Ninth Annual Summer Seminar: The Care of the Soul

The Care of the Soul:
Re-Thinking Virtue in the Contemporary World

Socrates says that he wanted to help his fellow Athenians to “take care of their souls.” He wanted them to think of the moral life not in terms of the wealth and prestige they could gain from it, but in terms of how their souls were formed or deformed by it. He wanted them, before all else, to cultivate moral virtue and good moral character in themselves. He stands at the origin of a rich tradition of thought about virtue.

In this seminar we want to enter in to this tradition, and to ask: What is it to be a person of integrity? What does it mean to have a well-formed character? Why is it so vital for one to live an authentic existence? The ancients do not mention authenticity, nor do the great medieval teachers. Is it a real virtue? If so, what does it consist in, and how does it fit in with the classical and the Christian virtues?

Max Scheler, Dietrich von Hildebrand, Karol Wojtyla, and other early personalists asked all these questions, and answered them with great originality. We will listen to them, as well as to other voices in our tradition, from Plato, Aristotle, Augustine and Aquinas, to more recent figures, such as Kierkegaard, Buber, Soloveitchik, and Levinas, as we work toward an understanding of virtue and character that is adapted to the historical moment in which we live.

The seminar assumes no previous knowledge of these works, and is open to all intellectually serious men and women who want to enter into the intellectual and spiritual world of Dietrich von Hildebrand, John Paul II, and their tradition, and to think with them about the current questions of our day.  

Schedule of Sessions

Click here for a full schedule with times.

Saturday July 6: Virtue in the Tradition

1. Beginning with Socrates

2. A Look at the Traditional Virtues

3. The Virtues of the Saints

Sunday July 7: What Hildebrand and Personalism add to the Tradition
1. Self and Other
2. Further Personalist Contributions to the Tradition on Virtue

Monday July 8: Virtue Today – Part I
1. Authenticity – Part I

2. Authenticity – Part II

3. Virtue and Gender

Tuesday, July 9: Virtue Today – Part II
1. Virtue and the Social Fabric

2. Is Hope Still Possible Today?

3. Closing Panel (issues selected by faculty and submitted by participants)

Wednesday, July 10: Education and the Virtues*
1. Education that Lasts

2. Intellectual Virtues in the Information Age

3. Disagreement without Demonization

4. Distraction in the Digital Age

5. Reception and open interview with Bob Luddy on his vision for Thales Academy

6. Closing dinner

*Directed by Tim Hall and sponsored by Thales Academy.

Writing & Presentation

In addition to plenary presentations, small groups, and tracks, attendees will have the opportunity to further delve into seminar themes through written reflection. On the second to last day, attendees will submit brief papers (1,000 words) commenting on a new idea or point of disagreement encountered during the seminar. Faculty will review papers and invite 4-5 attendees to present their reflections to the entire group on the final day. All attendees are expected to participate in this written component.

Summer Seminar Faculty

John F. Crosby is Professor and Director of the MA Program in Philosophy at Franciscan University. He has published extensively on the philosophy of the human person. He was a student and friend of Dietrich von Hildebrand, and during his ten years teaching at John Paul II's Pontifical Institute for Marriage and Family in Rome was deeply formed through personal and philosophical encounters with the Holy Father. He is a Senior Fellow at the Hildebrand Project, which he co-founded. His latest book is The Personalism of John Henry Newman

Rabbi Mark Gottlieb is Senior Director of the Tikvah Fund and founding Dean of the Tikvah Institute for High School Students at Yale University. Prior to joining Tikvah, Rabbi Gottlieb served as Head of School at Yeshiva University High School for Boys and Principal of the Maimonides School in Brookline, MA and has taught at The Frisch School, Ida Crown Jewish Academy, Hebrew Theological College, Loyola University in Chicago, and the University of Chicago. He received his B.A. from Yeshiva College, rabbinical ordination from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, and an M.A. in Philosophy from the University of Chicago, where his doctoral studies focused on the moral and political thought of Alasdair MacIntyre. Rabbi Gottlieb is a member of the Orthodox Forum Steering Committee and serves on the Editorial Committee of Tradition: A Journal of Orthodox Jewish Thought.

Tim Hall is Director of Operations and Academics of Thales Academy which one of the largest private school management organizations in North Carolina. He is the author of several textbook supplements, curriculums, standards, and several popular history texts including The Complete Idiot’s Guide to World History (Penguin, 2nd edn 2012) and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Middle Ages (Penguin, 2009). He was the course administrator of the MOOC on Kierkegaard at Coursera entitled “Søren Kierkegaard: Subjectivity, Irony and the Crisis of Modernity.” Some of his recent research focuses on the philosophy of Kierkegaard and non‐cognitive education which was published in a shorter form in Wiley- Blackwell’s Companion to Kierkegaard and religious literacy and diversity in education which is in development.As an educator, Dr. Hall has taught AP World History, AP European History, AP Psychology, and Medieval Studies. He has received numerous awards, including two schoolteacher studentships to Oxford University for curriculum development and research fellowships to the Kierkegaard Library at St. Olaf College in Minnesota. Dr. Hall has also collaborated with the College of William and Mary in Virginia in the development of curriculum materials for the teaching of the principle of separation of church and state in American history as an extension to a National Endowment for the Humanities seminar in which he participated.

Derek S. Jeffreys is a professor of Humanities and Religion at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay. He teaches courses in the humanities, ethics and the philosophy of religion. His research focuses on personalism and violence, with a particular emphasis on punishment and incarceration. He is author of Defending Human Dignity: John Paul II and Political Realism  (Brazos Press, 2004), Spirituality and the Ethics of Torture (Palgrave, 2009), Spirituality in Dark Places: The Ethics of Solitary Confinement (Palgrave, 2013), and America’s Jails: The Search for Human Dignity in an Age of Mass Incarceration (NYU Press, 2018). He is currently working on issues related to hope and mental illness in penal institutions.

Rob McNamara was educated at the National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) and Maynooth (NUIM), where he studied physics and applied science, and philosophy and theological studies, respectively, at the International Theological Institute (ITI), Austria, where he completed a master's degree in the theology of marriage and family, and at Liverpool Hope University (LHU), United Kingdom, where he completed a doctorate in philosophy with a dissertation in philosophical anthropology detailing Edith Stein’s engagement with the thought of Thomas Aquinas in her mature philosophy of the human person. Robert currently teaches philosophy and theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville, and is usually based at their study abroad campus in Gaming, Austria, and is an associate member of faculty at Maryvale Institute (MI), United Kingdom, and the Priory Institute (PI), Ireland, and a founding member of the Aquinas Institute of Ireland, for which he currently holds the position of secretary, and at whose annual summer schools he tutors. Robert is originally from Galway, Ireland.

Josef Seifert received his doctorate in philosophy from the University of Salzburg in 1969 and, under Professor Robert Spaemann, his habilitation from the University of Munich (Privatdozent) in 1975. He studied chiefly under Balduin Schwarz, the most distinguished German former student of Dietrich von Hildebrand, at the University of Salzburg, and under Gabriel Marcel in Paris. Since his childhood (from age 3 on) he knew Hildebrand personally, because Seifert’s mother had been a student of Hildebrand in Munich and both of his parents were Hildebrand’s friends. He is the author of many books, and Europe’s leading student and teacher of Hildebrand’s philosophy.

Elizabeth C. Shaw is assistant director for special academic programs at the Ciocca Center for Principled Entrepreneurship in the Busch School of Business and a lecturer in the School of Philosophy at Catholic University. She also teaches philosophy for the Catholic Distance University. She has worked on a number of projects with the Hildebrand Press and is associate editor of The Review of Metaphysics and the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Quarterly. From 2009 until his death in 2017, she was research assistant to Catholic intellectual Michael Novak. Elizabeth received a Ph.D. in philosophy from Catholic University as well as a B.S. in mathematics from Georgetown.

Anne Snyder is the Director of The Philanthropy Roundtable‘s Character Initiative, a program that seeks to help foundations and business leaders strengthen “the middle ring” of morally formative institutions in the United States. Her first book, “The Fabric of Character: A Wise Giver’s Guide to Supporting Social and Moral Renewal,” will be published in March of 2019. She is also a Fellow at the Center for Opportunity Urbanism, a Houston-based think tank that explores how cities can drive opportunity for the bulk of their citizens, and a Senior Fellow at The Trinity Forum. From 2014 to 2017 Anne worked for Laity Lodge and the H.E. Butt Family Foundation in Texas, and before that she worked at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, World Affairs Journal and The New York Times. She holds a Master’s degree in journalism from Georgetown University and a B.A. in philosophy and international relations from Wheaton College (IL). Anne is a Contributing Editor to Comment Magazine, an advisor to Sea Dog Theater and serves as a trustee for the Center for Public Justice, the Hyde Park Institute, and the Colangelo Carpenter Innovation Center. She has written for The Atlantic MonthlyThe Washington PostNational JournalCity Journal and a wide variety of other publications.

Mark K. Spencer is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of St. Thomas. He earned his Ph.D. from the University at Buffalo, and  his M.A. and B.A. from Franciscan University of Steubenville, where he  first encountered the work of Dietrich von Hildebrand. In his research, he focuses on topics like the human person, beauty, and God's relations to us. In over thirty articles, he has brought together many approaches to these topics, including Thomism, Scotism, phenomenology, personalism, and Greek patristics. He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota with his wife, Susanna, and their four children.

Hildebrand Project Faculty

JHC Portrait John Henry Crosby is a translator, writer, and cultural entrepreneur. Under his leadership, the Hildebrand Project has become the world’s leading organization dedicated to Dietrich von Hildebrand’s legacy. His work has been featured in both popular (e.g., The Daily Beast) and scholarly publications (Logos). His numerous radio appearances have taken him from PRI's The Takeaway to the Hugh Hewitt Show. He was host of He Dared Speak the Truth, a 13-part television series on the life of Dietrich von Hildebrand, which aired on EWTN (2014).

Christopher T. Haley is Director of Publications and Marketing at the Hildebrand Project, where he manages the Hildebrand Press and communicates Hildebrand’s philosophical witness to new audiences. He studied philosophy and ancient languages at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Dallas. He is a frequent guest on a number of Catholic radio shows and has published broadly on topics in art, culture, and Catholicism, with a special interest in the work of Edith Stein. 



The Hildebrand Project’s annual Summer Seminar is an intensive immersion program in the philosophy of Dietrich von Hildebrand. Since 2011, it has brought together students, scholars, and professionals who wish to understand the contributions of Hildebrand and the broader traditions he represents (notably Christian personalism and realist phenomenology) in addressing both perennial and pressing philosophical questions. 

Alongside Hildebrand, seminars may explore the thought of Karol Wojtyla, Max Scheler, John Henry Newman, Søren Kierkegaard, Edith Stein, Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, and others. 

The seminar offers both introductory and advanced sessions, designed for both new and advanced students. A schedule of plenary sessions and special tracks allows participants to concentrate on areas most relevant to their own interest, studies, and practice.

Hildebrand Project events are intellectual and convivial. Participants are sent a list of reading materials upon acceptance, which should be completed before the start of the seminar. The days are devoted to seminar sessions, while the evenings are free—and often devoted to wine, music, and conversation.

There will be an opening reception on July 5 and a closing banquet on July 10.

How to Apply

The seminar is open to anyone who wishes to explore the nature and significance of character, virtue, integrity, and authenticity, including especially:

  • Undergraduate and graduate students
  • University and high school professors 
  • Artists, writers, musicians, and architects 
  • Teachers, educators, and administrators 
  • Seminarians and clergy 

The application process is based on interest but subject to space limitations. Applications will be reviewed on a weekly basis, so we encourage you to apply early.

The application window ends on May 1. The last day to apply with financial aid consideration is April 15.

The application is online here

We encourage faculty to nominate students to attend. Nominations will serve in lieu of letters of recommendation. The online nomination form is here. The last day to submit nomination is April 15.

Room, Board, and Travel

The seminar will be held on the campus of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where participants will be lodged in university housing. Professional participants also have the option of staying at the Franciscan Square Inn at their own expense (there is a discounted seminar rate available). Participants will have access to the university library, internet, and other basic amenities. All costs for room and board are included in the seminar fee.  

Travel to and from Pittsburgh International Airport will be provided. Parking will be available on campus for those who drive.

Fees and Scholarships

The fee covers room, board, and reading materials for the length of the seminar. Attendees are asked to pursue all possible funding sources as fees play a critical role in making the seminars possible. Attendees whose participation is contingent on financial support may request a scholarship when applying. To be considered for a scholarship, applicants must submit a letter of recommendation or receive a nomination. 

Student: $550

Professional (dormitory housing): $1,500

Professional (no dormitory housing; attendee covers hotel accommodations at the special seminar rate of $110/night): $1,250

Special rate for Franciscan University of Steubenville students: $199 (with housing) / $99 (without housing).


July 5 - July 11, 2019


The full schedule is now online here.


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Franciscan University of Steubenville

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