Annotations: Educating Minds and Hearts to Change the World

Every Jesuit Catholic university is rooted in the Catholic intellectual tradition, which emphasizes  the importance of developing both the heart and mind. The tradition invites faculty and students to ask big questions about humanity and to discover that faith and reason go hand in hand when addressing a problem or issue. This invitation can be seen as countercultural in academia, but in Jesuit Catholic colleges and universities, it’s what makes our students and graduates distinct. Educating hearts and minds to change the world is the primary goal of a USF education no matter what the field of study may be.

It is assumed that the mind will gain knowledge and be developed in higher education, as that is the goal of academia. Students will learn critical thinking, reading, and writing skills. They will take these skills and apply them to real-world situations and hopefully make a difference. What happens when students are challenged to use both their head and heart to approach a problem? Examples from textbooks and articles change into examples of lived experiences. Problems in our students’ hometowns or countries are shared in class with others who may have never heard of those locations. Issues that seem unsolvable or not any one person’s problem become humanized and top of mind for all of us. Assignments don’t just remain a way to earn a grade but instead become a place of critical reflection and discernment about how to bring about meaningful change. 

Outside of our classrooms, there are several opportunities for our students and community to engage both the heart and mind. University Ministry offers a plethora of opportunities for all students, faculty, and staff, from retreats and prayer services to reading groups and immersion trips. The Cultural Centers have created brave and safe spaces where students can explore their identities and intersectionalities and learn from one another. The Joan and Ralph Lane Center for Catholic Social Thought and the Ignatian Tradition often hosts events with speakers who are living examples of what it means to engage hearts and minds to shake up the injustices of our world. This by no means is a complete list of resources at USF, but our community is so fortunate to have numerous resources to nurture our vital organs—the head and the heart.

As you reflect on “educating hearts and minds to change the world,” here are some questions for reflection:

  • How have you engaged your heart and mind to solve a problem or conflict in your professional, academic, or personal life?
  • What are some of your favorite ways to expand your knowledge using your heart and mind?
  • What are some opportunities you’d like to see USF provide for more heart and mind engagement?