The Witherspoon Institute

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Summer Seminars 2016

The Institute is pleased to announce its 2016 Summer Seminars for high school, undergraduate and graduate students, and young faculty. These intensive programs examine vital moral questions in social, philosophical, legal, and political thought and have attracted young men and women from across the world for over a decade. With discussions guided by leading scholars from the United States and Great Britain, the Summer Seminars comprise the core of the Institute’s efforts to assist the next generation of scholars in reflecting on truly human questions.

The seminars vary in length from four days to two weeks and are all held in Princeton, New Jersey, on the campuses of Princeton University and Princeton Theological Seminary. For more information about any of the seminars, visit the links to the seminar pages below. We look forward to seeing you in Princeton this summer!

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Spring 2016 Seminar: The Lincoln-Douglas Debates

Undergraduate students are invited to join in a weekly discussion of the Lincoln-Douglas debates in the Illinois contest for U.S. Senate in 1858 led by Professor Peter Field (University of Canterbury, New Zealand) and Dr. Matthew Franck (The Witherspoon Institute). The seminar will meet on Thursday afternoons a half dozen or more times this spring at the Institute’s Whelan Hall (16 Stockton Street).  Students will receive a free copy of the text, light lunch, mutual edification, and free registration at “Lincoln  and American Statesmanship,” a conference hosted by the James Madison Program in May.   Continue reading


2016 Simon Lecture: Bradley on “New Challenges to Religious Liberty: Today’s Issues in Historical Perspective”

Bradley2012The third annual William E. and Carol G. Simon Lecture on Religion in American Public Life, co-sponsored by the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, will be given by Professor Gerard V. Bradley on Thursday, March 3, 2016, at 4:30 p.m. in Lewis Library 120 on the Princeton University campus. Professor Bradley’s lecture will be titled “New Challenges to Religious Liberty: Today’s Issues in Historical Perspective.” Continue reading


Now available at
Essays on “The Thriving Society”

Thriving Society Front Cover

The Institute is so excited to announce the publication of our new collection of essays, The Thriving Society: On the Social Conditions of Human Flourishing. Available for purchase  in hardcover and eBook at, the volume is edited by Harold James (Princeton University) and James R. Stoner, Jr., (Louisiana State University).

Between the scylla of utopia and the charybdis of despair, the authors of these essays consider how modern society and its various institutions might be guided so that those who inhabit them might flourish. From a variety of perspectives and with diverse expertise, the essayists in The Thriving Society discuss foundational issues, institutional challenges, and controversial policies, from market freedom to family stability, from university culture to foreign affairs and public health. They neither supply a handbook for reform nor pen an apology for the past or the present. Instead, they launch citizens on a path to understanding how contemporary social practices sometimes facilitate and sometimes threaten human happiness–and so encourage citizens to think and act in responsible and innovative ways. Continue reading