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St. Michael’s introduces the Gilson Seminar
New for 2017-18, and thanks to the generosity of donors, St. Michael’s College offers first-year students the chance to join an exclusive seminar that will explore the intersection of faith with today’s most important questions.
The Seminar consists of two half-courses, each featuring lectures, small-group discussions, community events, and guest speakers. The Seminar is taught by New York Times contributor, novelist, and St. Michael’s Principal Randy Boyagoda.
Scholarships will be awarded to successful applicants.
What are the courses?
Here’s a look at the two half-courses:
Fall 2017: The Gilson Seminar in Faith and Ideas
Inspired by the Catholic intellectual tradition and from a variety of perspectives, we will explore questions related to faith and ecology, science, literature and politics. The Seminar features a weekly lecture on a major topic and a small tutorial in which you will have a chance to explore the subject in greater depth. Throughout this course, you will have a chance to read, reflect, discuss and write about timely issues while engaging with timeless ideas. You will receive 0.5 course credits for taking this course, which would be one of normally 5 courses that you would take in the Fall term.
Spring 2018: The Gilson Seminar in Faith and Rome
This course features a two-week international learning experience in Rome, Italy, that explores the roles that the Catholic Church and Vatican have played in ecology, science, literature and politics. The Seminar features daily lectures and site-specific talks and tours in and around Rome. You will have a chance to immerse yourself in the living history of one of the world’s great centres of belief and culture and in turn to reflect, discuss, and write about this experience. You will receive 0.5 course credits for taking this course, which runs in the Spring term.
What will I be reading?
Some of the material you’ll be reading could include selections from:
- St. Augustine’s Confessions, an autobiography about what it means to search for truth and to believe in God when not very many people think there’s a point to it, and Dorothy Day’s The Long Loneliness, an autobiography about committing your life to social justice activism out of your belief in God
- Laudato si’, Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment and what it means to care for each other and the Earth out of our highest aspirations and commitments
- Ayad Akhtar’s American Dervish, a novel about life as a Muslim teenager in contemporary America, where the desire for religious belonging competes with the draw of popular culture and individualism, and G. Willow Wilson’s Alif the Unseen, a novel about the mystery of belief and allure of technology
- Gerard Manley Hopkins’s poems about creation and beauty, which were inspired by his life and travels as someone with vocations to both art and religious life
- Gene Luen Yang’s Boxers and Saints, graphic novels about xenophobia and Christianity in early twentieth-century China
- Louise Erdrich and Sherman Alexie’s reflections and poetry about the relationship between Catholicism, indigenous experience, and the life of the mind
- And looking ahead to the Gilson Seminar in Faith and Rome … Gyorgy Spiro’s Captivity, a novel about Jewish community life in first century Rome, where responding to God’s presence can have dramatic personal and political consequences
What about Rome—when do I go?
The Spring 2018 Gilson Seminar in Faith and Rome takes place in Rome, Italy, from May 8-18, 2018.
The Faith and Rome Seminar is based at the Villa Palazzola, a lakeside residence just outside the city. In advance of the trip, you will receive more detailed information and also safety training and other preparation.
Good news. All students admitted to the Gilson Seminar in Faith and Rome receive room and board at no cost. Students are responsible for their own airfare and incidentals.
Why should I apply?
The Gilson Seminar introduces you to university-level studies on a small scale, with students who share your interest in faith, ideas, and international experience. Beyond your academic activities in the Seminar, you will have a chance to propose and participate in innovative social justice projects, and in community- and culture-building activities with your fellow students. As a member of the very first class you will inspire future generations, forge lifelong friendships, and help create exciting new ways for St. Michael’s to flourish as the centre of Catholic intellectual life at the University of Toronto.