St. Thomas Aquinas Comes to the Ivy League
How an institute brings a taste of Thomism to secular campuses.
By Stephen Beale
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — One speaker took a “deep dive” into the Thomistic view of civil punishment. Another explored how St. Thomas Aquinas helps us to think about the possibility of life on other worlds. A third lecturer untangled the textual history behind the Hebrew word for God in the Old Testament.
It might seem like the kind of speakers one might see at a faithfully Catholic college — except this was the lineup of events this past spring at Brown University, an intensely secular Ivy League school in Providence, Rhode Island.
The events are hosted by the Thomistic Institute, a research institute of the faculty for the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C. Over the last three years, the institute has quietly made inroads on secular college campuses across the country, from MIT in Massachusetts to the University of California at Berkeley, introducing students to depths of a Catholic intellectual tradition in places where many people consider that to be an oxymoron.