St. Kate's Liberal Arts Education

St. Catherine University is committed to the liberal arts as the broad base of learning and to the pursuit of excellence for our students.


  • Liberal arts

    What does it say?

    When St. Kate’s was founded in 1905, its curriculum was modeled on elite liberal arts colleges and universities at the time. Majors offered then included philosophy, chemistry, art history, botany and English — to name a few — and the goals were clear:

    A liberal arts education at St. Kate’s emphasizes disciplinary breadth and depth that cultivate curiosity and forge connections among disparate arenas of knowledge.


  • The skills you need

    What does it mean?

    The vision of St. Catherine University is to be respected globally for educating women who transform the world. In its mission, the University is committed to the liberal arts as the broad base of learning and to the pursuit of excellence for its students. St. Catherine offers academic curricular and co-curricular programs in an atmosphere that stimulates students to make their lives full and meaningful and provides opportunities, both intellectual and personal, for them to develop leadership abilities, spiritual values, and responsible commitments to society.

    Along with the depth of knowledge provided by her chosen discipline, the student at the St. Catherine University will have opportunities to acquire broad knowledge in a variety of disciplines and transferable skills to serve as a foundation to a life-long process of learning. St. Catherine University has identified seven themes of a St. Catherine’s education encompassing the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that it seeks to develop in its graduates.


Liberal Arts Learning Goals

Based on our commitment to women, the liberal arts, and the Catholic traditions of intellectual inquiry and social teaching, an education at St. Catherine University emphasizes the following.

The ability to lead and influence for ethical and responsible action and for systemic change; the ability to work well with others, especially in joint intellectual effort.

Students will demonstrate leadership and collaboration by their ability to

  • act from a strong self-concept
  • transform information into knowledge and knowledge into judgment and action
  • make timely and relevant decisions based on sound reasoning
  • discern consequences, including ethical consequences, of decisions and actions
  • articulate a positive sense of direction and evoke hope
  • work well in teams and work groups of diverse composition, building consensus and integrating conflict resolution strategies

The ability to apply ethical standards to judge individual and collective actions; the development of attitudes and behaviors that reflect integrity, honesty, compassion, and justice in one’s personal and professional life.

Students will demonstrate a commitment to ethics and social justice by

  • understanding principles of ethics and social justice from multiple perspectives
  • understanding Catholic Social Teaching and the Catholic commitment to social justice
  • applying ethical and justice frameworks to contemporary issues
  • exhibiting personal and academic integrity
  • practicing social responsibility through community engagement, citizenship and advocacy

The ability to understand and analyze the impact of diversity and systems of power and privilege on the individual and society; the ability to decipher and honor multiple and global perspectives in creating mutual understanding; the ability to imagine and
take action toward justice.

Students will demonstrate a commitment to diversity and global perspectives by their ability to

  • understand the experiences and contributions of women across history and cultures
  • recognize the historic and current relationships within and among cultural communities, locally, nationally and globally
  • identify and critically analyze the intersections and impact of race/ethnicity, gender, social class, religion, sexual orientation, age, ability and other differences on identity, experience, and systems of power and privilege
  • understand how economic, social, religious and political systems interact and how those systems vary across societies
  • understand the interrelationships between nature and humans and develop eco-centric perspectives
  • increase critical cultural competencies and cultural responsiveness through engaging with multiple communities
  • take action to dismantle systems of oppression and build a more just world

The ability to gather, analyze and critically evaluate information to develop reasonable arguments, sound judgments, and effective solutions. This ability is founded on a broad knowledge of the achievements of human creativity and of the variety of disciplinary approaches for exploring truths.

Students will demonstrate critical and creative inquiry by their ability to

  • locate appropriate information from a variety of sources and evaluate its relevance and reliability
  • organize, describe, interpret, and integrate both qualitative and quantitative information
  • shape ideas and discern meaning from experience, observation, imagination, and passion
  • analyze complex issues and arguments in various intellectual contexts (scientific, aesthetic, philosophical, etc.) and evaluate the validity and soundness of such arguments
  • develop and evaluate action plans for solving significant social and intellectual problems
  • demonstrate breadth of knowledge of the major accomplishments of human endeavors and of the distinct methods of exploring truths (in the natural sciences, social sciences, and the arts and humanities)*
  • identify and interpret similarities and differences among various disciplinary approaches and examine the relationships among them.

* Breadth of knowledge applies to all degrees except the graduate degrees, where the focus is on in-depth development of disciplinary skills.

The ability to demonstrate in-depth knowledge, values and skills in at least one major field of study and to relate disciplinary approaches to those of other fields.

Students will demonstrate discipline-based competence by their ability to

  • use in-depth knowledge and engage key ideas in at least one field of study
  • exercise disciplinary methods and skills, and carry out research or learn independently in that field
  • develop disciplinary perspective and identity, including an understanding of the route to acquiring knowledge in that discipline
  • identify and analyze similarities and differences between the student’s major field and other disciplinary approaches

The ability to read, write, speak, view, and listen effectively; the ability to present information in a clear and engaging manner.

Students will demonstrate effective communication by the ability to

  • read, view, and listen with understanding and critical discernment
  • organize, evaluate, and communicate ideas effectively through writing and public speaking to various audiences
  • prepare and present information visually and through the use of technology
  • find expression in fine, literary, and performing arts
  • develop and put into practice interpersonal, group, and cross-cultural communication skills and listening skills
  • show competency in a second language (applies only to bachelor’s degree)

The ability to continue personal and professional development based on ongoing self-assessment, feedback from others, and new learning.

Students will demonstrate a commitment to purposeful life-long learning by

  • assuming responsibility for their own learning
  • engaging in and reflecting on opportunities that prepare for life after college
  • practicing a variety of methods of learning, including reading and research, observing and listening, self assessment and feedback, work and life experience
  • developing knowledge and strategies for maintaining a balance of body, mind and spirit
  • reflecting on and developing a meaningful, purposeful, and spiritual life

  • Claiming education

    How are we living it?

    We live the liberal arts at St. Kate’s in the way our students claim their education at all degree levels and across disciplines, both in the liberal arts and in professional programs.

    This “Claim your education” mantra comes from Adrienne Rich, whose 1977 essay “Claiming an Education” is a popular one with our first-year students in “The Reflective Woman” (TRW) course. In the essay, she writes:

    “Responsibility to yourself means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking and naming for you; it means learning to respect and use your own brains and instincts; hence, grappling with hard work.” (p. 53, TRW core reader)

    That’s right. At St. Kate’s, you are empowered to choose for yourself!


Endowed Mission Chairs

Here are the three faculty members bringing St. Catherine University's mission to life.