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Theology Professor Participating in National 'Roundtable' on Catholic Higher Education

1Hagstrom.jpgDr. Aurelie A. Hagstrom, associate professor of theology, is one of just 14 scholars from across the country participating in an initiative focused on the mission of Catholic higher education in the United States.

The Boston College Roundtable: Advancing the Mission of Catholic Higher Education is bringing together scholars from Catholic colleges and universities to explore the value and meaning of a modern Catholic education. The goal of the conference is to further the conversation about mission — as it relates to the pursuit of truth, the quest for knowledge, and the fostering of human flourishing. 

A frequent contributor to academic journals and the author of The Emerging Laity: Vocation, Mission, and Spirituality (Paulist Press, 2010), Hagstrom was invited to participate in the roundtable by Fr. Jack Butler, S.J., BC’s vice president for the Division of Mission and Ministry.

“I accepted their invitation because I am passionate about the conversation relating to mission at Catholic colleges and the ongoing implementation of Ex Corde Ecclesia — the papal document on Catholic colleges and universities,” Hagstrom said.

The two-year, interdisciplinary project includes four roundtable sessions that are structured around themes such as “Science and the Person” and “The Transcendent Value of the Liberal Arts.” Presenters offer their understanding of the theme through the perspective of their own disciplines and the Catholic intellectual tradition. They then discuss its implications for the broader mission of Catholic higher-education institutions.

The first session, which was held in April, focused on “The Role of Charism and Hospitality in Catholic Colleges and Universities,” which was a theme crafted by Hagstrom — specifically for the roundtable. At the initial meeting, Hagstrom presented the keynote paper entitled “The Role of Charism and Hospitality in the Academy.”

Her paper introduced the biblical theology of hospitality as a theological framework to help the participants think about important questions of mission integration.

“For example, if the sponsoring religious community at a school is the ‘host,’ how can non-Catholics at Catholic schools be welcomed as ‘guests’ with their own religious identities being respected and welcomed?  How can the narrative of the ‘host’ be told across the campus in areas like the mission statement, curriculum, faculty hiring policies, student life policies, etc.?” Hagstrom explained.

At the end of the two-year session, each paper that is presented will be published in a scholarly journal and eventually in a book.

“Our conversations, scholarly work, and papers will become a resource for the more than 200 Catholic colleges and universities across the nation as they try to implement best practices for mission integration on their campuses,” Hagstrom said.

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