Negotiating Identity: Catholic Higher Education Since 1960

Gallin, Alice. Negotiating Identity: Catholic Higher Education since 1960. Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 2000.

Alice Gallin explores the issue of Catholic identity in American Catholic colleges and universities using the same historical lens that she had used to study the governance of these institutions in her previous book, Independence and a New Partnership. She begins by posing the question: How is it possible that Catholic institutions of higher education assimilated the cultural changes of American society in the 1960s while still maintaining their Catholic identity? She argues that due to the various constituencies involved in this question, there is no simple answer; it is instead a complex and evolving issue demonstrated by the controversy surrounding the promulgation of Ex Corde Ecclesiae by Pope John Paul II.
<p>Gallin’s book has eight chapters. She first reviews the changes in higher education during the 1960s, paying special attention to seveal significant changes in the intellectual environment, interaction between secular society and the church, ecumenism, and views on academic freedom. Chapter 2 explores the Americanization of Catholic higher education through the influence of various funding sources, governance structures, and legal issues concerning academic freedom. Chapter 3 describes the “uncertainty and ambiguity” with which Catholic higher education moved forward through this period of time. Features new to Catholic higher education, such as new consortia affiliations as well as graduate education and research, comprise Chapter 4, while Chapter 5 explains how laity moved into the administration, governing boards and faculty of Catholic institutions. Chapter 6 asks if these colleges are still Catholic after implementing these changes and describes how the Catholic community has tried to answer this question. Chapter 7 examines the ways in which various constituencies worry about Catholic higher education, as well as the current state of affairs on Catholic campuses. Chapter 8 concludes by listing four non-negotiable propositions, as identified by journalist Margaret Steinfels, that are essential if Catholic colleges and universities are to reclaim their intellectual heritage. Those are that (1) reason and faith should not be seen as antagonistic; (2) philosophy and philosophical thinking must be taken seriously; (3) facts that come in pristine form should be challenged; and (4) reductionism should be resisted. (LT)