On the sixth floor of the library, a new faith based presence has taken up residence.
The Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture (ICTC) has been in the works for a number of years, according to Seattle University librarian John Popko, but only this fall was there a physical location on campus.
The Institute of Catholic Tradition and Culture is located on the sixth floor of the Library. The purpose of the space is to inspire Catholic tradition, learning and research.
According to the Institute, its goals are to explore Catholic tradition in the context of today’s issues, to support Seattle U’s faculty in faith based research and course development, to support the community dialogue on Catholicism and to strengthen Seattle U’s commitment to understanding Catholicism in a global and economic context.
The space the ICTC will occupy in the library was not previously empty. It will be taking the place of a large library staff conference room and a break room. With the changes, library staff will now be sharing a small break room on the second floor, which is already serving about 125 student assistants.
Library staff converted a supply room into a new meeting space to accommodate the new neighbors. Unfortunately, that space is much smaller, so in some cases, library staff will have book library group study rooms to make up for the loss of space.
Popko said that though the ICTC is not a department of the library, putting it in the most prominent and attractive building on campus reflects the fact that it is an important new part of Seattle U.
While the reduction of workspace available to library staff is unfortunate, Popko said library staff has still welcomed the addition.
“The President has established the ICTC as a high priority for the university,” he said.
So Fr. Stephen Sundborg, S.J., proclaimed it, and so it was.
“The Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture underscores Seattle U’s Catholic identity and makes available the unique resources a Catholic and Jesuit university can provide to the people of our region,” Sundborg, S.J. said about the ICTC.
The idea of the institute has been around for a while, but the ICTC was founded this year by its current director, professor Catherine Punsalan-Manlimos, who has written on the website that she hopes for Seattle U to “engage in dialogue about real questions we have as a community and bring together scholars to help us think about what it means to be a Catholic university, what our responsibilities are, and how we can take our place in the task of examining and expounding the riches of the Catholic Intellectual Tradition.”
“Through the Institute, we have the opportunity to examine how faith offers a transformative vision of life as we support the academic search for truth,” she said.
To live up to these expectations and to achieve these goals, the ICTC will be enveloping a number of pre-existing campus activities, including the Catholic Heritage Lecture Series. The lecture series was launched back in 2010 to engage students and the community with Catholic thought and culture.
The lectures have hosted well-respected scholars of disciplines from across the board, such as the famous environmental ethicist Holmes Rolston III.
The ICTC will also be taking over faculty research grants and summer course development stipends for engaging students and faculty with the Catholic Intellectual Tradition. This financial support for faculty will allow professors across campus to conduct research and flesh out new courses for the university catalog, in order to provide students with the resources they need to delve deeper into exploring the influence of Catholicism in schools of thought and culture.
A previous recipient of an ICTC research grant, professor Erica Yamamura of the College of Education, explained in an ICTC literature that the grant allowed her to conduct a study across different educational institutions she would not have been able to conduct otherwise.
Fr. Peter Ely, S.J., has said that the goal and placement of the ICTC in the library symbolizes the academic character of Seattle U, and the new presence of the ICTC there solidifies the value of the addition as an educational and enriching resource for students, staff, faculty and community.
Fr. Ely said that students should expect to see many public forums and lectures available in order to participate on campus in a faith-based manner.