Full course description

Course Date:

Jan 30 - Mar 6, 2017


5 weeks


2 hrs/week



Course Type:





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 weekly discussions that will uncover the answer.


  • Identify the key contextual factors that gave rise to Norbert.
  • Reflect on the characteristics central to Norbert’s identity.
  • Describe the events that resulted in the formation of the Premonstratensians.
  • Determine the factors that significantly influenced the evolution of the order into the 19th century.
  • Clarify how Norbert’s influence led to the formation of the college and how it’s reflected in the college’s mission.

Course Instructors

Thomas Kunkel

Thomas Kunkel

President, St. Norbert College

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.

Rev. Andrew Dominic Ciferni, O.Praem.

Rev. Andrew Dominic Ciferni, O.Praem.

Director of the Center for Norbertine Studies

Andrew Ciferni is a member of the Norbertine community at Daylesford Abbey in Paoli, Pa. A 1964 graduate of St. Norbert 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.