Writing as a form of engaged scholarship and preaching is integral to the Dominican Tradition at Albertus Magnus College. From the inception of the Order of Preachers in the 13th century when Saint Dominic advocated a “pursuit of truth” through scholarly work and preaching, among other approaches (2-3), the Dominican Order has been committed to sharing the fruits of contemplation with others. Since it requires persuasion, knowledge of audience and clear communication, preaching requires a thorough understanding of rhetoric. At Albertus Magnus College, students are given many opportunities to improve their writing and understanding of rhetoric in foundational English classes as well as through interdisciplinary writing intensive classes, and this emphasis helps students develop as communicators as well as engaged scholars and potential preachers.
The development of rhetorical understanding is integral to the growth of a writer and therefore key to students’ ability to preach in an effective, compassionate and clear manner. Through their study of argument; audience; correct grammar; and the rhetorical appeals of logos, pathos and ethos, students learn to develop the sensitivity and ability to write effectively and persuasively. Therefore, students’ efforts to improve their writing skills and their understanding of rhetoric directly support the Dominican Heritage and help sustain the Dominican Tradition at Albertus Magnus College.
Requiring that students develop their writing skills is also a commitment to the Dominican value of engaged scholarship, which was advocated and embodied by Thomas Aquinas and Albert the Great, among many other Dominican saints and scholars (3). After all, writing enables scholars to both share the fruits of their contemplation with the world and connect with other scholars (7). Once scholars have contemplated – often through writing — they are able to share and communicate truths with others.
Students benefit from developing their writing skills and understanding of rhetoric even if they don’t pursue the life of a scholar. Students will need rhetorical understanding — knowledge of audience, subject, purpose, genre and context — whenever they write a cover letter for a job or a business memo to an office staff. The ability to clearly, effectively and wisely communicate is a worthwhile pursuit that will enable students to share their knowledge in an effective way in whatever field they choose.
Writing is therefore integral to our Dominican Heritage of preaching, students’ needs to develop scholarship and rhetorical understanding, and the practical education that Albertus Magnus College is dedicated to giving its students.
The Dominican Charism in Higher Education: A Vision in the Search of Truth. River Forest, IL: Dominican University, 2012. Print.