Saint Xavier University Chicago Campus

Center for Religion and Public Discourse


The Center for Religion and Public Discourse at Saint Xavier University sponsors a number of programs and activities to promote scholarship and informed discussion about the common good in the context of faith, organized belief systems, spirituality, ethics, and values.

Consistent among the Center's varied programs and activities are the following:

Pub Discourse

Pub Discourse is a focused but informal gathering led by a Saint Xavier University faculty member, staff member, or administrator. Pub Discourses are open to all SXU faculty, staff, and administrators, as well as occasional invited guests.

In the company of their colleagues, participants engage in a sometimes sophisticated, sometimes whimsical exploration of complex and timely topics. Pub Discourse, an experience of the University's core values of hospitality and learning for life, promotes the integration of a liberal arts education and the discussion of religion, ethics, and values.

Squeaky Weal Lecture Series

The Squeaky Weal Lecture Series promotes thoughtful consideration and civil discourse on the religious, moral, and/or ethical implications of public issues, with a consistent focus on the common good.

Through these lectures, which are free and open to the public, the Center fosters the "dialogue between faith and reason" among all members of the University community and extends that dialogue to the wider community. Students are introduced to educational opportunities beyond the classroom. Faculty and staff members have the opportunity to interact with public figures and recognized experts in a variety of fields. Members of the general public are welcomed to the campus and afforded opportunities to learn from and reflect with others on a broad spectrum on contemporary topics. All have the opportunity to focus on the interplay of faith and life.

The Sweeney Family Lecture

Launched in 2011, the annual Sweeney Family Lecture is made possible by a generous gift endowment from the John and Barbara Sweeney Family to the Center for Religion and Public Discourse. Past chair of the Saint Xavier University Board of Trustees, John P. Sweeney wished to enhance the Center's efforts to bring notable speakers to SXU for substantive, lively, even "edgy" presentations and discussions on topics that would range across the liberal arts and sciences, provoke thought, deepen the educational experience of students, and engage both members of the University community and members of the general public.

Women in Islam (2006)

In November 2006, the Center for Religion and Public Discourse and the Office for Mission and Heritage at Saint Xavier University sponsored a two-day conference entitled, "Women in Islam: Comparative Perspectives and Challenges." Supported in part by grants from the McCormick Tribune Foundation and the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, the Conference attracted over 150 participants and featured nationally prominent Islamic scholars whose presentations explored the historic role of and contemporary challenges for women in Islam.

Major presenters included Scott Alexander, Ph.D., associate professor of Islam at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago; Kecia Ali, Ph.D., assistant professor of Islamic Studies at Boston University; Marcia Hermansen, Ph.D., director of the Islamic World Studies program and professor of theology at Loyola University Chicago; Ingrid Mattson, Ph.D., director of the Macdonald Center for Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations and professor of Islamic Studies at Hartford Seminary; and Francis Tiso, Ph.D., staff member in the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and liaison to dialogues with Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, and Reformed Christian denominations.

Portraits of Women in Islam: Comparative Perspectives and Challenges, the proceedings of the Conference, was published in 2009.