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First Things and Christendom College are pleased to invite our readers to Washington, D.C., for a memorable weekend of seminars and lectures on The Common Good. Participants will have the opportunity to explore texts alongside scholars and First Things writers and editors, discussing ideas and questions about education and the intellectual life in small-group seminar sessions.

There are no academic prerequisites for participation; no grades or exams. If you enjoy First Things or discussing the ideas found in its pages, this event is for you. Discussions will take place in small seminar sections with faculty from Christendom 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.


What is the place of the Common Good in political life? Since the Enlightenment a core political question has been how to balance the rights of the individual with the collective Common Good. Through this intellectual retreat and the reading curriculum—drawn from a variety of philosophical and religious traditions—participants will have the opportunity to reflect upon the nature and function of the Common Good. Participants will:

  • Develop a nuanced understanding of how philosophy and religion can mutually inform and shape our views on the common good.
  • Consider the future of the common good in light of classical and more contemporary commitments, diagnosing contemporary maladies and reflecting upon sources of renewal.
  • Reflect on human beings as workers, church members, families, and members of society ordered to the highest good.


Friday, June 7 

6:00 pm Cocktail reception  

7:00 pm Dinner & Lecture

Saturday, June 8

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

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, among others:

  1. Plato, Republic
  2. Augustine, City of God
  3. Yves Simon, Common Good and Common Action
  4. Russell Hittinger, “The Three Necessary Societies”
  5. F.A. Hayek’s The Mirage of Social Justice
  6. “The Pope, Liberty, and Capitalism” by Milton Friedman 


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 receptions and dinner lectures with First Things editorial staff and faculty from Collegium Institute. There are a limited number of scholarships available for graduate students or seminarians; please contact 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 Washington, D.C., 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: