Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Francis of Assisi: A Man of the 13th Century & a Man for the 21st Century

William Robert Cook, Daniel Schultz.

For all but the most antiquarian of scholars, the importance of the past is how it informs the present. However, sometimes there is a temptation to ignore the hard work of discovering the past and use only carefully selected pieces for shaping the present. If history is to be genuinely useful to the present, it must be carefully and scrupulously carried out through the most demanding research.
The discussion will begin with a brief sketch of what we know about the “historical Francis” and how he addressed the greatest challenges of his time. Only after knowing Francis as he was in the thirteenth century can we hope to make good use of his genius and his failures in our own time.
Professor Cook, who has taught for more than 30 years in New York State and in Italy, will lead a discussion of the message Francis brings to modern people, especially Christians but certainly not only Christians, in the developed world. Recently, Professor Cook taught about Francis to a group of American corporate executives in Florence and Assisi.
Mr. Schultz has recently done research in the field of liberation theology both at his university in the USA and in Peru. He has also studied about Francis of Assisi in Italy. Mr. Schultz will discuss his experience with both the theory and practice of liberation theology in Latin America and will expand on Leonardo Boff’s (a Brasilian liberation theologian and former Franciscan) concept of Francis as a model for human liberation in the developing world.


William Robert Cook  (United States)
Distinguished Teaching Professor
Department of History
State University of New York, Geneseo

Wiliam R. Cook holds the rank of Distinguished Teaching Professor of History at the State University of New York at Geneseo, where he has taught for 34 years. Cook is the author of five books including three on St Francis of Assisi, one published in Florence by Leo S. Olschki. He is considered the greatest living authority on the early art of the Franciscan Order. Cokk has lectured throughout the USA and in England, Italy, and the Czech Republic. He has been named the Professor of the Year for New York in 1992 and as the first winner of the CARA award for excellence in teaching by the Medieval Academy of America. He lives for part of each year in Siena, Italy.

Daniel Schultz  (United States)

SUNY Geneseo

  • Francis of Assisi
  • Liberation theology
  • Developing world
  • Developed world
Person as Subject
  • Francis of Assisi

(60 min. Workshop, English)