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St. Norbert: The Man, the Movement, the MOOC

Join President Tom Kunkel and the Rev. Andrew Ciferni, O.Praem., to learn about St. Norbert of Xanten (c.1080-1134) and discuss how his life and legacy continue to influence the mission and operations of St. Norbert College in the 21st century.

About the Course
After his horse was startled by a lightning bolt, the young nobleman Norbert of Xanten was thrown to the ground. He awoke with a vision that led him to renounce his appointment at high court, give away his wealth and set out to preach peace, reconciliation and church reform. He left a legacy that, within a century, would spread internationally, with hundreds of abbeys established from Ireland to the Holy Land. How is this relevant today to the liberal arts college in De Pere, Wis. that bears his name? Join St. Norbert College president Thomas Kunkel and the Rev. Andrew Ciferni, O.Praem., director of the Center for Norbertine Studies, for five discussions that will uncover the answer.

Course objectives:

  • Identify the key contextual factors that gave rise to Norbert of Xanten's career and influence.
  • Reflect on the characteristics central to Norbert’s identity.
  • Describe the events that resulted in the formation of the Premonstratensian order of canons regular.
  • Determine the factors that significantly influenced the evolution of the order into the 19th century.
  • Clarify how Norbert’s influence lead to the formation of the college that bears his name, and how that influence is lived out today in the college’s mission.

View the course modules.

About the Instructors
Thomas Kunkel is the seventh president of St. Norbert College. He served for eight years as dean of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland. He spent much of his early career in newspaper management, working for such organizations as the San Jose Mercury News, the Miami Herald, the New York Times and the Cincinnati Post. He is the author of six books, most recently “Man in Profile: Joseph Mitchell of The New Yorker,” published by Random House.

The Rev. Andrew Dominic Ciferni, O.Praem., is director of the Center for Norbertine Studies at St. Norbert College. Ciferni is a member of the Norbertine community at Daylesford Abbey in Paoli, Pa. A 1964 graduate of the college, he holds a Licentiate in Sacred Theology from the Gregorian University in Rome, and a Ph.D. in Liturgical Studies from the University of Notre Dame. At St. Norbert College, he directs the Center of Norbertine Studies and teaches in the theology and religious studies discipline. He is a member of the editorial board for the book series Premonstratensian Texts & Studies.