This course studies the experience of Catholicism in the United States from the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s to the present day. Although the events that you will study in this course occurred in the very recent past, you will approach them from a historical perspective as you attempt to discern patterns, continuities, and change over time.
As you move through the course, you will notice that many themes will emerge and overlap from unit to unit. Catholicism in the U.S. over the last forty-five years has left a rich but contested history. The goal of the course is that you gain an understanding of the historical dimension of each of the major themes of the recent history of U.S. Catholicism; when they developed and why, and the subsequent impact each has had on the shaping of the Catholic community in the United States.
*Note: All participants must have their own copy of The Faithful: A History of Catholics in America by James M. O’Toole (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2008).
Unit 1: The Second Vatican Council
- Introduces the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and its major agenda of reform.
Unit 2: The Church of Vatican II: Reform and Revolution
- Provides an overview of how the Catholic Church in the U.S. interpreted the reforms of the Council, attempted to implement them, and experienced the challenges of a changing Church and American culture.
Unit 3: Pluralism of Belief and Practice I: Theology and Worship
- Focuses on the plurality of voices that emerged after the Second Vatican Council on matters of theology and religious practice or piety.
Unit 4: Pluralism of Belief and Practice II: Prayer and Politics
- Connects the changes in how Catholics understood and practiced their faith to the ways in which they engaged wider American culture and politics after the Council.
Unit 5: The American Catholic Church in the 21st Century
- A survey of selected critical issues in American Catholicism during the first decade of the 21st Century from the sexual abuse crisis to the new wave of immigration from Latin America, Asia, and Africa.
- Created by Notre Dame Professor.
- Six weeks in duration, with one week for orientation.
- Typically 15-20 students in each course.
- Supplemental readings are provided to encourage further exploration of topic
- Written assignments (150-200 words) required.
- Facilitator moderated chat sessions with students in course.
- All participants must have their own copy of The Faithful: A History of Catholics in America by James M. O’Toole (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2008).
- All other course materials are available online. Supplemental readings and resources will also be provided.
- Read assigned texts; keep notes, questions, and comments for class discussion.
- Participate in the class discussion using the Forums area: post at least 2 comments, questions, or responses per unit.
- Write 150-200 words in response to the assignment in each unit.
- Participate in at least 3 scheduled chat sessions throughout the course.
- Complete the course evaluation.
4 to 6 hours per week, depending on your learning style and schedule.
A certificate of completion awarding 30 contact hours will be sent upon completion of all course requirements.