Colleges and Universities have a long and storied history in the Catholic domain. Indeed, it was within a particular Catholic context that ‘the University’ as such came into existence. The Church continually sees the need for and places value in these places of inquiry and learning, for who is Christ if not the teacher par excellence? There are three post-secondary Catholic institutions in Alberta: St. Joseph’s College (Edmonton), Newman Theological College (Edmonton), and St. Mary’s University (Calgary). These three institutions have similar missions, mandates, and are jointly a net benefit to the larger project of Catholic education in Alberta. Our contexts are markedly different, however.
As the Dean of St. Joseph’s, I’ll be presenting the unique context of St. Joe’s, as it is affectionately called. Sometimes St. Joe’s is called ‘the best kept secret at the UofA’. One of my jobs is to make it the worst kept secret.
Who We Are:
We teach and research in Catholic thought at the premier public research university in Alberta and one of the best universities in the country, consistently ranking in the top 125 universities world-wide. We allow for a space at the University of Alberta where questions of meaning, faith, and human thriving can be integrated and asked in a qualified academic framework, and this provides added value to UofA students, to the UofA at large, and to Catholic education in Alberta.
Some basic facts:
- St. Joe’s has 8 full-time tenure-track professors and 2 professors emeriti with PhDs from some of the best universities in the world (Toronto, Leuven, Cambridge, Alberta, Catholic University of America)
- We have a team of 20-25 talented, dedicated ‘sessional’ instructors, many of whom have terminal degrees in their field and extensive practical experience as educators or educational administrators.
- Our professors and instructors have cumulatively published over 20 books and 80 articles in the last 7 years, many in the most prestigious academic venues in their fields.
What really animates St. Joe’s Academics is teaching. We are passionate about teaching within our context, to Alberta’s and Canada’s future leaders, and all our classes are UofA Arts options.
We teach approximately 2000 students per year across +/- 70 courses and these cover the gamut of religious education, biblical studies, moral theology, history of Christianity, philosophy, science and religion and beyond. Our students regularly speak to the transformative impact of these courses on their personal, academic, and professional lives. St. Joe’s is a gem at the UofA and in Alberta – for there is nowhere else in Alberta that students at a public research university, who otherwise would not be educated by remarkable instructors in Catholic thought, take such courses.
- Certificate in Catholic Education: This Certificate is a four-course sequence designed to introduce students to teaching in the Catholic primary and secondary system in Alberta. The Certificate ladders from general exposure to Catholic fundamentals (the first two courses treating, broadly, the Bible and fundamental catechetics) to pedagogical issues of how to teach within a Catholic district context. In sum, the Certificate provides a broad exposure to both fundamentals of Catholic doctrine and practical issues of how to teach in a Catholic context. We have signed MOUs with 11 of the 18 Catholic school districts in Alberta for the Certificate, which allows the Certificate to be considered a ‘hiring asset’ in our collaborating districts and helps connect potential teachers to recruiting districts.
- Minor in Christian Theology: In any given year, we have 30 to 40 minors in Christian Theology, which students choose to take as a supplement to their chosen course of studies at the UofA.
Campus Ministry, Chapel, and Residences:
St. Joe’s is a community with the larger UofA community, a place that many students call ‘home’ both literally and figuratively. We offer the only single-sex residences at the UofA, with spaces for 284 women in a newly built facility and 63 spaces for men in our historic building. These residences are a basic aspect of our community, as is our thriving campus ministry and chapel community. St. Joe’s offers daily mass and has 4 masses over the weekend, with 7pm Sunday mass catering in particular to St. Joe’s and UofA students.
St. Joe’s is a remarkable place at the heart of a major research university, where Canada’s future leaders can be exposed to the richness of Catholic thought and spirituality as they embark on the next phase of their lives. It is a place that, together with St. Mary’s University and Newman Theological College, benefits Catholic education in Alberta and the Church in Alberta and beyond.
Dr. Matthew Kostelecky is the Vice-President (Academic) and Dean of St. Joseph's College at the University of Alberta. He holds a PhD in philosophy from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, specializing in the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas, as well as a BA in philosophy from the University of Dallas. Prior to joining St. Joseph's College in 2009, Dr. Kostelecky was an Assistant Professor at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia.