Boisi Center staff members regularly teach courses at Boston College in political science and theology, the latter of which are also open to students in the Boston Theological Institute. The Center also offers Boston College students, faculty, staff and alumni the opportunity to join annual symposia, in which participants read and discuss primary texts and current events related to religion and politics.
Past educational initiatives include summer seminars on religion and public life for American college professors (supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities) and for foreign Muslim religious leaders and scholars (supported by the U.S. State Department) and the Catholic Intellectual Traditions Seminar, held in 2009, in which a diverse body of faculty members discussed opportunities offered by Catholic intellectual traditions.
The Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life hosts year-long faculty seminars during the academic year on various topics relevant to today's society. It is an interdisciplinary seminar among ten - twelve Boston College faculty members across different disciplines to help bridge the gap in dialogue and foster conversations.
Faculty Reading Group
The Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life hosts an interdisplinary faculty reading group on prominent American Catholic intellectuals. These conversations include faculty from across Boston College schools and departments who meet once a month, centered around a dinner, to dissect and discuss a series of passages that follow the trajectory of an author's work. Our aim is to enhance a collective understanding of the Catholic intellectual tradition through the shared study of one of its most influential American figures, and to build lasting bridges between departments.
Spring 2019: Flannery O'Connor
During the spring semester of 2019 a faculty group convened by Jeff Bloechl (Philosophy) and Mark Massa (Theology / Boisi Center) met once each month to discuss the fiction, prose and graphic art of the southern Catholic writer, Flannery O'Connor.
The faculty reading group featured an equally interdisciplinary cast, including: Jeffrey Bloechl, associate professor in the philosophy department, André Brouillette, S.J., assistant professor of systematic and spiritual theology at the STM; Catherine Cornille, professor and Newton College Alumnae Chair of Western Culture in the theology department; Mary Elliot, Boisi Center graduate research assistant; Sheila Gallagher, associate professor of studio art in the art department; Kimberly Garcia, who teaches creative writing in the English department; Candace Hetzner, associate dean for academic affairs in the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences; Mark Massa, S.J., director of the Boisi Center; Jack Nuelle, interim assistant to the director at the Boisi Center; James O’Toole, professor and Clough Millennium Chair in the history department; and Andrew Prevot, associate professor in the theology department.
The seminar was a lively examination of O’Connor’s work, technique, and theology from various disciplinary perspectives. The group read several of her short stories, as well as varied critical perspectives of O’Connor and her work.
2018: Thomas Merton
This year is the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk, social activist, and appreciative reader of non-Christian religious texts. Mark Massa, S.J. (Boisi Center, BC theology) and Jeffrey Bloechl (BC philosophy) led monthly faculty discussions of selections from Merton’s writings.
Other participants included Brian Braman (BC philosophy), André Brouillette, S.J. (BC School of Theology and Ministry), Catherine Cornille (BC theology), Sheila Gallagher (BC art, art history, and film), Kim Garcia (BC English), Kenneth Himes, O.F.M. (BC theology), Cyril Opeil, S.J. (BC physics), and James O’Toole (BC history).
Wishing to trace Merton’s remarkable itinerary and thus gain a sense of the development of the man from monk to public figure, the seminar took up Merton’s works in chronological order. This also became the occasion to reflect on developments in the Church, modern culture and global awareness between 1941, when Merton entered Gethsemane Abbey in Kentucky, and 1968, when he died unexpectedly during a conference in Bangkok.