Eighth Annual Summer Seminar: Love, Sex, & the Human Person

Love, Sex & the Human Person

The contemporary situation of love, sexuality, and marriage gives rise to pressing questions about the nature of the human person. Are there enduring truths about love and marriage? How is the person revealed in their sexual being? Can a Judeo-Christian vision of marriage be persuasively communicated in a pluralistic context? 

Our 8th Annual Summer Seminar will look to the philosophical anthropology of Dietrich von Hildebrand and Karol Wojtyla/John Paul II to provide a foundation for thinking about love, sex, and marriage today. Both men sought to articulate a vision of the human person at once consistent with the deepest impulses of the Christian tradition and also informed by new philosophical thinking that recognized the importance of the human subject. 

Hildebrand broke new ground in his 1927 book, In Defense of Purity, wherein he examined the embodied person with stunning originality, presenting a positive and comprehensive understanding of purity. Fifty years later, John Paul II presented to the world his Theology of the Body, one of the most original and enduring parts of his legacy. In Hildebrand and John Paul II, we find a vision of the human person that offers a beautiful and convincing answer to contemporary questions about love, sex, and purity. 

In addition to core texts from Hildebrand and John Paul II, seminar readings will draw from a number of sources, including (but not limited to) Plato and Aristotle,  St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, Max Scheler, Edith Stein, and Alice von Hildebrand, as well as contemporary authors such as Roger Scruton, Leon Kass, and Joseph Soloveitchik. 

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 Hildebrand, John Paul II, and their tradition, and to think with them about the current questions of our day. 

Special Tracks

In addition to the plenary sessions on Love, Sex, & the Human Person, participants select one of four special tracks, which will provide an opportunity to look more deeply into particular ideas and applications.

(1) A Pedagogical Approach to Love and Responsibility: The critique of millennials is inaccurate. Young people today do spend too much time looking down at screens, but when they look up, they are bright and ready to learn. You can get them to look up, and when they do, they are open to learning about anything, including genuine morality. This track will focus on a set of pedagogical principles that have worked in bringing college students into thoughtful and meaningful engagement with the moral vision of human sexuality presented by St. John Paul II/Karol Wojtyla and Dietrich von Hildebrand. Some discussion of Benedict XVI (Deus Caritas Est) and C.S. Lewis (The Four Loves) will also be included. Examples of in-class dynamics, discussions and written work will be presented to fill out the real-life picture of this educational pedagogy.

(2) The Metaphysics of Gender: In this track, participants will reflect on the nature of masculinity and femininity, considering their metaphysical foundation and how they structure the being of the human person. This will lead naturally to a discussion of topics such as feminism, marriage as the union between man and woman, and the nature of fatherhood and motherhood. We will refer to the writings of Edith Stein, Gertrud von le Fort, and John Paul II, and to essays commenting on their work.

(3) Contemporary Thinkers: This track will explore the work of recent figures whose thought on love, sex, and marriage stand in fruitful relation to that of Dietrich von Hildebrand and Karol Wojtyla/John Paul II. Special attention will be given to the work of Roger Scruton, Leon Kass, and Joseph Soloveitchik. 

(4) Leadership: Designed for those entrusted with leadership, including donors, nonprofit leaders, board members, and executives, this track is  devoted to exploring theories of change, and the application of Hildebrand/JPII’s vision of love, sex, and human person in the spheres of philanthropy, culture, and education. 


Peter J. Colosi is assistant professor of philosophy at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island. From 2009-2015 he was assistant/associate professor of moral theology at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia, and from 1999-2007 he was instructor/assistant professor of philosophy for Franciscan University of Steubenville at its campus in Gaming, Austria. He earned his BS in mathematics from Franciscan University, an MA in Franciscan Studies from St. Bonaventure University, and his MPhil and PhD from the International Academy of Philosophy in the Principality of Liechtenstein.

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

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).

Maria Fedoryka is associate professor of philosophy and chair of the department at Ave Maria University. She works in the field of the philosophy of love, dealing with issues spanning from the centrality of love to the divine being, to its role at the center of creation, to its meaning for marriage, family, and sexuality. Among her publications are the booklet The Special Gift of Women for God, the Family and the World published by the Catholic Truth Society in England, as well as a number of popular and scholarly articles on Humanae vitae and Hildebrand’s philosophy of spousal intimacy, and on topics relating to gender and marriage. 

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.

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. 


Janet E. Smith holds the Father Michael J. McGivney Chair of Life Ethics at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. She is the author of Humanae Vitae: A Generation Later and of the Right to Privacy and the editor of Why Humanae Vitae Was Right: A Reader. Prof. Chris Kaczor and Prof. Smith co-authored Life Issues, Medical Choices, Questions and Answers for Catholics. She has recently edited with Fr. Paul Check, Living the Truth in Love: Pastoral Approaches to Same Sex Issues. She has served three terms as a consulter to the Pontifical Council on the Family and currently is a member of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission, III. More than two million copies of her talk, “Contraception: Why Not” have been distributed.

Michael Waldstein is St. Paul Center Faculty Fellow at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He served as a member of the Pontifical Council for the Family (2003-2009) and is a member of the the Board of Trustees of the University of Eichstaett, Germany. He holds a B.A. from Thomas Aquinas College, a Ph.D. from the University of Dallas, an S.S.L. from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, and a Th.D. from Harvard University in New Testament and Christian Origins. His books include a critical edition of the four Coptic manuscripts (with English translation) of the Secret Book of John, a Gnostic text discovered in the Nag Hammadi codices, and a new translation of John Paul II’s Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body.


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 Tuesday, May 29, and a closing banquet on Saturday, June 2, with departure on Sunday, June 3.

How to Apply

The seminar is open to anyone who wishes to explore the nature and significance love, sex, and marriage, 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 deadline to be considered for financial assistance is April 15. The application window ends on April 30.

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. 

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 by applying by April 15. To be considered for a scholarship, applicants must submit a letter of recommendation or recieve a nomination

Student: $550

Professional (dormitory housing): $1,500

Professional (no dormitory housing; attendee covers hotel accommodations at the special semianar rate of $105/night): $1,250


May 29 - June 3, 2018


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