Sophia Review
year I, n. 1, January-June 2009


CODA, Piero. Sul luogo, il compito e la via dell’università oggi

In this introductory article, the author explains the background to the Seminar on the “The idea of University” by outlining three converging factors that led to the birth of the Sophia University Institute. In doing so, he also draws upon the experience of its first year of existence. In revisiting the original meaning of the “idea” of a university, its roots and developments, and exploring the indications provided by Chiara Lubich, the author reflects on the place, task and way of the Sophia University Institute in order to provide a definition of the “common work” that inspires its professors and students. Their experience is that of being at the school of the “only one Teacher”, a school rooted in the living context of the today’s humanity. He describes how the Institute strives to articulate the gift of Wisdom both in terms of formation and research in the various disciplinary fields in line with a twofold methodological option: the primacy of the self-giving of truth, and the way of dialogue within which the human person lives, loves and studies.


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ROSSÉ, Gérard. La paradossale Sapienza di Dio rivelata dal Crocifisso

Taking as his starting point, 1 Cor 1: 17ff where Paul speaks of the paradoxical divine wisdom of the Crucified Christ as the power of God that the apostle sees realised in the proclamation of the kerygma, the author of this article reviews how Paul applies this both to the situation Christians of Corinth find themselves in (1 Cor 1:24-25) and to his own experience as apostle (1 Cor 2:1- 5). He aims to show how this can have a bearing on the methodology issues that arise regarding the relationship between professor and students in teaching and learning.


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POVILUS, Judith. L’idea di università in Chiara Lubich e l’Istituto Universitario Sophia

At a time when university leaders are seeking answers to the challenges of a world in rapid change, Chiara Lubich’s proposal of a model of higher learning in which life and study form an integrated whole is both relevant and new. In this article the author outlines what might be called a “Chiarian” model of teaching and learning. It involves both students and teachers committing themselves to profound inter-personal communion on every level, all being active participants and all co-responsible in the educative process. This model proposes that the presence of Christ in the mutual relations that make up the university community is a source of light for penetrating the multiple fields of human knowledge. A transdisciplinary approach is thereby made possible by such profound inter-personal relations, based on mutual recognition and reception, whereby each discipline can interact more fruitfully with others. In such a wisdom-oriented learning environment, knowledge becomes an existential participation in what is learned. The positive experience of the first year of the Sophia University Institute is a practical example of the effectiveness of this model.


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SINISCALCO, Paolo. La nascita della cultura cristiana e l’università medievale

In itself the Gospel is not culture. But it is equally true that the heart of a believer touched by the Gospel message cannot but produce a culture that expresses the novelty of being in Christ, a “Christian” culture. This culture is articulated in a plurality of theoretical and practical forms that, in each case, is far from being definitive. The basis of “Christian culture” is Sacred Scripture, its key points being Christological and Trinitarian doctrine. The schools that arose in the Patristic era were not in competition with the classic paideia. Likewise, later on, Monastic, Cathedral and Presbyteral schools kept a religious character. They prepared for the birth of the Medieval Universities of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries that were made up of communities of teachers and students and supported by Imperial, regional or Ecclesiastical authorities. The challenge for them was how to harmonise “scientific” truth with religious truth, a challenge that is still very relevant today too.


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RONDINARA, Sergio. La dialettica tra sapere umanistico e sapere scientifico

In its attempt to establish its identity as an autonomous form of knowing vis-àvis philosophy of theology, the modern science emerging in the sixteenth century gave rise to a dialectic among the forms of knowledge that has characterised Western culture right up to today. In this article some of the main historical developments and theoretical issues are summarized briefly. In the past four centuries of trying to establish the relationships that exist between scientific and humanistic forms of knowledge, an increasing fragmentation of culture has been produced with the result that different fields of knowledge tend still today to live independently of one another. The greatest contemporary challenge and calling to universities is that of overcoming this cultural situation through an authentic dialogue between humanistic and scientific forms of knowledge, a dialogue that can contribute to overcoming the difficulties of the past, and lead human consciousness forward towards a united way of knowing.


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BRUNI, Luigino. Il sapere tra civile ed economico

The paper shows how economics became, in the context of the Italian “civil economy”, a discipline distinct from philosophy. In particular the paper focuses on the differences between a Latin tradition, the civil economy, and the anglo-saxon one, the political economy, showing the implications of such differences for the development of the modern economic science and its teaching. In the second part of the paper, the author shows a new interest in today’s academy for an inter-trans disciplinary dialogue, although this new season of dialogue has not reached yet the level of the teaching but only that of the research. In this context - the author claims - Sophia can represent a veritable innovation in the contemporary academic scenario.


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NORRIS, Thomas J. ‘The Idea of a University’: Cardinal Newman’s Vision

John Henry Newman’s name is associated in a particular way with education. He was not only a life-long educator at all levels, he was also a great thinker about education. His seminal work, The Idea of a University, emerged in the context of the launching of the Catholic University of Ireland between1852 and 1859. ‘What an empire is in political history, such is a University in the sphere of philosophy and research.’ This article expounds the principal insights of The Idea. Three areas stand out in a most engaging fashion. First, there is the scope of university education as the achievement of the facility to think clearly, together with the conquest of freedom in the genuine pursuit of virtue and religion. Then there is the full circle of the many sciences that are still deeply related to each other: the educated mind will perceive their unity in distinction. Finally, there is the quality of the relationship between students and their professors. That relationship is the only alternative to turning the total enterprise into ‘an arctic winter.’


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GRANATA, Elena. L’università oggi: crisi, istanze e prospettive

It is clear that in the contemporary crisis and self-analysis going on within modern universities, current university models are not broad enough to meet today’s challenges. There needs to be an integration between knowledge and life. There is also a need for a critical approach through interdisciplinary research, development of student/teacher relationships and an improvement of the inter relationship between lectures. It’s very important also to ensure an inclusive atmosphere where the ideas of women and young people can flourish.


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ZANI, A. Vincenzo. L’eredità cristiana e le sfide del contesto

The idea of university arose and developed within the life of the Church. Its identity was shaped around the Universitas magistrorum et scholarium, a community united by love of wisdom and the search for truth. The universities played an important role in the establishing of European identity and in the formation of cultural heritage.
Today universities are faced with several challenges: the union of wisdominspired and functional forms of knowledge; the proper relationship between knowledge and technology; the convergence of the various forms of knowing towards a centre of meaning in accordance with the very etymology of the word university, uni-versum.
International bodies have established objectives and guidelines for Higher Institutes of Learning with a view to creating an environment open to intercultural dialogue, and preparing leaders who are capable of promoting democratic citizenship and social cohesion. In this context and in order to carry out effectively a social and cultural role, universities must recuperate from Tradition some principal guidelines on how to be a community of persons (universitas magistrorum et scholarium) and a community of disciplines of knowledge (universitas studiorum).
In conclusion, the university today is called, precisely on account of its universal character, to go beyond the various confines (not least geographical) that exist between diverse forms of knowledge. In order to respond to modern, cultural and socio-economic needs, the university today must be able to propose a new humanism as well as looking after the operative aspects of teaching and learning, curriculum, research, job placement, insertion in the local territory, internationalization and quality control.


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CROCIATA, Mariano. La persona al centro del dialogo culturale

In this article, the author reflects on contemporary cultural challenges to the notion of person understood for his or her own dignity, and not in dependence upon external attributes that inevitably are arbitrary. The author proposes that a rediscovery of the theological genealogy of the category of person can facilitate an authentic recovery of the absolute value of the person without taking from the equally intangible value of his or her autonomy and freedom that in such a perspective are always to be considered to be structurally relational, in other words, viewed within a network of relations that mark everyone’s life. Viewing the category of person in this way, it is possible to grasp the constitutive relationship of the person not only with culture, without which no human being can become fully human or fully a person, but also with dialogue since the interior nature of the person is dialogical and this lies at the basis of the interpersonal dialogue in which every human being is located and called to develop.


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CODA, Piero. Acquisizioni e linee di ricerca

The conclusion of the Seminar, after having underscored the positivity of the methods and style experienced, summarizes above all the main achievements that emerged during the course of the works, organizing them into three points: the “place” of the university and the “subject” that gives it form; its specific “task” to articulate the inspiration of wisdom with the autonomous and convergent practicability of the various disciplines; the “way” of the university marked by two prioritized methodological inversions that become decipherable and feasible through the “focus” of Jesus forsaken. It then recalls the eventual lines of research and suggestions that came to light for the future.


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