FOR GRADUATE STUDENTS
Enhance your studies with opportunities that encourage the application of fundamental principles of republican government and ordered liberty to contemporary problems.
Every summer, the Witherspoon Institute offers several seminars to graduate students in philosophy, politics, and theology. Those wishing to study New Natural Law theory can do so under some of its most renowned proponents, such as Robert P. George, Christopher Tollefsen, Ryan T. Anderson, and Sherif Girgis in the Natural Law and Public Affairs Seminar. Students interested in studying university education with metaphysics, epistemology, and teleology as a backdrop, as well as those interested in studying friendship and marriage grounded by a personalist account of action, should apply to First Principles. The Thomistic Seminar has Candace Vogler as its director, with Anselm Mueller and Therese Cory among its faculty. Every year, the Thomistic Seminar has a different unifying theme, with the philosophy of nature, philosophical anthropology, and practical rationality among the past themes.
As Candace Vogler, professor of the Thomistic Seminar, observed about the timeliness of bringing analytic philosophers into conversation with Aquinas when discussing practical reason, we live in an extremely “fractious” and divided society. However, “if we can have a sense of how people are reasoning, there’s some possibility that we can begin to have a sense of where we can find common ground.” She continues:
I’m in a country where I don’t agree with a lot of my fellow citizens, where it is difficult to think about how we can have reasoned disagreements in a way that is respectful and civil. One of the nice things about studying practical rationality is that it reminds us that we have this common share of reasoning that opens up the possibility of finding common ground with people around me, for learning how to engage with them and talk with them [….] This is incredibly important on university campuses these days; it’s incredibly important in the larger sphere of public life.
According to Vogler, Witherspoon’s summer seminars are “equipping students to carry [this approach] forward in their work: in their research and in their teaching.” We want them to flourish, to live life nobly and well, and to invite others into the project of building a society that supports such flourishing for all.