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Registration for the Intellectual Retreat is now closed.  To receive notifications about future retreats and other First Things events, please sign up for our newsletter using the form at the bottom of this page.

First Things is pleased to invite our readers to New York City for a memorable weekend of seminars and lectures on The Political Life. Participants will have the opportunity to explore texts alongside scholars and First Things writers and editors, discussing ideas and questions about the political life in small-group seminar sessions.

There are no academic prerequisites for participation; no grades or exams. If you enjoy reading First Things or discussing the ideas found in its pages, this event is for you. Discussions will take place in small seminar sections led by faculty from Northeast Catholic College. Participants will explore substantial texts and questions of great significance in an environment animated by a spirit of friendship and a common purpose.

This is a rare opportunity to get together with like-minded individuals to talk about big, timeless ideas and how they inform our understanding of the issues that occupy our culture today.


In this time of unexpected political change, questions concerning the future of our political order, the responsibility of individual citizens of faith, and challenges of integrating our political and religious commitments have taken on a new urgency. 
Participants in this retreat will have the opportunity to step back from the partisan disputes of the day and consider the deeper political questions that transcend the current news cycle.  Through dialogue undertaken in a common quest for wisdom, participants will consider these more fundamental questions against the background of transcendent commitments and a common recognition of the priority of first things.
Our readings and discussions will begin with ancient considerations of the relation between soul-craft and statecraft, the nature and purpose of politics, and how one political system can be destabilized and transformed into another.  We will continue by considering how Christianity both enriches and reorients the classical understanding of politics and the distinctive questions and challenges introduced by the American experiment.  Finally, participants will consider how we might best live as flourishing citizens of faith in the second decade of the twenty-first century.


The First Things Intellectual Retreat will be held from Friday evening, August 11 to Sunday morning August 13, 2017 at the NYU Kimmel Center for University Life.

Friday, August 11, 2017
6:00 pm Cocktail reception
7:00 pm Dinner & Lecture

The lecture will be delivered by Joshua Mitchell, Ph.D, professor of political theory at Georgetown University.  Dr. Mitchell’s research interest lies in the relationship between political thought and theology in the West. He has published articles in The Review of Politics, The Journal of Politics, The Journal of Religion, APSR, and Political Theory.

Saturday, August 12, 2017
8:15 am Continental breakfast (optional)
9:00 am - 5:00 pm Seminar discussions

15-20 participants per group
Lunch & scheduled breaks throughout the day

6:00 pm Cocktail reception
7:00 pm Dinner & Panel Discussion

Sunday, August 13, 2017
9:00 am Continental breakfast (optional)
9:30 am Musical performance, with remarks, by Helge Antoni.

Helge Antoni is a world-renowned pianist, and the first Swedish musician to be awarded a British Council Fellowship. Antoni’s creative programming and his personal approach to audiences have made him much sought-after worldwide, both in solo recitals and in concertos with orchestra.

11:00 am End of intellectual retreat

Dress code: Business casual attire for cocktail receptions and dinners. Casual attire for breakfast, lunch and seminars.


Reading materials will be emailed to participants upon registration, with a bound copy to follow by mail. The readings will include excerpts from the following texts:

  1. Plato, The Republic
  2. Aristotle, The Nichomachean Ethics
  3. Aristotle, The Politics
  4. St. Augustine of Hippo, The City of God
  5. St. Paul, First Letter to the Corinthians
  6. Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America
  7. Henry David Thoreau, “On Civil Disobedience”
  8. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The First Circle
  9. Josef Pieper, The Four Cardinal Virtues
  10. R. R. Reno, Resurrecting the Idea of a Christian Society

All participants will attend all seminars through the course of the day, in the following order:

1st Seminar: Soulcraft and Statecraft

2nd Seminar: The Two Cities

3rd Seminar: The American Experience of Politics

4th Seminar: The Present Moment


Participants are responsible for their own accommodations. A block of rooms has been reserved at the Marriott Manhattan/SoHo, near the location of the retreat.  In order to take advantage of the group discount, call 800-321-2211 and reference the First Things Intellectual Retreat Room Block at the Manhattan SoHo Courtyard by Marriott. You can also book online by clicking this link. The last day to book at the discounted rate is July 14, 2017.


Cost: $650 per participant

You may make a deposit of $350, with the balance due at the event, or pay in full in advance. The fee covers seminar tuition, assigned text materials, and all meals, including two cocktail reception and dinner lectures with First Things editorial staff and faculty from Northeast Catholic College. There are a limited number of seats available for graduate students or seminarians; please contact us for details.

Companion tickets are available at $100 per ticket for participant companions who would like to attend the evening receptions and dinner lectures but are not attending the day seminars.

To register, please use the form below. Check the corresponding box to either make a partial deposit or to pay in full, and to purchase a companion ticket, if required. If you are registering three participants or more, please re-use the form to register one to two seminar participants at a time—let us know who the members of your party are by writing their names in the Comment Box. Please also use the Comment Box for any special requests, such as kosher or vegetarian meals, wheelchair access, etc.

If you would like to mail your registration, please include the same information along with your check and mail it to:

First Things
Attn: Intellectual Retreat
35 East 21st Street, Sixth Floor
New York, NY 10010

You may also register by telephone at 1-212-627-1985, or contact us at

Please note: The registration fee does not include travel to New York City or hotel accommodations.

Retreat Cancellation Policy: For a full refund of tuition fees, please cancel with at least three weeks advance notice from the event’s date. We reserve the right to substitute speakers, change venues, cancel seminars, or cancel part of or the entire event, due to circumstances beyond our control. In such cases, our liability is limited to a prompt refund of the registration fee, on a pro-rata basis, for the affected days.

In partnership with:

Northeast Catholic College

Northeast Catholic College