Catholic Studies

Director: M. Maher, S.J.

The Catholic Studies minor at Gonzaga University provides students with an opportunity to enrich their undergraduate experience through a focused engagement with the historical and theological traditions, teachings and cultural legacies of the Catholic Church.  In addition to providing a rigorous interdisciplinary grounding in the history, ideals, and practices of Catholicism, the program invites students to take part in the ancient and ongoing conversation between the Church and the various cultures in which it is found.  In seeking to understand and more fully appreciate the relationship between the eternal truths of the Catholic faith and their various expressions in time and place, the program faithfully and rigorously responds to Pope John Paul II's call for "a fruitful dialogue between the Gospel and culture" (Ex Corde Ecclesiae, Part I A.3:34).   The Society of Jesus, in its most recent General Congregation, echoes this same desire :  its identification and commitment for serious and rigorous research between Catholicism and the contemporary world, culture and other religions.  (General Congregation 35 Doc. 1 par.7) 

The program takes as its model the Incarnation, a discrete historical event that nevertheless speaks to men and women of all times and places.  The theme of incarnation, i.e., the embodiment of God in the world, pervades the program as it searches for and celebrates the eternal truths of the Catholic faith in the variety of its concrete expressions throughout history.  Our explorations incorporate, but are not limited to, the disciplines of art history, literature, languages, history, philosophy, and theology.

Intellectual Methodology:

The Catholic Studies program identifies Catholicism as the body of thought and culture that both informs our University's mission and inhabits the world beyond Gonzaga as a phenomenon palpably present but often difficult to detect in its various modes of culture and domains of knowledge.  We operate with the idea that Catholicism, and the world it interpenetrates, can be better understood by investigating its particular and universal natures.  We do this through a series of integrated courses that consider Catholicism as both the over-arching theme of the curriculum, and the core theme of each individual course.  Accordingly, Catholic Studies will be grounded in Church doctrine since doctrine establishes the foundation for an understanding of knowledge, and offers a guide for interpreting how Catholicism has developed in the course of history and how it reveals itself in literature, science and the visual arts.  A fundamental course on Catholic doctrine (RELI 220) will provide the distinguishing parameters for concepts such as sacramentality, incarnation, sin and redemption.


Each student in the program will be assigned an advisor who will help students reach a comprehensive understanding of the program through periodic consultation and guidance on the capstone project.

Required Courses:

The program is designed so that several core courses will count towards the minor in Catholic Studies.  The following courses are required, and may also be used to fulfill courses required by the University core, a specific college core, or specific major.

The core curriculum or common body of knowledge of the College of Arts and Sciences consists of 59 to 62 credits which are common to and required of all degree programs in the College: the first 31 credits (of which there is a more complete description in the General Degree Requirements and Procedures section of this catalogue) form the University Core, while the remaining 28 to 31 credits are common to all Arts and Sciences degrees.
Students should attempt to spread the core curriculum over their entire fours years at Gonzaga.

  1. Thought and Expression (7 credits): ENGL 101, SPCO 101, and PHIL 101 (preferably in the same semester).
  2. Philosophy (9 credits): PHIL 201, PHIL 301, and  PHIL  400 level elective.
  3. Religious Studies (9 credits): RELI 100, 200, and 300 levels: one course from each level.
  4. Mathematics (3 credits): one MATH (not CPSC) course on the 100 level or above; NURS 320 is substituted for a MATH course for BSN students; MATH 203 fulfills this requirement only for students who graduate with certification in Elementary Education.
  5. English Literature (3 credits): ENGL 102 or 103H or 105 or 106.
  6. History (6 credits): HIST 101 and either HIST 102 or HIST 112 in their first year. If they are unable to complete all six 100-level HIST credits in their first year, HIST 201 or 202 may be substituted for one 100-level course after the first year.
  7. Fine Arts (3 credits): one course in either VART, MUSC, or THEA from courses approved by Dean of Arts and Sciences.
  8. Laboratory Science (4 credits): one course with laboratory in either BIOL, CHEM, or PHYS.
  9. Mathematics or Natural Science (3 credits): one course in either MATH, CPSC, BIOL, CHEM, PHYS, or ITEC.
  10. Literature (3 credits): one British or American literature course (ENGL 201 - 285).
  11. Social Science (6 credits): CRIM 101, ECON, SOCI, POLS, or PSYC: two courses from these departments.
  12. Foreign Language or Culture (3 credits): one course in any foreign language (classical or modern) or one (foreign culture) course approved by the Dean of Arts and Sciences.  Foreign-language speaking students from foreign cultures who have completed the nine English core credits at Gonzaga prior to their fourth year (last thirty credits) may petition the Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences for a waiver of the foreign language or Culture requirement..
  13. Social Justice (3 credits): One course on Social Justice issues related to experiences of difference (like race, class, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation), from courses approved by the Dean of Arts & Sciences; (may be combined with other core or major requirements).