Catholic Social Tradition and the Capability Approach


Catholic Social Tradition and the Capability Approach: An Exploratory Workshop

The Capability Approach developed by Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum has emerged as one of the most influential contributions to development discourse in the 20th and the 21st centuries, influencing both grassroots NGOs and the development activities of the United Nations. Catholic Social Tradition (CST), although lesser known, has also played a major role in development work, especially within the context of Church-based and Church-led development initiatives.

This workshop will explore common ground and similarities—as well as crucial differences—between the Capability Approach and Catholic Social Tradition. An exploratory workshop, the dialogue aims to identify key questions and avenues for further research related to three primary areas:

  • Concepts of the person
  • The role of agency and freedom
  • Questions of community, social theory, and political philosophy

Organized by Paolo CarozzaPaul Kollman, C.S.C., and Clemens Sedmak, the workshop is sponsored by the Catholic Social Tradition and Human Development Working Group, a collaboration between the Kellogg Institute and Center for Social Concerns.

Open to faculty and students. For more information, contact Beth Simpson Hlabse. 


Registration deadline: Friday, January 27.


Workshop Schedule 

8:30–8:45 AM | Opening

Paolo Carozza, Director, Kellogg Institute for International Studies and Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame

​8:30–9:45 AM | The Human Person

Anthony DeCesare, Assistant Professor of Educational Foundations, St. Louis University


Clemens Sedmak, Visiting Professor of Catholic Social Tradition and Community Engagement, Center for Social Concerns and Keough School of Global Affairs, University of Notre Dame; FD Maurice Professor of Moral and Social Theology, King’s College London 

Ilaria Schnyder von Wartensee, Research Assistant Professor, Kellogg Institute for International Studies, University of Notre Dame 

10:00–11:00 AM | The Question of Agency and Freedom

Lori Keleher, Associate Professor of Philosophy, New Mexico State University


Rev. Robert Dowd, C.S.C., Associate Professor of Political Science and Director, Ford Family Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity, University of Notre Dame

11:15 AM–12:15 PM | The Question of Community and the Individual

Joshua Schulz, Associate Professor of Philosophy, DeSales University


Margaret Pfeil, Associate Professional Specialist in Theology, University of Notre Dame

12:15–12:45 PM | Plenary Discussion

12:45–1:30 PM | Lunch & Closing Remarks

Rev. Paul Kollman, C.S.C., Director, Center for Social Concerns and Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame


Scheduled event for: 

Catholic Social Tradition


Workshops and Seminars

Social Justice and Catholic Social Tradition