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The 5 Traits of a Jesuit Education


By Bisk

The University of Scranton embraces the five traits of a Jesuit education, continuing a tradition of Catholic education that dates back 500 years.


The 5 Traits of a Jesuit Education

Ite, inflammate omnia.

That’s how St. Ignatius Loyola sometimes ended his letters to fellow Jesuits – a Latin expression that translates to, “Go, set the world on fire.”

After being wounded in battle, Ignatius experienced an awakening that was the result of spiritual explorations while recuperating. The journey led him to found the Society of Jesus in 1540, also known as the Jesuits. He wanted his followers to be passionate about God and their mission.

The Jesuit tradition places great importance on education, particularly one that blends academic knowledge with spiritual learning. A Jesuit education aims for the development of the whole person by reaching the mind, heart and body.

At The University of Scranton, founded in 1888, Jesuit principles are intertwined through all courses and assignments, instilling a set of core values that nurture a passion for learning.

“We embrace the five traits or characteristics of a Jesuit education,” said Debra Pellegrino, Dean of the Panuska College of Professional Studies at the regionally accredited and nationally ranked university.

Pellegrino described the five traits as:

  • Passion for Quality: A Jesuit education is well-rounded and instills in students the knowledge that there is always another level of education to aspire to, as well as the discipline to pursue it. 
  • Embrace the Humanities and Sciences: Because a Jesuit education is well-rounded, students are encouraged to look at all subjects, especially the humanities and sciences, as these present different ways to examine our world.
  • Ethics and Values: By demonstrating ethical decision-making, Jesuit graduates present a solid moral example to others. In a 2000 speech, Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, then-Superior General of the Jesuit order, said the true measure of Jesuit education “lies in who our students become.”
  • God’s Work: By seeking God in everything, students obtain a worldview as it pertains to Catholicism and the Jesuit values.
  • Personal Care and Concern: St. Ignatius said, “Love ought to manifest itself in deeds rather than in words.” By demonstrating concern for each individual, and also by caring for yourself, you show your love rather than just speaking about it.

“The ethos, to me, means going for a deeper depth of understanding and first it starts with finding out about the God inside of you,” Pellegrino said. “That’s what it’s about at The University of Scranton. You don’t have to be Catholic, but to be at The University of Scranton, you’re seeing God in all things and everything that you do is for the greater glory of God, and with that comes a passion for learning and understanding and excellence.”

Sandy Pesavento, faculty specialist and professor of educational technology, agrees that ethics are an important part of the university’s ethos.

“When I think of ethos, I think of ethics or credibility, and here at The University of Scranton, our Jesuit background is to have excellence for all students in learning,” Pesavento said. “So that’s something you see throughout our instruction.”

Nationwide, there are 28 Jesuit colleges and universities and dozens of high schools educating young men and women, and Scranton’s purpose is to help form those men and women “for others,” Pellegrino wrote when she was named dean of the Panuska College.

“It is a great experience to have a Jesuit Catholic education,” Pellegrino said.

Through the work of dedicated instructors and administrators, The University of Scranton is preparing its students to go out and set the world on fire, just as St. Ignatius wrote to his followers almost 500 years ago.

Category: Education