A flourishing university

Newman’s emphasis on academic matters did not come at the expense of the broader aim of educating for human excellence, because he sought to inform the University by moulding its ethical atmosphere, its attitude to the world, and its approach to social education.

In applying the concept of integrity not just to the person, as Aristotle had done, but to the university, Newman asked himself, How can a university have a rich and full life? What needs to be put in place to foster both corporate and individual well-being? For Newman this was not just about intellectual flourishing, but also a moral question. He was concerned about how the student should live and how the university should be structured to make such living possible so as to provide an integral formation. He followed Aristotle in holding that ‘it is impossible, or at least not easy, to perform praiseworthy actions without external means’, and that training was necessary to develop moral and intellectual virtues (Rise and progress of universities). Hence genuine human flourishing at university required the assistance of the moral and religious discipline of the collegiate house (or its equivalent) and the personal influence of tutors (or their equivalent).

Newman knew that intellectual and moral virtues were best developed in a community which embodied such an educational ideal, as attendance at such places and the influence of its teachers would furnish the students with correct principles of thought and action.

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