Philosophical Vision Statement
The Philosophical Vision Statement of Wyoming Catholic College sets forth and clarifies the fundamental philosophical, religious, and educational principles underlying the mission of the College. Originally written by Dr. Robert Carlson in 2004, it was updated with two appendices written by Dr. Jeremy Holmes in 2012.
In the early stages of planning in 2004, the original founders of Wyoming Catholic College realized that a college has the moral duty to explain clearly what it stands for. Consequently, they asked Dr. Robert K. Carlson, one of their fellow founders, to write this philosophical vision statement, which was officially adopted by the Board of Directors of the College in 2005. The two appendices by Dr. Jeremy Holmes, approved by the Board of Directors in January, 2012, expand on two important aspects of the College adumbrated in this vision statement, namely, our Outdoor Leadership Program and our Technology Policy.
In the vision statement, Dr. Carlson considers it necessary to discuss the philosophical and religious underpinnings, the occasion for the College, and the nature of liberal education. He then orders this discussion to three purposes: the immediate, the proximate, and the final. The immediate purpose is the development of physical, moral, and intellectual virtues; the proximate purpose is the acculturation of our students—which makes them true citizens of Western culture; and the final purpose concerns happiness and the role that liberal education plays in helping the students achieve it.
Wyoming Catholic College takes its distinction from the landscape that is both its location and its symbol. Situated in the foothills of the Wind River Range, the college is grounded in the strata of ancient wisdom and inspired by belief in an ascent to truth discoverable by effort and discipline; here the ancient Western tradition of the liberal arts merges with the uniqueness of the American West. Faculty and students alike rejoice in the beauty that surrounds them and in the generous givenness of creation. In an age when individuals are encouraged to believe they are sovereigns over their private worlds, the curriculum looks outward to perennial shared realities, both in nature and in the riches of culture.
Freshmen begin their studies with a three-week experience of the mountain wilderness that awakens wonder and poetic insight. They deepen their understanding through horsemanship. In the classroom comes insight: they experience the illumination of imagination and intellect through the classical Trivium, the Great Books, and the traditional disciplines of thought, including literature, philosophy, and theology. The great ideas—like nature itself, never old, never outdated—come down from the heights with an essential freshness, and when students experience that promise, it changes their expectations from mere economic comfort to real felicity. The intellectual experience of “the best that has been thought and said” allows them to see reality whole rather than in narrow specializations. Daily encouragement in the liturgy and devotions of the Catholic Church, including its rich musical forms and its visual art, provides them an opportunity afforded to few in the contemporary world: to know Jesus Christ through beauty and to grow in the interior life.
WCC’s calling, its charge as a college, is to ennoble its students, to prepare them for the heroism and humility they will need in order to bear witness to the complex nature of the truths they learn. Throughout their four years, on horseback or backpacking in the Tetons, directing a seminar or defending an argument, they take their turns as leaders. Both in the outdoors and in the classroom, they also learn to follow attentively, without rancor or complaint. In every aspect of the education at WCC, they face personal challenges and form deep friendships in conversation with faculty and classmates who share their ideals and encourage their noblest hopes. As our Philosophical Vision Statement says, “Wyoming Catholic College is devoted exclusively to providing its students with a true liberal education, which aims at an intrinsic rather than extrinsic end, is general rather than specialized, prepares a person for leisure rather than work, and creates a free man capable of leading a good life.” The Western tradition understands leisure as the basis of culture, and by leisure it understands “the cheerful affirmation by man of his own existence, of the world as a whole, and of God,” as Josef Pieper puts it. Leisure alone is truly free, and from this Sabbath arises the “special freshness of action” that characterizes WCC students.
Graduates of Wyoming Catholic College are prepared to thrive in any career they choose, but they will bring more than professional competence to whatever they do. They will be engaged in the contemporary world as ambassadors descended from the high homelands, and they will help reshape the culture by their creative fidelity to the rock on which our civilization was founded.