(OSV News) – Ave Maria University is now offering “The Pursuit of Wisdom,” a series of free online courses presented by university faculty that provides practical wisdom and insights on interesting topics and themes to help Catholics contemplate the true, good and beautiful.

The series so far consists of seven courses, which can also be accessed at thepursuitofwisdom.org and via apps, and covers a variety of subjects with broad appeal. Each video course is between one to three hours and broken down into segments for ease of viewing, addressing such themes as artificial intelligence and computer science; motherhood and relationship; stewardship and environment; scholars and saints; and the foundations of America.

This is an undated photo of the campus of Ave Maria University in Florida. The university is offering “The Pursuit of Wisdom,” a series of free online courses presented by university faculty that provides practical wisdom and insights on interesting topics and themes to help Catholics contemplate what is true, good and beautiful. (OSV News photo/courtesy Ave Maria University)

The rapidly evolving and much discussed field of Artificial Intelligence, or AI, is one component of professor Saverio Perugini’s “An Introduction to Computer Science” course. He started the computer science program at Ave Maria last fall, which is now a major at the university.

“AI is a tool; it can be used for good and for evil,” Perugini told OSV News. “Like any tool in the world, it can be used for nefarious purposes and positive purposes.”

Perugini believes the ultimate goal of many AI developers is to not only try to eliminate pain and suffering – the goal of many technology developers over the past 100 years – but allow human beings to live forever.

“But unfortunately it’s trying to solve a problem that has already been solved; Our Lord has already given us the gift of eternal salvation. As Catholics, we believe we will live forever in heaven,” he said.

Perugini said that despite all the hype and fears of some who believe that AI will take over the world, “Christ came for humans, not for machines.”

Janice Chik Breidenbach, associate professor of philosophy, offers a three-part course on “The Philosophy of Motherhood.”

“This short course is what I consider the most important applied aspects of motherhood,” she told OSV News. “It’s not a niche topic for only women or Catholic women. I think motherhood is the most important relationship in society. The most important relationship in the cosmos is relationship with God. But motherhood, when we examine human society and community, is the most important relationship between persons.”

Before becoming a mother herself, Breidenbach said she held the mindset of many women in modern society, believing that motherhood was not a path she wanted to take and opting instead to focus on her education and career.

“Speaking from experience from someone who was not interested in motherhood, I’ve become a convert to motherhood and to parenthood,” she said. “The gift of co-creation that God has placed in our hands is a philosophical marvel to me. There was nothing in my life to prepare me for how metaphysically profound becoming a parent has been.”

In the course, “Stewarding the Environment,” biology professor Samuel Shephard speaks of environmental stewardship through a Catholic lens.

“The course is meant to be a conversation starter,” he said to OSV News. “The Catholic lens that I use is the idea of stewardship. The idea Pope Francis talks about in ‘Laudato Si’,” the way that if we start to talk about creation as opposed to nature, then we go from just being a part of a natural ecosystem — just being a creature among creatures — to creation which enables us to place ourselves in God’s loving plan. We’re caught up in salvation history.”

In creating awareness of what it means to be good stewards of creation, Shephard hoped that Catholics will enter more fully into the discussion of protecting the environment.

“I want people to have confidence. The church provides us with a really holistic framework for looking after creation,” he said. “God has given us an unequivocal imperative, to draw the rest of creation up towards God.”

Other courses in the initial series include, “The Foundations of America: U.S. Constitution” with Seana Sugrue; “The Genius of J.R.R. Tolkien” with Joseph Pearce; “The Wisdom of C.S. Lewis” with Michael Dauphinais; and “The Wisdom of Fulton Sheen” with James Patterson.

Ave Maria University plans to release more courses over the year and will continue to develop “The Pursuit of Wisdom” courses over time.

“We want to be a resource and a leaven for the life of the church and society,” Roger Nutt, Ave Maria’s provost and professor of theology, told OSV News. “Through these courses, we want to show the vibrant academic life of Ave Maria University through the excellence of our faculty to the outside world who may not know intimately the qualifications of our professors.”

Nutt says that what sets these courses apart are the Catholic professors who are experts in a wide range of disciplines who offer an invaluable depth of knowledge. He believes that viewers who avail themselves of “The Pursuit of Wisdom” series, in partaking of this wisdom, will have a better understanding of who they themselves are, and what they have to offer within the providential order.

“My hope is people will see their faith and their gifts and talents as part of God’s well-ordered and all wise plan,” Nutt says. “So that there’s a sense that in everything we do – whether a secular pursuit, or some form of work, or religious or devotional pursuit – it ought to be understood as a service of God within His all-encompassing wisdom.”

He adds that the overall hope with “The Pursuit of Wisdom” short courses is “to provide Catholics with edifying content that helps them to joyfully recognize the truth, beauty and goodness we all crave.”