Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York

Letter from Dean nancy busch

Profiled in this issue of Communitas are alumni, students and faculty of Fordham University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences who are doing their part to change the world. Perhaps the theme of this newsletter is partly a subconscious response to the transition currently taking place down in Washington, D.C., but serving the world—often through radical change—remains a fundamental characteristic of the nearly 500-year-old Jesuit tradition of education.

Why does GSAS lead students to become change agents? Within the modern research university, the cultivation of knowledge acquired through research and scholarship is often the ultimate goal. However, for GSAS students, that is simply not enough: the Jesuit tradition
of education requires that we address the question, “knowledge for what purpose?” And the answer lies not just in the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake but also in the pursuit of knowledge for the sake of action. The original Jesuits rejected the monastery, and today every Jesuit institution of higher learning is, in the words of Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., “called to live in a social reality and to live for that social reality.”1 Thus, the Jesuit tradition seeks not only academic excellence,2 but also knowledge for use in the real world, knowledge for application, knowledge to change the world to make individuals more human and society more humane. When the research university focuses primarily on the creation of new knowledge, other goals—including the education of students—may become secondary.  Consistent with the Jesuit tradition, with its focus on students, GSAS strives to transpose this approach and to make the creation of knowledge the means by which the end of transforming student lives is achieved.  

Read these profiles and let me know if you think GSAS has succeeded in transforming
students into change agents!

Nancy A. Busch, Dean, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

1 Rev. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J Address to the conference on Commitment to Justice in Jesuit Higher Education, Santa Clara, 2000.
2 “It does not mean that the university should abdicate its mission of academic excellence— excellence needed to solve complex social problems.” Rev. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., ibid. 

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