The teaching of solidarity in Catholic higher education: Engaging hearts, transforming lives, changing society

Carl Boswell Procario-Foley, Fordham University


This dissertation examines how transformative religious education can serve as a valuable resource for teaching the notion of solidarity in undergraduate, Catholic higher education. Employing textual analysis and narrative inquiry, the researcher draws from contemporary religious educators, Catholic Social Teaching, and insights from recent college students who are interviewed for the study. Chapter one introduces the thesis and offers an overview of the methodology, resources, and the unique contribution of this dissertation. Chapter two analyzes the notion of transformation from the perspectives of James Loder and Jack Mezirow. Then, with special focus on the young adult experience, this chapter draws from the writings of Thomas Groome, Jane Regan, and Sharon Parks to explore further the dynamics of transformation. Additionally, a discussion of the seminal ideas of Paulo Freire, Daniel Schipani, Allen Moore and Suzanne Toton provide a perspective on key elements of social transformation especially as it relates to solidarity. In Chapter three, the study turns to Catholic Social Teaching for an examination of the evolving understanding of solidarity. This chapter explores ecclesial writings since Vatican II and theological perspectives on solidarity from the lens of liberation, feminist, and eco-theological scholars. In Chapter four, the researcher presents findings from interviews with fifteen recent college students concerning the meanings of solidarity and how their undergraduate educations have taught them about this rich notion. The final chapter offers a synthesis of the student perspectives on solidarity, the evolving meanings of solidarity in Catholic Social teaching, and the key contributions of transformative religious education. Proposing a heuristic model, the researcher contends that education for solidarity in undergraduate education is best taught when it considers each of the following components: the practices and theory of solidarity; the political and sacramental dimensions of solidarity; the active and contemplative components of solidarity, the public and sectarian language of solidarity, the individual and community perspectives on transformation for solidarity, and the justice and charity aspects of solidarity.

Subject Area

Religious education|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Procario-Foley, Carl Boswell, "The teaching of solidarity in Catholic higher education: Engaging hearts, transforming lives, changing society" (2011). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3455301.