Witherspoon’s Summer Seminars are a series of intense courses that examine different areas of human knowledge using the insights of the western ethical tradition, including the theory of natural law. This is the same tradition that gave rise to the notions of individual right and responsibility upon which the major socio-political institutions and traditions of western civilization were built, including the rule of law, free enterprise, representative democracy, and freedom of religion.
These seminars are unique in the contemporary academy: they demand serious engagement in moral inquiry, and they presume the existence of unchanging moral duties and goods that reason can discern in human nature. The Witherspoon Institute gives scholars and students the opportunity to discuss such matters free from the countervailing pressures of philosophical relativism (explicit or implicit) at contemporary universities.
Furthermore, we don’t simply teach content in these seminars―although we do that, too―we form persons. Our faculty model what good teaching looks like, how to seek the truth, how to patiently pursue the full truth even if it takes time, how to subject views (including one’s own) to rigorous criticism, how to be fair, and how to be courageous. The seminars don’t simply teach procedure and process, but examine the big questions about ambition, honesty, family, suffering, meaning, and the virtues, all the while welcoming opposing viewpoints and questions in a spirit of friendly collegiality. We are not looking only to guide intellects, but also to help young men and women become responsible, well-ordered, and intellectually courageous.
Applications for summer 2022 are now open. If you or someone you know is a high school, college, graduate student or young professional, learn more and apply!