“To whom much has been given, much shall be required.”
Intellectual gifts are a sacred trust to cultivate and invest in God's work in the world.
A Message from the Director
"Welcome to Westmont—I’m delighted that you are exploring the possibility of joining our community of scholars. The Augustinian Scholars Program (ASP) offers a four-year honors curriculum committed to academic excellence. It aims to challenge, support, and connect academically gifted students, helping them faithfully cultivate the gifts that God has given them and working to prepare them to then invest these gifts faithfully in the world. Several features distinguish the Augustinians from other honors programs. First, in addition to academic rigor, the program is explicitly oriented towards Christian formation—believing that the life of the mind in pursuit of truth is inescapably tied to the life of faith and the pursuit of the One who is Truth. Second, rather than creating a separate honors college, the ASP operates integrally within the wider college, enhancing scholars’ engagement with the rich intellectual and relational opportunities within the remarkable community that is Westmont College. And third, while many of our scholars will go on to lead and make prominent contributions to their communities and to the world, the focus of our efforts is on faithfulness: answering God’s call to steward our giftings well--wherever that may take us. We believe that to whom much is entrusted, much is expected. We look forward to exploring with you whether this might be the context in which you seek to faithfully steward your gifts."
Director, Augustinian Scholars Program
Augustinians begin their Westmont career with a two-semester course sequence on Augustine and the Christian intellectual tradition. The fall seminar— “Faith Seeking Understanding” —provides an introduction to the liberal arts and the idea of scholarship as a Christian calling. Together, the scholars mine the riches of the Christian tradition to understand how rigorous academic inquiry—the pursuit of truth—involves a lifelong journey closely linked to spiritual commitments and personal formation. After building this foundation, Augustinians move into the spring semester course, “Pilgrim Citizens,” to understand how to serve society, including churches, families, neighborhoods, and broader political arenas. Scholars explore questions of calling and vocation in pursuit of faithful citizenship, activities, and service involvements.
During these first two semesters, scholars can anticipate a demanding yet stimulating agenda of classical and contemporary readings, writing assignments, seminar discussions, guest lectures, external activities, and opportunities for spiritual formation. The two-semester sequence will fulfill three of Westmont’s General Education requirements—Philosophical Reflections, Understanding Society, and Writing-Intensive—which helps scholars make progress toward graduation.
In their second and third years, Augustinians enroll in one-unit honors seminars (at least one per year) on a range of topics, including good stories, vocational calling, interpersonal relationships, the Church, stewardship, and encountering creation. They deepen their ongoing connection and intellectual fellowship within the program while gaining opportunities for spiritual formation, service and preparation to launch well from college—all with sufficient flexibility for students to pursue diverse majors, off-campus programs, athletics, etc.
In their final year, scholars share an integrative capstone experience that provides sustained reflection on ASP themes as they get ready to graduate from Westmont.
"Coming into Westmont, I knew that the Augustinian Program was almost a perfect fit for my personal learning style. I best connect with God and with people through good, meaningful, intellectual discussion—yeah, I’m a bit of a nerd. I was surprised, however, by how much those intellectual discussions were integral to my spiritual, emotional, and relational growth, especially my first year of college. The questions we were pushed to ask each other and then hash out both inside and outside the classroom pointed us into the core of our humanity, relationship with Jesus, and personal identities—some of my best friendships were forged in those discussions. Alongside my new life-long friends, the greatest gift the Augustinian Program gave me was intellectual humility. I learned that, rather than humbly sharing the answers you do know, true intellectual humility is constantly seeking the truth while realizing and admitting that you don’t know the answers at all. The program helped me move past what began as a shallow search for knowledge, ultimately sourced in a desire for control, into the joy of exploration: seeking truth in the nuance and mystery of our humanity and our God.”
“This program has been a blessing and a testimony to God’s goodness in my own life. I came into college aware of desiring growth in my interpersonal connections and my professional aspirations; however, God also had something else in mind and brought me here to integrate and deepen my intellectual and spiritual desires. From a basic standpoint, the curriculum of ASP was built on a very different framework than what I grew up learning in high school-- I had never taken a philosophy or theology class and the ASP program was definitely a steep learning curve. However, going through the rigorous program with other students allowed me to forge some great friendships and also set the tone for how I wanted to make sense of myself and the pursuit of a meaningful life with God. More than anything else, the ASP has been a catalyst and a stepping stone for me to understand my interests at a deeper level and its intersections with other disciplines. As I look back, these four years together have been a sweet, fruitful, and humbling experience of genuine intellectual inquiry and I am excited to see how this unfolds into the rest of my life.”
"This program has taught me that I have power in my daily life as a college student, even if I’m still finding places where it exists, and how to harness any influence that I am gifted with. The funny thing is that the program has done exactly what it was supposed to do without me realizing it, and even in spite of some resistance on my part. During my first year, I found myself frustrated with the way that the class offered many difficult, intense questions, but comparatively few answers. By the end, I was burnt out and rather closed off. During my second year, though, as I found myself enthusiastically engaging in thoughtful discussions in my free time, I realized that the program had given me the most valuable resource of all: a community where I could wrestle with questions of place and direction. Many of my friends in the program have blessed me by listening well, by asking thoughtful questions, and by affirming me. I don’t know how many of my questions have been answered. There are always new questions that form. What I do know, though, is that I have the personal and communal tools to think about them well. "
Uses a laser to study solid-liquid interfaces; also loves sharing liturgical worship with students.
Enjoys engaging non-Western religions and learning about the changes brought about by Christian transformations in church and society worldwide.
Conductor and composer who studies the intersection of music, theology, and culture.
As a clinical psychologist, Dr. Gurney cares deeply about soul care and whole-person spiritual formation, particularly the ways in which pursuit of Kingdom habits leads to human flourishing.
As a pastor and leader who has worked to proclaim the gospel and train disciples for over 3 decades, Dr. Lisea believes Jesus and the Kingdom of God are really good news and he is endlessly wondering about what it means for every part of our lives.
Studies ethics, epistemology and the philosophy of religion (especially where these intersect) and admires C.S. Lewis.
Studies early Christian literature and theology; wealth and poverty in early Christianity; Greco-Roman medicine and early Christian healthcare.
Teaches and writes on Christian liberal arts, Christian apologetics, religious epistemology, and Christian spiritual formation.
Lectures and writes on Christian doctrine and theology.
- IS-010H Honors: Augustine and the Christian Tradition I: Faith Seeking Understanding.
- This course offers an introduction to higher education as a Christian calling, exploring the pursuit of truth as a lifelong journey that is closely linked to spiritual commitments, communities, and formation. By engaging with primary texts, seminar discussions, interdisciplinary guest speakers, and written communication, students are introduced to select thinkers in the Christian intellectual tradition, including St. Augustine of Hippo, the North African bishop renowned for his contributions to Christian thought. (4 units, G.E.: Philosophical Reflections)
- IS-020H Honors: Augustine and the Christian Tradition II: Pilgrim Citizens.
- Thematically grounded in St. Augustine's rich theology of the two cities, this course draws from the Christian intellectual tradition to enrich students’ understanding of society, its institutions, and their callings to love both God and neighbor. Using a pilgrimage framework, the course invites students to pursue increasingly faithful citizenship through reflective participation in activities and service. (4 units, G.E.s: Understanding Society, Writing-Intensive [combined with 010]).
- IS-030H—Honors Seminar: Stories Worth Telling: provides a context to explore and enjoy a good story (biography, fiction, history, etc.) together, focused on one or more narratives chosen by the instructor in light of her/his interests and/or expertise. (1 unit)
- IS-031H— Honors Seminar: Calls Worth Answering: offers an opportunity for inquiry into the ideas of Christian vocation, application of those ideas to students’ lives, including structured opportunities for service and post-college preparations. (1 unit)
- IS-032H— Honors Seminar: The Global, Local Church: inquires into the past, present, and/or future of the Christian Church, exploring dimensions of both its universal and local nature, and its unity and diversity (relative emphasis will vary). (1 unit)
- IS-033H— Honors Seminar: Interpersonal Relationships: explores facets of human relationship in interdisciplinary Christian perspective. Emphases may include friendship, marriage, children, professional, etc., explored from theological, psychological, historical, philosophical, literary, and/or sociological perspectives, etc. (1 unit)
- IS-034H— Honors Seminar: Stewardship: explores the human calling to steward finite resources of the created order, including natural resources, time, and money (targeting NBS majors, but accessible broadly). (1 unit)
- IS-035H—Honors Seminar: Encountering Creation: explores ways of seeing, understanding, and enjoying the created order from an interdisciplinary perspective. (1 unit)
- IS-036H—Honors Seminar: Topics: advanced inquiry in a subject area proposed by the instructor (1 unit)
Senior ASP Honors Seminar (2 units)