Twenty-five Christendom College students attended the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture’s 20th annual Fall Conference, held November 7–9, 2019, in South Bend, Indiana. According to the conference website, the theme of friendship, from its ancient understanding as “the crown of life and the school of virtue” to the present day was explored. In the interdisciplinary spirit of the Fall Conference, the conference engaged these themes from a wide array of fields of inquiry, including theology, philosophy, political theory, law, history, economics, and the social sciences, as well as the natural sciences, literature, and the arts.
Led by Christendom’s political science department, this annual trip is an excellent opportunity for students to engage with Catholic thought outside the usual context of the classroom. Students heard from top Catholic and Christian thinkers at the conference, including renowned ethicist Alasdair MacIntyre and Academy Award nominee Whit Stillman.
Christendom students are well prepared by their studies to engage in academic conferences such as these. This year, the theme of the conference was one of particular interest to Christendom students. In the human nature and ethics courses that are part of the core curriculum at Christendom, the meaning and value of friendship are frequently discussed topics. Additionally, philosophy professor Dr. John Cuddeback teaches an upper level course called “Philosophy of Friendship,” which carefully examines the themes of friendship in the works of Aristotle, Aquinas, and other thinkers.
“Since we study the Nicomachean Ethics in depth and consider what Aristotle says on friendship, we had a great foundation for almost every talk we went to,” said senior Isabella Reilly.
The college encourages students to engage in intellectual pursuits outside the usual context of the classroom when they have the opportunity. In addition to pursuing their academic interests, conferences such as this also serve as a chance for students to make professional connections, especially for students pursuing graduate studies.
Christendom College seeks to instill in its students a philosophical habit of mind and help them to become lifelong learners so that they can go out into the world and stand for the truth as articulate, committed, Roman Catholic leaders. Attending academic conferences such as this one certainly helps students achieve excellence in this area.
This article was written with contributions from Katarina Federici (’20).