Kellen Stepler | Staff Writer
Believe it or not, the time to start registering for spring semester classes is quickly approaching. As students scramble to sign up for courses and credits, Duquesne University’s Center for Catholic Faith and Culture’s (CCFC) Catholicism and the Common Good grant has a solution for students interested in an innovative, unique course offering.
This spring, students will have the chance to take a class titled United Pittsburgh, which is “an academic-community collaboration, offered by the Theology Department, that provides an opportunity to develop authentic, mutually beneficial alliances with external stakeholders, impart new insights into Catholic social teaching and promote civic awareness among students, faculty and staff,” according to Kimberly Saunders, CCFC Program Director.
United Pittsburgh hosts two classes, one undergraduate level and one graduate level.
The three-credit undergraduate course, named United Pittsburgh: Racial Ethics and Social Geography, features live TED talks from Pittsburgh leaders. The course will introduce students to social ethics by exploring issues such as race, health disparities, economic inequality and violence. Completion of the course will satisfy the social justice theme area for students’ university core requirement. The course is co-taught by Elisabeth Vasko and Terri Baltimore.
The graduate course, worth three credits, is titled United Pittsburgh: Virtue, Christianity and the Two Kingdoms. This team-taught course explores questions in ethics while relating to social justice issues in Pittsburgh’s local context. Instructors of the course are Elizabeth Cochran and Rev. Paul Abernathy.
Darlene Weaver, CCFC director and director of the core curriculum, is leading the program for the university.
“The goal of United Pittsburgh is to bring together local leaders, students, faculty, staff and citizens of Pittsburgh to grapple with the challenges Pittsburgh confronts and to envision ways to forge a future that is beneficial to all,” Weaver said.
Prospective students may also be intrigued by the uniqueness of the program and its innovative nature.
“Students enrolled in the United Pittsburgh courses will enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn from and with social entrepreneurs, government officials, philanthropists and faith leaders,” Weaver said. “The classes will be unlike any they’ve had before.”
The program also ties into Duquesne’s mission.
“As a Catholic and Spiritan university, Duquesne prepares students who will promote the common good through lives of ethical behavior, professional leadership and civic engagement,” Weaver said. “The initiative will help participants understand the root causes of challenges facing the Pittsburgh region and introduce them to concrete steps that will promote a future of equity and inclusion for the Pittsburgh region.”
The program spans for 10 weeks and will be held on consecutive Monday evenings from Feb. 4 to April 15. Students will meet with their class at 6 p.m., then join the public for a lecture to start at 6:30 p.m., to then return to their class to discuss the topic.
Interested students can visit www.duq.edu/united-pgh and can talk to their academic advisors for more information.