According to Seattle University’s website, the university offers numerous degree programs in many areas common to most higher education institutions; such as business, mathematics, education, science, etc. Emphasis within these broad subjects is also common to many other colleges and universities and include international, global, and national interests. The question lingers of what makes Seattle University unique. The university dedicates a page on its website focusing on the “Jesuit tradition.” Education at this university has the “Jesuit tradition” weaved into every course offered and makes earning an education at this institution very unique. While many bodies of higher learning sway with the wind regarding the format and content of their courses and teaching style, Seattle University continues to encourage and teach its students the Jesuit values of “seeking knowledge” and remaining inquisitive, while remaining up to date on the latest innovations in each area that degree programs are offered. The Jesuit tradition embodies a few components that make learning at the university advantageous. Seattle University’s education is affected by the Jesuit value of critical thinking and traditional American values of measurable achievement and analytical thinking.
The Jesuit values in education include acquiring knowledge and applying it for one’s “spiritual and personal growth to obtain balance” in several areas of one’s life. One of the university’s goals is to assist students with learning to make “ethical decisions and question commonly accepted knowledge” in their chosen field of study. The Jesuit tradition values critical thinking as a necessary skill needed in order to objectively analyze academic, religious, and/or moral quandaries. It is inferred that there is no limit to what critical thinking can be applied to. According to the text, critical thinking was categorized as a Western, or American, trait and encouraged an individual (or group of people) to “strip down an idea or theory, categorize its components,” and identify the causal components and their consequences “utilizing empirical data and facts” (Bennet and Stewart, 28). Critical thinking is valued in the Jesuit tradition because it allows a person to question and interpret long accepted knowledge or beliefs. Instead of accepting traditional thinking and status quo, the Jesuit tradition encourages people to assert their inquisitive nature. Instead of relying on perceptive reasoning, which due to its responses to “instantaneous stimuli” makes it ever-changing (Bennet and Stewart, 24), Jesuit tradition inspired critical thinking encourages students to question, think outside the box, and arrive at a reasoned conclusion rooted by fact and empirical data. Jesuit tradition critical thinking encourages individuals to not only rely on facts and data, but also “to hold that type of evidence to a higher standard of reliability than perception” (Bennet and Stewart, 42), which easily varies from one person to the next regarding the same instance. Critical thinking is used to gain and apply knowledge by trusting proven factual and numerical information more than the human faculties.
Seattle University champions the primary use of measureable achievements, such as various forms of empirical data, to thoroughly analyze problems and come to a conclusion through the Jesuit tradition. Instead of relying primarily on “primitive sensory data,” which is subject to constant flux making it unreliable (Bennet and Stewart, 25), critical thinking encourages the individual “to add depth and stability to an argument by seeking more concrete support.” The notion that sensory “perceptions are unreliable and that individuals possess the power to utilize their mental capacities to make decisions that will affect an outcome” is not a universal sentiment (Bennet and Stewart Bennet and Stewart, 23). The abstract idea that “perception is separate from reality” is not predominant in every culture and some cultures value “holistic, rather than analytic, interpretation” (Bennet and Stewart, 29). In cultures where analytical thinking is predominant, proven facts, research, empirical data, and experimental results are considered more stable than in cultures where this type of thinking is not held in as high regard. In some collectivist cultures, such as Chinese and Japanese cultures, a relational type of thinking is principal. Relational thinking takes “perception and experience into account and equates it with facts and figures” (Bennet and Stewart, 43). American critical thinking “promotes placing trust in sound facts and figures during the decision making process” to achieve a desired outcome (Bennet and Stewart, 29). American critical thinking techniques are categorized as “Western” and Japanese/Chinese decision-making techniques are described as “relational.” Relational thinking employs “analogies, metaphors, and similes since that type of thinking historically relies on sensory imagery” (Bennet and Stewart, 44).
Seattle University recognizes that there are diverse forms of thinking methods throughout the world and the coursework within different majors is developed to introduce and explore those methods to students. Specifically, within the Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration, International Business major, courses address basics which include typical introduction courses to acquaint students with subject matter. Then, other courses delve into spirituality, international communications, environmental factors, business, law, policies, and strategies that all require a global outlook. Since global awareness is imperative to success in these courses, students learn alternative viewpoints that can affect business transactions in various capacities. The content of the courses offered, along with the focus on retaining a pragmatic mindset, fuel the University’s “commitment to producing responsible, contributing adults.” With the ability to think for oneself, common procedures, strategies, and policies can be reconfigured to reflect global trends discovered through analysis of empirical data and facts. Also, the relational and conceptual viewpoints exhibited by other cultures can also be taken into consideration when modeling new business practices globally.
Bennet, Milton J. and Steward, Edward C. American Cultural Patterns. 2nd ed. Boston:
Intercultural Press, 1991. Print.
Jesuit Tradition. Seattle University. Web. 29 January 2016.