Notre Dame - a Catholic University

How does Notre Dame define itself as a Catholic University?

  • Through our Objects as set out in The University of Notre Dame Australia Act,1989.
  • Through its canonical statute and diocesan agreements.
  • Through its governance structures, and especially through the role of its Trustees.
  • Through its Statutes and Rules.
  • Through particular activities and programs directly supporting of the role and work of the Church and its agencies.
  • Through its role as a centre for Christian intellectual life.
  • Through its international Catholic university relationships, especially with the University of Notre Dame in the United States.
  • Through its physical facilities and images.
  • Through its 'private' status.

Key strategies and practical steps to achieve our Objects as a Catholic University.

  1. Having Schools of Philosophy and Theology which are central to the University's academic mission, offering a compulsory core curriculum for all students, comprising units in philosophy, theology and ethics; being leading catalysts in developing and maintaining the University as a centre for Christian intellectual life.
  2. Recruiting 'for mission': selecting students and staff to build a Christian community which supports the Objects of the University.
  3. Providing an academic development program in theology to be available to all staff, and encouraging lecturers to integrate discussion on ethical and faith issues into the curriculum in all Schools of the University.
  4. Supporting social justice education: through encouraging a spirit of voluntarism, through special curriculum options, 'service-learning' programs and 'service' internships, with a special focus on advancing Aboriginal people.
  5. Encouraging a sense of community within the University by actively supporting the Student Association and student clubs; promoting student involvement in sport, recreation, cultural activities and social life; encouraging social interaction and team building among staff.
  6. Investing in an active campus ministry, and special religious initiatives in each School, underpinning and promoting spiritual and liturgical life on and off campus for staff and students.
  7. Emphasising pastoral care as central to university life and, in so doing, facilitating a university culture which recognises and values highly every student and staff member.
  8. Being openly and unequivocally Catholic. Welcoming people of all faiths (and none at all) into the Notre Dame community; being clear about and proclaiming Notre Dame's Christian faith underpinnings, and its integral membership of the Catholic Church.
  9. Providing excellent standards of teaching, scholarship, research and professional training, and understanding that such excellence is fundamental to the very idea of a Catholic university.
  10. Adopting policies which maximize graduation rates and the successful entry of alumni into their vocation or profession of choice.

The Core Curriculum

From the commencement of undergraduate teaching at the University in 1994, the Trustees of the University established that, as a matter of on-going policy, all students would be required to enroll in a 'core curriculum' comprising three specifically designed units in Theology, Philosophy and Ethics.

These core units have several functions:

  • They help to create and sustain the 'context of Catholic faith and values' which is central to the Objects of the University as defined in its enabling Act of Parliament.
  • They provide a liberal education base for the wide range of professional courses undertaken by most undergraduate students prior to entry to their chosen vocation.
  • They encourage a 'coming together' of students from many religious traditions (and none at all) and provide a setting in which important social and moral issues can be freely discussed and debated.
  • They complement the 'service learning' and social justice education units which many students undertake as part of their courses.

The Core Curriculum is a distinguishing characteristic of a Notre Dame undergraduate education. The University gives priority to ensuring that these units are excellent in curriculum design, teaching quality, and classroom experience.

TH101 introduces students to the study of theology as an academic discipline via a structured and principled inquiry into the foundations of the Christian faith, its meaning and fundamental coherence and implications for the life of the world.

In PH100 we study some of the central themes of philosophy - the nature of the good life, the nature of knowledge, the nature of being human and the world and universe we inhabit - by examining a range of influential thinkers in the western philosophical tradition from the ancient world to the twenty-first century.

In the moral traditions of both East and West, Ethics is concerned with three interrelated themes: what we value as 'Good' or 'Bad'; what we regard as 'virtuous' or 'vicious' behaviour, or character; and what we define by rule as 'Right' or 'Wrong' to protect ourselves and society from harm and promote the health and well-being of the community.