The Frances G. Harpst Center for Catholic Thought and Culture brings the University of San Diego’s Catholic identity to life. Through its programs and events, the center gives USD and the surrounding community resources to experience the intellectual, social, cultural and spiritual traditions of the Catholic Church.
The Center, which was established in 2008 and endowed in 2010, ensures that the rich traditions of the Catholic faith endure - and that the intellectual heritage of the faith is woven into curricula, campus life and the student experience. The Center seeks to facilitate discussions among all academic disciplines about the theological, historical, intellectual and cultural perspectives of Catholicism.
The University of San Diego believes that faith and reason are compatible in education, and that true knowledge should be discerned from a breadth of sources. Curiosity, free inquiry, discovery and debate have become the four corners of wisdom. This idea was rooted in the first universities, founded in medieval Europe by Roman Catholic scholars. The tradition has continued for centuries.
Today, the Harpst Center for Catholic Thought and Culture keeps the tradition alive. The Center hosts several lecture series, conferences, workshops and educational initiatives. Each December, the Center invites the campus and surrounding community to gather in Founders Chapel for “Lessons and Carols,” a centuries-old Christmas celebration that combines poignant readings from the Old and New Testaments with music to celebrate the Christmas story and birth of Jesus. The Center also hosts a Faculty Immersion Seminar to bring together small groups of faculty from various disciplines to travel abroad to learn about the Catholic Church’s traditions and contributions to society. These seminars are conducted each year by specially selected, leading Catholic experts and offer opportunities for a group of faculty from varied disciplines, backgrounds and schools to be exposed to different ideas, methods and cultures. Faculty members who participate in the seminars then hold public forums to present what they’ve learned and how it has influenced their work.
New and developing initiatives include: a workshop in Catholic Social Thought; the Good Samaritan Initiative; an American Catholicism series; the Art of Faith program; a Catholic Literature Series; an annual Catholicity lecture; public theology programs; a religion and law series; ecumenical (inter-church) programs; inter-faith dialogue and understanding programs; contemporary ecclesiology programs; healthcare ethics programs; business ethics programs; scholarships and fellowships for USD or external faculty; and the annual Madrigal Christmas Dinner.
We welcome all gifts, small or large, to support ongoing development of the future, as well as exciting new programs and initiatives.