Veritas Center Launches Student Fellowship
Fellowship aims to equip undergraduates to defend Church teaching in the public square.
October 19, 2018

STEUBENVILLE, OHIO—Responding to continued moral crises in contemporary culture, the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life has launched an undergraduate research fellowship for exceptional Franciscan University of Steubenville students who wish to bring faithful Catholic scholarly reflection to bear on the most pressing moral and ethical questions of the day.

“Franciscan has some of the most faithful and intelligent undergraduate students in the country, and the fellowship forum will only expand their professional and scholarly opportunities in the fields of government and politics, academia, law, and more,” said Dr. Anne Hendershott, professor of sociology and director of the Veritas Center.

Founded in 2013 at Franciscan University of Steubenville, the Veritas Center seeks to combat what Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI described as “the dictatorship of relativism” through research, writing, and academic conferences. The addition of an undergraduate fellowship adds to ongoing collaboration between Franciscan University students and Veritas Center faculty associates.

“To date, Franciscan undergraduates have collected and analyzed data on priestly ordinations and coauthored scholarly articles with Veritas faculty members on abortion and embryonic stem cell research,” Hendershott added. “The fellowship will strengthen these collaborations and encourage continued faculty mentorship with our most motivated students.”

Beginning during the fall 2018 semester, the undergraduate fellows will mirror the research endeavors of the Veritas Center’s visiting fellow. Through bimonthly discussions of common readings, in addition to workshop programs on scholarly writing, speaking, and publishing, fellows will develop a sophisticated and integrated understanding of key issues that affect society, and how natural law and Catholic teaching offer remedies in the interest of both society and the individual.

“In line with the Veritas Center’s commitment to scholarly reflection on ethics in the public life, student fellows will grow as future academics by engaging in frequent seminars so as to prepare for formal writing and speaking on their scholarly reflection on the Veritas topic for the year,” said Concetta Pilsner, undergraduate coordinator for the Veritas Center fellowship.

The first class of fellows includes 10 students, including 1 freshmen, 6 sophomores, 1 junior, and 2 seniors.

Sophomore Ava Montes, an English major, said the fellowship offers a great launching point toward many of her professional goals.

“The Veritas Center undergraduate fellowship represents an enormous academic and professional opportunity,” she said. “I really do think that taking part will help shape my future as a writer, as a person, and, most importantly, as a Catholic. I hope to be an honest voice in the media, and I know the Veritas Center will start me on this path.”

Following the direction of Dr. Ryan T. Anderson, the William E. Simon senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation and visiting Veritas Center fellow, this year’s undergraduate fellows will explore the biological, psychological, philosophical, and theological implications of the transgender movement, and how faith and reason offer compelling, compassionate solutions that preserve religious freedom and address gender dysphoria with holistic, rather than ideologically motivated, solutions.

“We anticipate that the Veritas student fellows will not only fully understand the challenges to Catholic teachings on sexual identity, but they will also be equipped and willing to defend these teachings in the public square,” Hendershott said.

In addition to intensive reading and research into issues such as a natural law response to gender ideology, fellows will study and apply the writings and documents of St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XIV to each year’s theme. Fellows will also work closely with scholarly mentors from across academia, including Franciscan University professors from various disciplines, to develop interpersonal, organizational, and research skills necessary for continued growth as public intellectuals.

The fellowship will culminate with the undergraduates participating in a panel discussion during the Veritas Center’s annual conference on April 5-6, 2019, at Franciscan University.

To learn more about the conference, as well as the ongoing research endeavors of the student fellows and faculty associates, visit the Veritas Center website or its Facebook page at

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