The course begins with a survey and analysis of Medieval political-social-economic ideas with emphasis given to Aquinas' treatise on kingship and the best form of government using scripture and reason as twin guides.
Feudal social structures including solidaristic business practices, the guild system, land policies, and prohibitions against economic competition as well as against usury are impartially analyzed.
The latter two are studied in conjunction with demographic shifts, the birth of towns, and the rise of a new bourgeois business class in opposition to the aristocracy. The relationship of these political and economic changes to Reformation religious changes is examined.
This examination is followed by a study of modern descriptive politics leading to the abandonment of "virtue" as a guiding political concept beginning with Niccolo Machiavelli. Students will then study "Contract Theory" from the the writings of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean Jacques Rousseau, which led to further dissolution of the Medieval synthesis.
Other factors that contributed to this dissolution will be studied such as the French and American Revolutions, Mercantilism, the Industrial Revolution, and then Social, Economic, and Political, Liberalism followed by Socialism and Communism.
The course culminates with a study of Christian social teaching beginning with Leo XIII's "Rerum Novarum" and ending with Benedict XVI's "Caritas in Veritate".
Emphasis is given to the relationship among ethics, politics, economics, charity and justice. Understanding is enhanced by a close study of primary documents and by the use of an integral methodology, including empirical science, philosophy, and theology, throughout the course.