“We call those studies liberal, then, which are worthy of a free man: they are those through which virtue and wisdom are either practised or sought and by which the body and mind is disposed to the best things. “
Pier Paolo Vergerio,
The Character and Studies Befitting a Free-Born Youth (c. 1402.)
At Chavagnes the study of the humanities is in the great tradition of liberal education. This kind of education is not simply a dry theory, nor is it restricted to those subjects now named humanities, although its principles are mostly clearly seen in our teaching of these disciplines.
Liberal education is the transmission of our great Western cultural patrimony to our young. But it is more than that: its aim is to make every student his own man: free and capable of using his reason, fit to take part in that “great conversation” begun in fifth-century Athens and among the people of Israel and continuing to this day.
At the centre of that great conversation is the Incarnate Word, “the Redeemer of man, Jesus Christ … the centre of the universe and of history”.
The Chavagnes Liberal Arts degree is wide-ranging, but not simply so as to stimulate the interest and curiosity of its students. It proposes a complete intellectual formation that provides a coherent world view. In the fast-changing modern world, this is an especially important task, in the face of the “segmentation of knowledge” which, “with its splintered approach to truth and consequent fragmentation of meaning, keeps people today from coming to an interior unity,” St Pope John Paul II emphasises: “taking up what has been taught repeatedly by the Popes for several generations and reaffirmed by the Second Vatican Council itself, I wish to reaffirm strongly the conviction that the human being can come to a unified and organic vision of knowledge. This is one of the tasks which Christian thought will have to take up through the next millennium of the Christian era.” Our new 2-year Liberal Arts degree course provides young Catholics with an opportunity to receive a solid cultural and intellectual formation before making important career choices, in order to help them to participate in the re-evangelisation of culture in whichever field they subsequently pursue.
Taught through the medium of English and inspired by similar courses in the USA and Australia, the Chavagnes Liberal Arts programme will be the first of its kind in Europe. Admission to the course will be open to those with an appropriate level of intellectual ability and sufficient prior education in humanities and also, preferably, in mathematics (corresponding to the French baccalaureate or UK A-levels.)
Because of our existing infrastructure and team of gifted teaching staff, we are able to offer an environment where music, sport and Catholic community life provide an excellent setting for young people to grow in faith and maturity as they deepen their knowledge of the western intellectual tradition.
Initially, Chavagnes can provide for teaching, accommodation and extra-curricular activities for up to 20 young men. It is envisaged that by the second or third year of operation similar facilities will be extended to young women also.
- To provide an opportunity for young people to gain a solid intellectual formation through the study of the Liberal Arts in a strong academic and Catholic environment which includes daily participation in the Sacred Liturgy.
- To provide a degree-level formation to equip young people to teach core subjects to High School pupils aged up to 16, and the humanities to UK Advanced Level or the USA’s AP tests (up to age 18), including French as a foreign language.
- To provide an ideal pre-seminary grounding in the Liberal Arts for young men considering a vocation to the priesthood.
The course content and scheme of assessment can be downloaded here: