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College of Arts and Science

UN533 Desire and Discernment

capstone program

Timothy Muldoon

Assistant to the VP for University Mission and Ministry, University Mission and Ministry

This course, like all Capstone courses, aims to help students

  1. review the process of their education
  2. preview the process of making long-term commitments in four key areas:
    • work/career
    • citizenship
    • relationships and family
    • spirituality

It will do this by taking a long, loving look at the ways that human beings experience desire, and the ways that they act upon those desires to construct a life well lived.

The course will progress in two complementary ways. First, it will expose students to spiritual practices of discernment, rooted primarily in the Ignatian and Benedictine spiritual traditions: various forms of meditation and reflection, which we will learn and practice in class and at home. Second, it will involve careful thinking about stories of discernment which involve the sorting and pruning of desire. Our class discussions will reflect on these stories, in order to help each other consider what they mean for our own lives.

The trajectory of these inquiries is eminently practical: it will help students to be attentive, reflective, and loving in their discernment process. It will draw particularly from the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius Loyola as a text and tradition of discerning desire, for the sake of what Aristotle described as “great-souledness” and what Ignatius of Loyola described, simply, as love.

Students will participate in a regular blog which contributes to the class grade. Students will reflect on the week’s reading, raise questions for the class, and offer thoughts to continue discussions begun in class.