In considering issues of public and global importance, social scientists are coming to an increasing recognition of the importance of religious belief in motivating particular attitudes and actions. If one of the tasks of academe is to articulate those values that are important in the public sphere, it must necessarily include careful discussion of the religious dimension of human existence. This paper addresses the issue of what a theological vision of wisdom might look like and its relevance in serving the public good in the context of a university. John Henry Newman's The idea of a university , proposed in the nineteenth century, gives some insights into what wisdom informed by theology might look like when applied to higher education. Prudence, or practical wisdom, as found in the medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas offers a mediating strategy between philosophical and theological approaches to wisdom. An argument will be put forward for a recovery of prudence as relevant for shaping the ethos of universities. In this, universities can also serve the public good and promote human welfare in contested areas such as environmental decision-making or new reproductive technologies.