniels

      “As a Catholic university we engage both the skeptic and the devout in dialogue.”

      Notre Dame’s Catholic Identity is certainly not affirmed by dialogue between both the skeptic and the devout, but rather by being not afraid to witness to The Deposit of Faith, while recognizing that to the devout Truth Is, while to the skeptic, Truth is merely a matter of one’s opinion.

      The Deposit of Faith, is, in essence, that value that is necessary to reflect “Notre Dame’s mission to this conversation globally about how to build peace, ensure human rights, and work with the poor to eradicate poverty”.