The Theologian’s Dilemma: Catholic Studies as Disruptive Innovation

Matthew Lewis Sutton


Theologians hesitate to support the innovation of Catholic Studies at their institutions because it represents a different type of innovation that is non-incremental and disruptive. The metric for evaluating Catholic Studies programs by theologians (and often administrators) is flawed. Specifically, theologians and administrators make sustaining innovations in their Theology departments that support the concentration of academic power and capital in their department for overseeing the university’s religious mission. The result is that, in many ways, this concentrated power tends toward not generating majors and minors, not fulfilling the integrated religious mission of the university, and not developing attractive skills in students for the next season their life. If Catholic Higher Education wants to maximize its return on its mission-critical value, the theologian must stop behaving as if its either a strong Theology department or a strong Catholic Studies program.

Using the latest developments in the Disruption Theory of the Harvard Business School Professor, Clayton Christensen and also the Eschatology of the important twentieth-century theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar, I will argue that the theologian’s judgment of Catholic Studies needs to engage the disruptive innovation of Catholic Studies in its self-destructive, constructing-future of the new reality of the Catholic University.


Catholic Studies; Theology; Disruption Theory

Full Text:



  • There are currently no refbacks.

◎ Best viewed with Internet Explorer 8, FireFox, Chrome, Safari 5.1.7 or higher