SOME FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
NEW TO WITHERSPOON? WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE SEMINARS?
For the last six years, the Witherspoon Institute has sponsored non-credit seminars for Princeton students. Any Princeton student—undergraduate, graduate, PTS—is warmly invited to attend.
We read important texts about important questions—classic and contemporary—in the attempt to find wisdom, to know how best to live and think and act so as to live well and flourish. And we try to seek for wisdom collegially, with friends willing to engage good questions seriously, with any point of view considered. And, we almost always provide a meal!
If you study at Princeton or Princeton Theological Seminary, you’re invited to join us. It’s a good place to meet new people, share a meal, and converse together. Your political commitments, religious beliefs (or absence of belief), college, and eating club don’t matter to us—in fact, we rather like when participants approach a text or question in different ways and with varying concerns. The search for truth is hardly a solitary activity, after all.
We meet around a dining room table, share a meal and some conversation for about 30 minutes or so, and then read and think together for an hour. It’s informal—some people come in late, others leave early. It’s a seminar, so be prepared to ask questions, make arguments or interventions, and be prepared to have others ask questions of you. We’re seeking wisdom together, and that means we have to inquire with and of each other—and to listen to and learn from each other. We value collegiality and friendship, and seminars are generally pretty relaxed.
Seminars meet at Whelan Hall, that yellow house at 16 Stockton Street in Princeton. It’s a two-minute walk from Rocky College.
Friday lunch seminars begin at 1:00 pm, but people often show up at 12:45 pm to eat and relax. At around 1:30 we’ll get into the text, finishing by 2:25 pm.
Wednesday seminar dinners begin at 6:00 pm, with some arriving a little before or afterwards. At 6:30 or so we’ll begin discussion and finish by 7:30.
We want participants to come to as many sessions as they can. If that’s every week, great; if you can only come occasionally, that’s fine, too. Come when you can—and bring a friend to try it out.
We provide readers and/or books for the seminars, and encourage participants to read ahead of time. But we understand that school comes first. So, if you didn’t get a chance to read ahead it’s not a problem—come anyway.
No. We don’t charge anything. We value hospitality, so if you have special dietary needs, or keep kosher, or need other accommodation, we’ll do our best to provide what you need and to make you feel at home.
We also host occasional dinners with faculty members, cultural trips to NYC or Philly for the museum or a concert, and we cover all the costs for those events as well (train, tickets, food), although we have to limit the number of participants for those events to keep costs manageable.
We love liberal education, books, inquiry, collegiality, and intellectual friendship. We’re committed to the idea that human flourishing is possible, and that the pursuit of truth with fellow-travelers is an aspect of that flourishing.