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Fully booked 500-seat class on St. Augustine raises conservative hopes

‘Kids are hungry for the true, the good, and the beautiful.’

A full-to-the-bursting course about Augustine’s Confessions at the University of Notre Dame is stirring up hope among conservatives online.

Many also see the spring semester class as evidence that students are hungering for more substance – and less progressive ideology – in higher education.

“The kids are hungry for the true, the good and the beautiful. Let’s give it to them,” wrote Erika Bachiochi, an Ethics and Public Policy Center fellow, in an X post this week that drew attention to the class.

Bachiochi said all of the 455 available seats are full in the one-credit class “Augustine’s Confessions and Spiritual Autobiography” at the Indiana Catholic university. The course listing on the university Registrar’s Office website confirms this.

“Hope springs eternal,” Bachiochi’s husband, Dan, wrote on X, sharing a photo of the full classroom. They said their daughter is one of the students taking the class.

Written around 400 A.D. by early Christian Bishop Saint Augustine of Hippo, Confessions is an autobiographical and theological work widely considered to be one of the most influential pieces of Christian literature in history.

In the course description, Assistant Chaplain Kevin Grove, also a professor of theology, said his class will examine Confessions, and students will be required to write a “spiritual autobiography essay.”

Many responded to the Bachiochis’ posts with optimism about students’ interest in the theological work, contrasting it with the progressive ideas that have infiltrated so many college campuses.

Joseph Backholm, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, said the full class indicates that many students want better from their universities.

“As modern/progressive ideas are shown through experience not to work, we should expect a renewed interest in old ideas as young people look for something better. We tend to learn the hard way, but eventually we will learn,” Backholm wrote on X.

The Rev. Brian Humphrey, a Catholic priest in Los Angeles, wrote on X that he believes examples like the full Confessions course show how many young adults are “looking to stand on solid ground.”

Other evidence of this can be found in the success of classical thinkers like Professor Jordan Peterson, record enrollment numbers at faithful Catholic colleges, enthusiasm about a renewed focus on open inquiry and free discourse at institutions like the University of Austin and the University of Florida, and student-based initiatives like the David Network that connect and encourage conservative students in “overwhelmingly liberal institutions.”

MORE: These classical teaching programs meet a growing demand

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About the Author
Micaiah Bilger is an assistant editor at The College Fix.