Catholic Social Tradition

The creation of the Center for Social Concerns was inspired by the people, documents, and principles of the Catholic social tradition. Growing out of the Center for Experiential Learning and the Volunteer Services Office of the 1970’s, the Center staff hopes to challenge ourselves and others to live up to the words of John Paul II to be part of the “‘new evangelization,’ which must include among its essential elements a proclamation of the church’s social doctrine."

The annual Catholic social tradition theme

Every year the Center selects an annual theme from Catholic social tradition to serve as a focus for annual programming and courses. The theme is drawn from a Papal encyclical or Bishops’ statement. The original document, along with other commentary and related resources provide context and background for analysis of pressing social issues.

The 2017–18 academic year's theme was The Challenge of Peace, inspired by a pastoral letter issued by the U.S. Bishops in 1983. The letter emphasized a comprehensive reflection by the U.S. Church the moral and religious dimensions of peacemaking. Though the main emphasis in 1983 was on the just-war tradition, pacifism, and nuclear arms, there are still relevant messages 35 years later on how people of faith can address the many tensions in society and our world from race, labor, and religion, to technology, the environment, and the arms trade. During the year we explored these challenges to peace in lunches, lectures, Center-wide learning goals, and readings such as Pacem in Terris, The Challenge of Peace, and World Day of Peace Message 2017. 

Catholic Social Tradition minor

The Catholic Social Tradition minor is an interdisciplinary minor in the College of Arts and Letters, co-directed by the Center for Social Concerns. Since its inception in 1997, the program has been committed to providing undergraduate students with a deeper understanding of the social ramifications of the Catholic faith by drawing on the wealth of resources of the Catholic social tradition as found in the official documents of the Church and the experience of the Catholic community.

Justice Education

Justice Education is both a commitment and theme embedded in courses, programming, and work with faculty of the Center for Social Concerns. The Center sponsors and cosponsors events for the campus and local community that serve to educate and to encourage action on behalf of justice and peace. Where possible, we aim to provide various forums for members of our campus and local community to consider and analyze pressing social problems and to draw “principles of reflection, norms of judgment and directives for action from the social teaching of the Church,” (Octogesima Adveniens 4).


Event Date
2019 Catholic Social Tradition Conference 03/21/2019 - 7:00pm to 9:00pm
2019 Catholic Social Tradition Conference 03/22/2019 - 7:30am to 9:30pm
2019 Catholic Social Tradition Conference 03/23/2019 - 8:00am to 4:30pm