Summer Seminars

For High School Students

June 11-17, 2023 • Rider University (Men) and Cairn University (Women)

Moral Life and the Classical Tradition
The Witherspoon Institute

The Moral Life and the Classical Tradition Seminar is a week-long program for rising high school juniors and seniors as well as rising college freshmen interested in the ancient philosophical tradition and its influence in the Christian moral life. The seminar is offered to both young men and young women, although their seminars take place separately (see dates above). Both the young men and the young women study two tracks:

1. Classical Moral Philosophy:This track explores Plato’s MenoSymposiumApologyCrito, and Euthyphro as well as selections from Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and Politics.

2. Contemporary Issues in Moral Thought: This track consists of discussions and readings on the foundations of Judeo-Christian moral tradition, including the relationship of faith and reason, the Judeo-Christian tradition and scientific inquiry, sexual ethics, marriage and family, and biomedical ethics.

Both courses will consist of a great deal of discussion and interaction between the students and the teacher; therefore, students are expected to be well prepared by reading and understanding beforehand the assigned readings. Readings for the seminar will be provided about one month in advance of the seminar. Classes will be supplemented with quiet time for study and with extracurricular activities such as sports, cultural outings, and opportunities for spiritual reflection.

The Moral Life and the Classical Tradition Seminar is a challenging intellectual experience that brings high school students into direct contact with serious scholars of the humanities.

Application deadline: February 15, 2023

Learn more and apply

For Undergraduate Students

 


June 27 – July 1, 2023

Natural Law and Public Affairs
The Witherspoon Institute
Princeton, New Jersey

The last several decades have witnessed a revival of natural law theory among English-speaking moral and legal philosophers. This ethical tradition of Aristotle and Aquinas offers a compelling alternative to the Kantian and consequentialist systems that have dominated modern moral philosophy. It also provides powerful rational defenses of moral principles often identified as Judeo-Christian, but common also to many great Muslim, ancient Greek, and Roman thinkers—indeed, principles dominant for centuries throughout the West.

This seminar will begin by engaging contemporary analytic work on the foundations and methods of natural-law moral reasoning. But the better part of it will be spent examining arguments that apply natural-law insights to a variety of moral and political issues, including religious liberty and the role of the state; justice in commerce and in communication; just war and capital punishment; abortion and euthanasia; and marriage and sexuality.

A recent participant says,

One of the strongest parts of the program were the intellectually stimulating readings and discussions that have real world applications. I enjoyed that the program was not discussing scholars from an ivory tower; rather, the program also emphasized current debates and action in public policy. 

This seminar is open to advanced undergraduates, graduate students, and young professionals.

Faculty:
Robert P. GeorgePrinceton University
Christopher TollefsenUniversity of South Carolina
Sherif GirgisThe Witherspoon Institute
Ryan T. Anderson, The Ethics and Public Policy Center

Application Deadline: February 15, 2023

Learn More and Apply


July 9 – 22, 2023

First Principles
The Witherspoon Institute
The College of New Jersey

This two week intensive seminar examines two topics central to the work of the Witherspoon Institute, namely, (1) the purpose of the university and (2) friendship and marriage. Unfortunately, these topics are often taken up from the vantage point of the culture wars, rather than from a patient, careful study of first principles. In these two weeks, we examine them from the background of philosophical anthropology, the metaphysics of the person, and a study of personal action and the human good. That is, from the perspective of the nature of being, the nature of knowing, and the nature of action, both the university and human relationships can be understood as having purpose and order insofar as they contribute to, and partially constitute, human flourishing. Absent a basis in a personalist anthropology, the university and human relations tend to seek alternative ends which are profoundly alienating and potentially destructive to persons and communities.

In the first week, the seminar examines traditional texts of metaphysics and epistemology as the backdrop for the university. In the second week, readings in human action and the human good provide a basis to examine friendship, sexuality, and relationship. Discussions are lively, vigorous, and socratic. The seminar includes guest lecturers and opportunities to interact with leading writers and public intellectuals in addition to regular faculty as well as cultural engagements with art, music, film, architecture. Participants will have the chance to explore Philadelphia and the historic and artistic opportunities the city offers.

Join students from around the country (and the world) in this intensive course on what it means to be a human who knows, acts, and loves.

This seminar is open to advanced undergraduates and graduate students.

Faculty:
R. J. Snell, Director of Academic Programs, Witherspoon Institute
David Corey, Professor of Political Science, Baylor University
Karen Taliaferro, Assistant Professor, School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, Arizona State University

Application Deadline: February 15, 2023

Learn More and Apply


 

For Graduate Students and Young Professionals

June 27 – July 1, 2023

Natural Law and Public Affairs
The Witherspoon Institute
Princeton, New Jersey

The last several decades have witnessed a revival of natural law theory among English-speaking moral and legal philosophers. This ethical tradition of Aristotle and Aquinas offers a compelling alternative to the Kantian and consequentialist systems that have dominated modern moral philosophy. It also provides powerful rational defenses of moral principles often identified as Judeo-Christian, but common also to many great Muslim, ancient Greek, and Roman thinkers—indeed, principles dominant for centuries throughout the West.

This seminar will begin by engaging contemporary analytic work on the foundations and methods of natural-law moral reasoning. But the better part of it will be spent examining arguments that apply natural-law insights to a variety of moral and political issues, including religious liberty and the role of the state; justice in commerce and in communication; just war and capital punishment; abortion and euthanasia; and marriage and sexuality.

A recent participant says,

One of the strongest parts of the program were the intellectually stimulating readings and discussions that have real world applications. I enjoyed that the program was not discussing scholars from an ivory tower; rather, the program also emphasized current debates and action in public policy. 

The seminar is open to advanced undergraduates (including graduating seniors), graduate students, and young professionals.

Faculty:
Robert P. GeorgePrinceton University
Christopher TollefsenUniversity of South Carolina
Sherif GirgisThe Witherspoon Institute
Ryan T. Anderson, The Ethics and Public Policy Center

Application Deadline: February 15, 2023

Learn More and Apply


July 9 – 22, 2023

First Principles
The Witherspoon Institute
The College of New Jersey

This two week intensive seminar examines two topics central to the work of the Witherspoon Institute, namely, (1) the purpose of the university and (2) friendship and marriage. Unfortunately, these topics are often taken up from the vantage point of the culture wars, rather than from a patient, careful study of first principles. In these two weeks, we examine them from the background of philosophical anthropology, the metaphysics of the person, and a study of personal action and the human good. That is, from the perspective of the nature of being, the nature of knowing, and the nature of action, both the university and human relationships can be understood as having purpose and order insofar as they contribute to, and partially constitute, human flourishing. Absent a basis in a personalist anthropology, the university and human relations tend to seek alternative ends which are profoundly alienating and potentially destructive to persons and communities.

In the first week, the seminar examines traditional texts of metaphysics and epistemology as the backdrop for the university. In the second week, readings in human action and the human good provide a basis to examine friendship, sexuality, and relationship. Discussions are lively, vigorous, and socratic. The seminar includes guest lecturers and opportunities to interact with leading writers and public intellectuals in addition to regular faculty as well as cultural engagements with art, music, film, architecture. Participants will have the chance to explore Philadelphia and the historic and artistic opportunities the city offers.

Join students from around the country (and the world) in this intensive course on what it means to be a human who knows, acts, and loves.

The seminar is open to advanced undergraduates (including graduating seniors), graduate students, and young professionals.

Faculty:
R. J. Snell, Director of Academic Programs, Witherspoon Institute
David Corey, Professor of Political Science, Baylor University
Karen Taliaferro, Assistant Professor, School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, Arizona State University

Application Deadline: February 15, 2022

Learn More and Apply


July 30 – August 5, 2023

Thomistic Seminar: Topic TBD
The Witherspoon Institute
Princeton, NJ

This seminar is open to graduate students in philosophy and related fields.

Faculty:
Candace Vogler, University of Chicago
Therese CoryUniversity of Notre Dame
Dhananjay JagannathanColumbia University

Application Deadline: February 15, 2023

Learn More and Apply