Special identity

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The Tilburg Roman Catholic Business School was established in 1927 to serve a dual purpose: on the one hand, there was a widely felt need for an economics training institute for Catholics; on the other, Martinus Cobbenhagen felt that the vision of the Dutch College for Commercial Trade in Rotterdam, where he himself had been a student, was too technocratic. Based on the social teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, as framed in the encyclical Rerum Novarum (1891), Cobbenhagen saw economics rather as a social science that was allied with sociology and philosophy. Its view of society was a guiding principle, expressed in a curriculum that paid explicit attention to ethics and philosophy. From the mid-sixties onwards, the number of university students began to grow exponentially, just like the number of subjects that was to be taught. As the Catholics had done the catching up they had to do, and the religious decompartmentalization of society was in progress, the importance of having a Catholic institution for academic education in the social sciences lost its self-evidence. Lecturers in Tilburg were appointed for their expertise, and shrinking numbers of students were calling themselves Catholics.

A new name

In 2001, the University changed its name from Catholic University of Brabant into Tilburg University. From 2007 onwards, its subtitle, “Inspired by the Catholic tradition,” was gradually replaced by “Understanding Society.” The Catholic identity allowed the Tilburg School of Catholic Theology ‒ an independent foundation till 2007 ‒ to be integrated into Tilburg University. In the year 2017, the Catholic University of Brabant Foundation watches over the identity of Tilburg University, and philosophy is a curricular component of all study programs. Relations with the Catholic tradition are a special interest of the Academic Forum, a collaborative program of the Center for Science and Values and Studium Generale since 2011. As of 2015, the Tilburg Cobbenhagen Center also centralizes relations between the academic identity and the Catholic tradition.

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