The Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, New Jersey (where I work) is now accepting applications for seven summer seminars, on topics ranging across ethics, politics, law, medicine, religion, and metaphysics, for every age cohort from high school students to young college faculty. Brief descriptions follow, with dates, faculty listings, application deadlines—and links for more information.
Medical Ethics: A Natural Law Perspective (June 12–18, 2016) is a seminar for students of medicine that will examine the most important ethical questions that arise in the everyday practice of medicine, including freedom of conscience, proportionality, human dignity, sexuality and reproduction, and life issues. Faculty: Christopher O. Tollefsen (University of South Carolina) and Farr Curlin (Duke University). Application deadline: April 15.
Moral Life and the Classical Tradition (Women: June 19–25, 2016; Men: June 26–July 2, 2016) is a seminar for rising high school juniors and seniors interested in the ancient philosophical tradition and its influence in the Christian moral life. Topics will include the nature of philosophy, the relationship of faith and reason, the Judeo-Christian tradition and scientific inquiry, sexual ethics, marriage and family, and biomedical ethics. Women’s faculty: Ana Samuel (Witherspoon Institute) and Janice Chik Breidenbach (Ave Maria University). Men’s faculty: Micah Watson (Calvin College), John Rose (Princeton Theological Seminary). Application deadline: April 1.
Natural Law and Public Affairs (July 13–17, 2016) is a seminar for advanced undergraduate and graduate students. It will consider natural law moral reasoning and its application to a variety of moral and political issues, including religious liberty, economic justice, just war and capital punishment, abortion, euthanasia, and marriage and sexuality. Faculty: Robert P. George (Princeton University), Christopher O. Tollefsen (University of South Carolina), Ryan T. Anderson (Heritage Foundation), Sherif Girgis (Witherspoon Institute). Application deadline: March 15.
First Principles: Natural Law and the Theologico-political Question (July 17–30, 2016) is a two-week seminar for advanced undergraduate and pre-dissertation graduate students, focusing on the relation between natural law and the theologico-political question, that is, the question of the best way of life, enshrined in the best laws, supported by the best form of political regime. Readings will be drawn from Thomas Aquinas, Thomas More, Eric Voegelin, and Pierre Manent. Faculty: Thomas D’Andrea (Cambridge University), Geoffrey Vaughan (Assumption College), Gerard Wegemer (University of Dallas). Application deadline: April 1.
Church and State Seminar: Religion and Liberty in the American Founding Era (July 24–30, 2016) is open to untenured faculty and post-doctoral scholars in history, political theory, law, and religion (dissertation-stage doctoral students will also be considered). It will examine the relationship between religion and politics in the period of the American Revolution, founding, and early republic by exploring primary sources including charters, constitutions, and legal texts, sermons, pamphlets, essays, speeches, debates, and religious texts. Faculty: Daniel L. Dreisbach (American University), Thomas S. Kidd (Baylor University), Gerald R. McDermott (Beeson Divinity School, Samford University). Application deadline: April 1.
Moral Foundations of Law (July 31–August 6, 2016) is a seminar for students of law and jurisprudence. It will consider the relationship between morality and civil law, covering the history and development of legal theory, the positivism-natural law debate, constitutionalism and the judiciary, the nature of punishment, and contemporary social moral debates in the law. Faculty: Gerard V. Bradley (Notre Dame), John M. Finnis (Oxford and Notre Dame), Robert P. George (Princeton University), Matthew J. Franck (Witherspoon Institute), and Adam J. MacLeod (Jones School of Law, Faulkner University). A federal appeals court judge will join the seminar as guest lecturer one afternoon. Application deadline: April 1.
The Thomistic Seminar: Aquinas and the Philosophy of Nature (August 7–13, 2016) is open to graduate students in philosophy and related disciplines. This year’s seminar will examine the study of nature, unity and diversity, substance and causality, time and creation, physics, and biology in the works of Thomas Aquinas. Faculty: John B. Haldane (Baylor University and St. Andrews), Sarah Broadie (University of St. Andrews), Edward Feser (Pasadena City College), Robert Koons (University of Texas), and Candace Vogler (University of Chicago). Application deadline: March 31.
Matthew J. Franck is director of the William E. and Carol G. Simon Center for Religion and the Constitution at the Witherspoon Institute, professor emeritus of political science at Radford University, and visiting lecturer in politics at Princeton University.