About Us

The Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies at USC is the only institute of its kind in the world.

Established to create dialogue, spark ideas, inspire deep thinking, and support important and profound interdisciplinary, interfaith research rooted in the rich Catholic intellectual tradition, the Institute is dedicated to the idea that an ongoing examination of our world from a Catholic perspective is a mission infinitely valuable to both Catholics and the broader public.

The Institute is dedicated to developing a distinctive intellectual capital through the study and application of the long and rich Catholic intellectual tradition — a tradition that includes not only brilliant theologians and philosophers, but also scientists, social scientists, historians, poets, writers, artists, architects and musicians. The Institute promotes understanding, critiquing, and developing Catholic intellectual life for the service not only of the Church, but all religions, especially as it dedicates itself to the common good.

Led by a lay board of directors that reflects the world in which we live – business leaders, academic leaders and leaders from the Catholic tradition and faith – the Institute is led by IACS President Fr. James Heft, a Marianist priest and historian, who conceived of the Institute as a way to preserve and advance the theological, philosophic and artistic contributions that Catholics and the Catholic Church have made to the today’s world.

The Institute is located on the campus of, and receives support from, the University of Southern California (USC), one of the world’s premier research institutions.

“Our affiliation with USC is critically important to the mission of the Institute,” explains Fr. Heft. “Here, on this campus, we are situated in the center of one of the largest, most diverse, and most vibrant Catholic communities in the world, among the best and the brightest academicians and intellects living today, and at the heart of Los Angeles, the most culturally and religiously diverse city in the world. I can think of no better place from which to launch the programs and conduct the research the Institute was created to produce.”