This past week, the PC/CEA Rome Program offered its second Academic Colloquium. Besides taking classes, going on site visits, and participating in cultural experiences in Italy, our students also attend Academic Colloquia each month.
According to CEA Assistant Academic Dean, Marcello Di Paola, “the Colloquium is an opportunity for students, faculty, and guests to engage in high-quality academic exchange, confronting one another in the framework of constructive dialogue.”
This month’s Colloquium was sponsored by Providence College. I invited Fr. Alejandro Crosthwaite, O.P., from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, (Angelicum) to be our guest lecturer. In this way we could introduce the other CEA students to the Dominican mission of P.C. and give them a taste of the theology of Thomas Aquinas. Fr. Alejandro is Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and an associate professor of Catholic Social Teaching, Social and Political Ethics, and Media Studies. He also serves as Public Relations officer of the Angelicum.
The lecture was entitled: “The Question of Good and Evil in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy“. His presentation used philosophy, theology, and film studies to explore the problem of good and evil. He began by asking the students if we are born basically good or basically bad. Then he launched into a survey of how major philosophers like Rousseau, Hobbes, and others have understood human nature. (Lots of DWC references here!) Then he analyzed the recent “Batman films” by Christopher Nolan. Using images and quotes from the films, he pieced together Nolan’s views about good, evil, and the human condition.
After discussing the philosophical views of human nature as well as the Batman films, Fr. Alejandro ended with the Catholic view. He offered a summary of Aquinas’ view of human nature and a beautiful description of our salvation in Christ.
The question and answer period was a robust conversation since not everyone was convinced by the account of “good and evil” given by Aquinas. Then the real fun began! Fr. Alejandro was more than adept at answering objections and giving further explanations with real life references and down-to-earth examples. We ended by talking about the media stir concerning Pope Francis’ references to human conscience in his recent interview in the Italian newspaper, La Repubblica.
All in all, the Colloquium helped to “keep the study in study abroad” – which has been one of our mottos here this Fall semester. Keeping the kind of academic integrity that Providence College expects and requires is a constant focus of our programming. And this month’s Colloquium went a long way to help promote the tradition, passion, and promise of P.C.