Our Founding Rector, John Henry Newman, came to Ireland in the 1850s with a vision for higher education, a vision he outlined in his book The Idea of a University, a vision that still informs the mission of University College Dublin today. This vision was for education in the fullest sense, the formation of the whole person, not just intellectual training, but developing moral wisdom and the skills and virtues needed to live a fulfilling, good and flourishing life, a life lived for others. “True enlargement of mind” is, according to Newman, beyond the acquirement of knowledge.

As he wrote: “It is the education which gives a man a clear conscious view of his own opinions and judgments, a truth in developing them, an eloquence in expressing them, and a force in urging them. It teaches him to see things as they are, to go right to the point, to disentangle a skein of thought, to detect what is sophistical, and to discard what is irrelevant.” He saw the university primarily as a “seat of wisdom, a light of the world, a minister of the faith, an alma mater of the rising generation”. He saw the university graduate as one who was open to all things: the student will have a “faculty for entering with comparative ease into any subject of thought, and of taking up with aptitude any science or profession”. “True enlargement of mind… thus is that form of Universal Knowledge… set up in the individual intellect, and constitutes perfection”.

Newman wanted the university to preserve and hand on the wisdom of past generations but also to be open to the future, to the advances in science, to modernity. He had a vision of students learning to be citizens of the world. He wanted to expose young minds to the liberal arts, to the sciences, and encouraged them to see the connections between things.

Above all, he wanted to set their hearts on fire. Cor ad cor loquitur – heart speaks to heart—was his motto.

Professor Dermot Moran – UCD School of Philosophy and Director of UCD International Centre for Newman Studies


‘True enlargement of mind’ is central to what UCD stands for. It’s the deeply held conviction that freeing the imagination and unleashing each individual’s unique potential will benefit the world at large. UCD would never ask any of its students to limit the scope of their thinking. In fact, we insist on the exact opposite. UCD invites and challenges its community to think bigger, to go further, to learn more and to go beyond expectations.

Think Bigger communicates a contemporary interpretation of ‘true enlargement of mind’ and acts as a rallying call for the university and our community. We set the challenge to go out and have a positive impact on the world.

Thinking Bigger is exactly how UCD behaves – in the quality and global reach of our research and academic expertise. University is not just about learning, it’s about exploring life’s possibilities and meeting global challenges.

It is about the power of the potential of the individual, and the power of the collective. It is about scale of achievement and endeavour, both historic and potential.

Think bigger, go further, learn more.

UCD. Think Bigger