Newman Studies

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To learn more or if you have questions about the program contact Kelly McFall.

The idea behind the program



In the Fall of 2011, Newman University rolled out a new vision for the university core curriculum: the Newman Studies Program. In designing this program, we wanted to create an innovative, excellent, and unique educational opportunity that would set Newman's graduates apart from all other students. And we are very proud of the result. Three years in the making, the Newman Studies Program combines an innovative approach to general education with the best insights of the liberal-arts tradition. The insights we used to design the Newman Studies Program came from many places. But the greatest insights of all came from our university's namesake, Cardinal John Henry Newman, whose classic book The Idea of a University has become a starting point for liberal education throughout the world. As the only university in the United States named for Cardinal Newman, we have always felt a responsibility to put into practice his educational goals and ideas. With the Newman Studies Program, we feel that we have done just that.

The Newman Studies Program is based on four educational principles—four pillars, drawn from The Idea of a University that support the core curriculum:
  • Active Learning
  • Critical Thinking
  • Interdisciplinarity
  • Connectivity

Newman called an education based on these principles "enlargement." Today's business leaders are calling it "essential." A recent survey of 500 elite business decision-makers revealed deep concerns about the preparation of America's college graduates.* Most business leaders described recent grads as "book smart" and "technically astute," but felt that they had "very little understanding of how to actually work within a business or how to apply their knowledge in an entry level setting." By a large margin, the three skills that these leaders valued most were 1) problem solving, 2) collaboration, and 3) critical thinking. We think that these business leaders will like what we have done with the Newman Studies Program. We hope that you will too. Michael Austin *"University Grads Don't Make the Grade" A Woods/Bagot Educational Futures report.

The Idea of General Education

"A University is … an Alma Mater, knowing her children one by one, not a foundry, or a mint, or a treadmill." "I will tell you, Gentlemen, what has been the practical error of the last twenty years. . . . It has been the error of distracting and enfeebling the mind by an unmannerly profusion of subjects; of implying that a smattering in a dozen branches of study is not shallowness, which it really is, but enlargement, which it is not" "In default of a recognized term, I have called the perfection or virtue of the intellect by the name of philosophy, philosophical knowledge, enlargement of mind, or illumination; terms which are not uncommonly given to it by writers of this day: but, whatever name we bestow on it, it is, I believe, as a matter of history, the business of a University to make this intellectual culture its direct scope, or to employ itself in the education of the intellect,—just as the work of a Hospital lies in healing the sick or wounded." "A great memory . . . does not make a philosopher, any more than a dictionary can be called a grammar. There are men who embrace in their minds a vast multitude of ideas, but with little sensibility about their real relations towards each other. . . . If they are nothing more than well-read men, or men of information, they have not what specially deserves the name of culture of mind, or fulfills the type of Liberal Education" —All quotations are from The Idea of a University

Active Learning

Learning happens everywhere, not just in the classroom. At Newman University, we understand this, and, in our Newman Studies Program, we have made innovative active learning strategies a key to our student's success. Students experience history through sophisticated role-playing games that make them a part of historical events. They learn about wetlands ecology at Newman's Wetlands Restoration Project in Northeast Sedgwick County. And all students learn through service throughout their time in the Newman Studies Program. With a curriculum full of labs, practicums, co-ops, internships, service-learning courses, and field experiences, the Newman Studies Program provides students with great learning experiences that matter.

Blessed John Henry Newman

The Idea of a University

"Enlargement consists, not merely in the passive reception into the mind of a number of ideas hitherto unknown to it, but in the mind's energetic and simultaneous action upon and towards and among those new ideas, which are rushing in upon it. It is the action of a formative power."

Critical Thinking

All of the courses in the Newman Studies Program have been designed to produce critical thinkers—students who analyze evidence, question assumptions, test hypotheses, generalize from observations, and draw conclusions from data. These are not just skills; they are habits of mind—habits that are in greater demand by employers than any single major or course of study. According to the best Modern research, students acquire critical thinking habits best when they are challenged by substantial readings and frequent writing assignments. We believe so to and have built writing into every Newman Studies course.


Meaningful understanding does not come in neat disciplinary packages and neither should general education. Throughout the Newman Studies Program, students have opportunities to learn in interdisciplinary contexts. This begins with the first-year courses, many of which are taught in "learning communities," course clusters in which two or three professors from different areas team up to create compelling interdisciplinary learning communities. And the capstone of the Newman Studies program is a four-course sequence that introduces students to big ideas: The Human Story, The Creative Spirit, The Quest for Meaning, and The Universe We Live In. Each of these courses is team-taught by faculty members from across the university who bring their unique perspectives to bear on some of the most important questions of all time.


The ultimate goal of the Newman Studies Program is to empower students to make connections—connections between each other, connections between different fields of knowledge, connections between faith and reason, and connections between themselves and the world that we expect them to transform. The courses, the faculty, the community, and the spirit of Newman University all combine to foster these connections and help students do well by doing good.

Blessed John Henry Newman

The Idea of a University

"That only is true enlargement of mind which is the power of viewing many things at once as one whole of referring them severally to their true place in the universal system, of understanding their respective values, and determining their mutual dependence."