Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


School of Education


Educational Leadership


Catholic Educational Leadership EdD

First Advisor

Michael Duffy

Second Advisor

Ursula Aldana

Third Advisor

Erin Brigham

Fourth Advisor

Graham McDonough


This case study evaluates the current relevance of how Catholic identity is conceived as an evaluative tool in accreditation processes. Catholic identity, though a concept inconsistently defined among various international contexts, is nevertheless utilized reductively as criteria for K-12 Catholic school accreditation in the United States, primarily through the framework of the National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Schools (NSBECS). Using the example of a secondary school with an explicit Catholic charism-based commitment to environmental sustainability, this dissertation collects qualitative data in an exploratory manner to evidence how schools that may seem insufficiently Catholic according to currently utilized frameworks may yet truly be Catholic in mission and educational praxis, especially in light of the growing body of Catholic social thought. The case study suggests that the prevailing narrow conceptions of Catholic identity set forth in standards of evaluation are inaccurate, if not detrimental, to the educational objectives of some Catholic schools, and further proposes a novel conceptual framework, “Charism identity,” in an attempt to articulate and express a wider array of Catholic identity expression in dynamic Catholic school settings. The study indicates that a Charism identity approach allows schools more mission flexibility to discern and respond to the “signs of the times” in a prophetically-oriented and authentically Catholic manner. Keywords: Catholic identity, National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Schools, sustainability, mission, school culture, Catholic social thought, Laudato si, charism, Charism identity.