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Author: Maura Ryan
Course Syllabus

Course Description

This course provides a historical, theoretical and practical overview of the principles and themes of the Roman Catholic encyclical tradition.  It explores views of Christian social responsibility though classic texts and contemporary problems.

Course Goals

  1. Identify and understand the core principles and methodologies of Roman Catholic Social Teaching;
  2. Understand the forces, movements and events which have shaped the development of the Roman Catholic social tradition;
  3. Apply the core principles of Roman Catholic social teaching to contemporary problems.


Students are expected:

  • to read the overviews for each unit and all assigned readings.
  • to take careful notes on assigned readings.
  • to be prepared to participate in weekly discussions of basic themes, principles and applications.
  • to complete written assignments on time.
  • to respond, in approximately 250-300 words, to one or both of the questions based on the readings for the coming week will be posted by the instructor.
  • to complete two 7-10 page papers which apply the principles of Catholic social thought to a contemporary issue of your choice.



  • O'Brien and Shannon. Catholic Social Thought:  The Documentary Heritage. (Orbis, 2001).
  • Curran, C.  Catholic Social Teaching: 1891-present. (Georgetown, 2002).
  • Ehrenreich, B. Nickled and Dimed in America. (Metropolitan Books, 2001).


  • Mich, M.H. Catholic Social Teaching and Movements (Twentythird Publications, 2001).
  • Himes, ed.  Modern Catholic Social Teaching:  Commentaries and Interpretations. (Washington,  DC:  Georgetown University Press, 2005).

**Note:  Readings from the assigned books which are available on-line have active links on the Readings page.


Component Percentage
Class Participation 40%
Paper #1 30%
Paper #2 30%
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