It has been well established and broadly recognized that, especially in our times, knowledge is power. On the physical level technological advances have replaced raw materials as the foundation of the strength of nations. In the social order "think-tanks" have become central to the effective exercise of political power. Most recently, an emerging awareness of the properly personal dimensions of life has directed attention to the conscious creativity of peoples, that is, to their culture and its values. Research in this area has become essential for any effective response to the problems of our times, as well as for opening new possibilities for life in the 21st Century.
Three events signal new attention to this issue. The first is the Centenary of The Catholic University of America (CUA), founded by the Roman Catholic Bishops of the United States to provide the advanced scholarship required in order for the Church to be an integral part of American culture. This is taking place at the same time as the second centenary of Georgetown University, the oldest of Catholic Colleges and Universities in the United States. The second is a study coordinated by the late Francis X. Gannon, Catholicism in America: Research Planning and Consultation Experience in America since Vatican II. This is being carried out by scholars in commemoration and celebration of the 25 years of statistically based research by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA). The third is a conference for Presidents of Catholic Universities and Colleges: "The Church and American Culture in the Post-Vatican II Era: The Challenge to the Catholic Intellectual Community". This was conceived by Donald S. Nesti, C.S.Sp., and Cassian Yuhaus, C.P., of Duquesne University and presented in collaboration with the Pontifical Council for Culture.
All three events underline the importance of research in the effort not only to achieve a mature cultural self-awareness, but to answer responsibly to the challenges we face for the future. This effort must depend centrally upon scholars in their university contexts, for it is there that extensive teams of specialists in the full range of disciplines have been brought together and supported. Though this has been done to serve as leaven in contemporary society, the random efforts of even large sets of individual researchers will not suffice--particularly when their best research efforts are being siphoned off by contracts from business, the military, etc.
It is time then to review steps which have been taken since Vatican II to provide coordination and orientation for this research mission of the universities and to begin to lay the foundations for effective work in the future. This volume seeks to contribute to this task by examining the challenge of research to scholars and universities. This will be done in four parts devoted respectively to the (1) nature, (2) structures, (3) agendas, and (4) implementation of research.
Part I provides the basic documents reflecting the emergence during the 1970s of a renewed understanding of the nature of the research role of universities in the Church and the n. Work by The International Federation of Catholic Universities (IFCU) in Paris, Salamanca and Grottaferrata stimulated a planning session by Presidents of the larger research-oriented Catholic Universities. This, not only founded an American coordinating committee, but contributed, in turn, to the design of IFCU's Coordinating Center for Inter-disciplinary Research. The opening section of this volume presents the related papers by Jean Ladrière, Edouard Boné, Louis-Philippe Bonneau, James S. Rausch, then Secretary of the NCCB-USCC, and George F. McLean.
Part II describes the two U.S. structures for the coordination of research which were developed at that time: (a) The Inter-University Committee on Research and Policy Studies (ICR), and (b) The Joint-Committee of Catholic Learned Societies and Scholars (CLS). Chapters V and VI describe their goals, structures and early activities. Chapter VII describes the Bibliographic Inventory of scholars which lists the 1,500 scholars who volunteered their specialized capabilities for a research effort in response to the invitation of Bishop Rausch, the ICR and the CLS.
Along with these coordinating structures a series of research agendas have been developed. These emerged from consultation of the scholars listed in the Inventory, from professional reflection by the ICR and CLS upon "The Call to Action" consultation of the American Church, and from international philosophical consultations. These four agendas are Chapters VIII-XI of Part III.
Part IV describes the actual implementation of related research by The Council for Research in Values and Philosophy (RVP). This began with the development of volumes by teams working on the philosophical, psychological, sociological and pedagogical foundations of moral education and character development (Chapter XIII). Interest by scholars and educators in other nations led to joint colloquia by members of the above teams with related specialists on a number of continents, some of which have produced volumes on the resources for moral education in the hispanic and Chinese cultures.
In order to bring out in detail the contribution of the cultural heritages to the needs of contemporary life sets of research teams of philosophers and related scholars have been organizing and at work on the different continents (Chapter XIV). Each team is developing a volume on one aspect of this issue in their culture. In some areas this is part of the effort at nation-building; in others it concerns modernizing without loss of cultural identity; in still others, East and West, it is an effort to humanize our increasingly rationalized physical and social life. The resulting sets of volumes will constitute an extended corporate examination of the resources in the various cultural heritages for a time of rapid change.
The following three chapters describe related sets of intensive exploratory discussions. One is the series of coordinating ten-week RVP inter-disciplinary and inter-cultural seminars being held in Washington on "Culture and Contemporary Issues" (Chapter XV). Another is a series of joint colloquia which has been taking place with the Academies of Science and universities in China and Eastern Europe over the last decade (Chapter XVI). The third is a series of twelve international conferences sponsored by The International Society for Metaphysics (ISM) (Chapter XVII) on the successive themes of person, society and culture, both implementing and reflecting the evolution of the deepest human concerns in these times.
These three efforts, along with those of the teams working on the cultural heritage and contemporary life project (Chapter XIV), converge in seeking new ways to envision the meaning of the person in society in a way that will reflect the identity of peoples and give them new life for new times. In vast areas of the globe this theme is central to recent efforts at social "reconstruction" or perestroika.
All this work is being carried out by scholars on a volunteer basis. This corresponds to the spirit of the times typified in Vatican II and articulated by researchers in the recent consultation reported in Part V. They saw research as a process of self-understanding and self-articulation emerging from the community, rather than decreed from above. In this light, research by scholars in the social sciences and social criticism takes its place alongside that in law, both positive and natural; and philosophy, hermeneutics and literature emerge as partners--handmaids no longer.
The institutions which appropriately are named "universities" have the range of scholarly resources required for this effort. Present indications of a growing determination on their part to respond to the need for research on culture and values gives founded hope for their evolution as centers, not only for the education of their students, but for the renewal of cultures.
George F. McLean