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Explore the SVC Core

Saint Vincent College Core Curriculum

Cultivating the Virtues of Catholic, Benedictine, and Liberal Education at Saint Vincent College 

The Saint Vincent College mission statement proclaims that our aim is to educate “men and women to enable them to integrate their professional aims with the broader purposes of human life.” This is a bold statement. It is at once a recognition of the necessity of worldly employment and a refusal to concede that such employment or its financial rewards constitute the broader purposes of human life.

Our vision insists that every person deserves the opportunity to be more than a link in the chain of production while recognizing the necessity and dignity of productive work. Negotiating the balance of this ideal cannot be the task of a four-year education. All we can hope to do is prepare you for this extended negotiation—a lifelong task of understanding and fulfilling the broader purposes of their lives.

To help you in this quest, the Saint Vincent Core Curriculum intends to introduce you to the ways that the Catholic Benedictine tradition speaks about the divine, to inform you on history, politics, and culture, to equip you to reason about the range of disciplines that help us understand ourselves and our world, to help you articulate your ideas, to guide you as you seek the good, and to encourage you to reflect on how your gifts support and enhance the world around you.  In short, our Core will help you discern your vocation, which is ultimately a calling from God.

The Saint Vincent Core Curriculum follows Saint John Henry Newman in The Idea of a University, in which he argues that Catholic universities believe in the ultimate unity of knowledge. This belief does not mean students are told what to do or how to do it.  This would compromise the pursuit of true knowledge and so damage the Catholic commitment to truth. Instead, Catholic education is to help students understand themselves and their relationship to their friends, neighbors, creation, and the Divine. This integrative approach is found throughout the Core, in which students learn a breadth of academic disciplines at the introductory and reinforcement levels, relationships between disciplines in each of the integrative seminars, and, by the time they complete the SVC Core Curriculum, ways in which the disciplines point to the unity of knowledge and require charitable action. 


Students in the Saint Vincent Core Curriculum will read many of the same books, particularly in their seminars. You can expect to encounter:

The Book of Exodus from the Old Testament

The Allegory of the Cave from Plato’s Republic

Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics

One of the Gospels

Saint Augustine’s Confessions

The Rule of Saint Benedict

Parts of Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae

Francis Bacon’s The New Atlantis

G.K. Chesterton’s “The Blue Cross”

Willa Cather’s “Two Friends”

Dorothy Sayers’s “The Lost Tools of Learning”

Saint John Paul II’s Fides et Ratio

And much more!              

Core Student Learning

The Core Curriculum is structured around tiers of courses that spiral through the Core SLOs to move the student from introductory material in their first year to mastery experiences in their Capstone Seminar. Because the student learning consistent with the Catholic, Benedictine, and liberal arts traditions is the measure of our success, we articulate our six Core Student Learning Outcomes as follows:

(SLO1) Students will critically articulate the theological foundations of the Catholic Benedictine tradition.

(SLO2) Students will demonstrate an informed understanding of their historical, cultural, and political location within a global context.

(SLO3) Students will practice methods appropriate to the arts and sciences to question, investigate, and reason.

(SLO4) Students will develop an integrated perspective on liberal education and its relationship to their disciplinary concentration.

(SLO5) Students will express themselves effectively and charitably as artists, speakers, and writers.

(SLO6) Students will rationally defend ethical commitments for the service of self, neighbors, and creation.

Course Work

Tier One: Introduction (24-25 Credits) 

Listening Seminar (3 credits) – SLO4 

Theological Foundations (3 credits) – SLO1 

History, Culture, Politics (6 credits) – SLO2

Investigating and Reasoning (3/4 credits) – SLO3

Effective and Charitable Expression (6 credits) - SLO5 - This includes the required Core Writing Course

Ethics and Service (3 credits) – SLO6

Tier Two: Reinforcement (18-20 Credits)

Learning Seminar  (3 credits) 

Theological Foundations (3 credits) – SLO1 

History, Culture, Politics (3 credits) – SLO2

Investigating and Reasoning (3 credits/4 credits) – SLO3

Effective and Charitable Expression (3 credits) – SLO5

Ethics and Service (3 credits) – SLO6

Tier Three: Mastery (3 Credits)

Capstone Seminar  (3 credits) 

Optional Liberal Arts Scholar Program 

Saint Vincent students may earn the designation “Scholar of the Liberal Arts” by successfully completing all core requirements as outlined above, completing at least one elective in each of the following disciplines: theology, philosophy, history, politics, literature, and math or natural science, and demonstrating proficiency in a foreign language at the intermediate level as determined by foreign language faculty. Students are encouraged to use these courses in pursuit of interdisciplinary minors.

Contact Information

For more information about the Saint Vincent Core Curriculum, please contact:

Jerome C. Foss, PhD
Professor of Political Science
Director of Core