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Course Descriptions

The courses offered through the Certificate in Jesuit Studies program offer a variety of experiences for participants to study different aspects of the Society of Jesus. Whether online, on campus, or through immersion travel, the graduate-level courses help promote a deep, informed understanding of Jesuit spirituality, history, pedagogy, and leadership methods.

Below are the descriptions for the courses offered through the Certificate in Jesuit Studies program. We are pleased to announce new course offerings for the 2019–20 academic year! If you are interested in applying for any of these new offerings and would like to be notified when the application becomes available fill out the course interest form.

Applicants do not have to be enrolled in the full certificate program to participate in a course. The Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies can also facilitate enrolled students’ participation in relevant courses offered on the campus of Boston College, such as summer courses at the School of Theology and Ministry. Please contact the Institute with any questions (

In the Footsteps of Leaders
Fr. Casey Beaumier, S.J. and Seth Meehan, PhD
3 credits

This immersion course combines dynamic online interactions with extensive guided travels in Europe to present students with unique opportunities to examine the foundation of the Society of Jesus. Participants gain a deep understanding of the cultural and religious contexts for the order’s origins, learning about the earliest Jesuits’ distinctive leadership methods as well as some of those used by leaders today. After preliminary online readings and discussions, two weeks of experiential learning immerses students in the key places that became the roots of the Society of Jesus, informed by daily presentations and writings based by primary source readings and from seminars hosted by European leaders within the Society of Jesus.

Jesuit Pedagogy
Prof. Cristiano Casalini
(online course, 3 credits, offered in Fall 2018 and Spring 2020)

One key to the unprecedented success of Jesuit education has been the tension between the recognizable mark of uniformity that long distinguished the methods, contents, and practices of Jesuit schools and their ability to adapt to different contexts and times. Both aspects--the uniformity and adaptability--were explicitly supported by the Ratio studiorum, the Jesuits’ foundational plan of studies issued in 1599, which, despite the schools’ many variations and complexities, retained some influence over time. With the Ratio discarded, Jesuit schools had to clarify what made them distinctively Jesuit, reconciling their mission with the contemporary world. This class sketches the developments of Jesuit educational endeavors by focusing on both the permanent and changing traits of its distinctive pedagogy.


A History of the Jesuits
Seth Meehan, PhD
(online course, 3 credits, offered in Spring 2019)

This course offers an introductory survey to the Society of Jesus’s 475-year history with particular attention, following the Jesuits’ suppression in 1773, to various enterprises and enterprisers in the Americas. It seeks to answer these questions: What have been the characteristics of the Society of Jesus and its associated works? And how and why have those characteristics remained the same or changed? The course traces the origins, development, expansion, suppression, restoration, and recent developments of the Society of Jesus by closely examining the contributions of significant historical figures and Jesuit apostolates.


Spiritual Exercises: Contents, Context, and Practice
Fr. Casey Beaumier, S.J.
(online course, 3 credits, offered in Spring 2020)

This course explores the dynamic of the Spiritual Exercises, the pathway to God that Ignatius Loyola authored, the fruit of his religious conversion, and seeks to answer the question: How might greater knowledge of the Spiritual Exercises assist both in the formation of souls and a greater sense of mission for the building of God's kingdom? The course examines the key elements of the Spiritual Exercises and how they relate directly and practically to the ministry of spiritual direction. Readings include the careful study of the primary text along with secondary readings that will enable students to more fully understand the important scholarly developments of Jesuits engaged in the Exercises. Through this course, students will gain foundational knowledge and practical experience to encourage further study of and engagement with the charism of the Spiritual Exercises.


Social Justice in Jesuit Contexts
Prof. Cristiano Casalini
(online course, 3 credits, offered in Fall 2019)

The Social Apostolate of the Society of Jesus has developed in a variety of ways over the centuries according the diverse contexts where Jesuits have operated as agents of “social justice.” This class offers students both a broad and deep understanding of: 1) How the Society of Jesus developed its mission in support of creating a “preferential option for the poor”; 2) How the Society understood its role to promote liberation from oppression in diverse social environments; 3) What kind of services have been activated by the Society of Jesus in order to fulfill its core values of “the service of faith and promotion of justice”; and 4) How social justice is pursued through pedagogy and practices by Jesuit and Ignatian schools today, given the significant involvement of the Jesuits with formal education on a global scale. The course is designed to foster deep and meaningful conversation among students. It will include individual and collective readings and video-conferences with leaders and teachers of Jesuit schools around the world, deepening students’ knowledge of current practices and stimulating dialogue. 


Emerging Leaders in Action
(hybrid seminar, 3 credits)

This hybrid course serves as the culmination of the courses offered through the Certificate in Jesuit Studies program, and its enrollment is open to only those participants who have successfully completed four other courses. Online readings, discussions, and case studies expose participants to contemporary leadership strategies and the challenges facing leaders today. The course continues at Boston College with a one-week program. Lectures and discussions and case-study analyses by distinguished guests foster a depth of understanding as participants practically apply the knowledge and skills gained in previous classes. Coursework ends with the presentation of projects, completed individually or in small groups, that the participants will institute at their own works or communities. Through this course, students will reconcile their previous understanding of the Jesuits’ early vision of leadership for the vitality of their works with the ways that vision has both changed and remained constant when confronted by challenges and opportunities.