Eleventh Annual Summer Seminar: The Personalist Vision

The Personalist Vision

Though persons have been devalued and commodified in every age, new political and social movements of the last century have subjected man to unheard-of degradation. Much of this degradation has been violent and murderous, but much of it has been the silent and steady degradation of a throw-away culture.

Personalism opposes all such degradation. It affirms the unique and inviolable dignity of every human person. It is a school of thought and imagination that has, from the Greeks to the present day, developed in constant opposition to depersonalizing movements. Personalism in the twentieth century, especially as a Christian tradition, is the fruit of luminaries like Jacques Maritain, Pope John Paul II, Edith Stein, and, of course, Dietrich von Hildebrand.

In this seminar, we will learn of the irreducible dignity of the human person; of the vital interplay of freedom and virtue; of the universal call to solidarity among persons; of the stark divide between patriotism and nationalism, and the chasm separating community and mob rule; of the need for proposing, rather than imposing, religious truth; and of the way in which human persons are destined ultimately for communion with God.

We will look at how Personalism has developed from the ancient world, through centuries of Christian and Jewish development, and into the modern world. We will look to the witness of those who, like Hildebrand (and others like Martin Luther King Jr. and Dorothy Day), lived out the tenets of Personalism, championing human dignity in the face of seemingly impossible opposition.

Especially today, Personalism provides a robust basis for a defense of the dignity of all persons, and for genuine solidarity and unity in our nation and world today.

How to Participate

Our seminars are designed to provide our participants a chance to explore rich insights, interact with our master faculty, and engage in vibrant conversation and networking with their fellow participants.

Attendance is based on interest and a simple online application.

Upon acceptance, applicants have full access to the following:

  • Two daily keynote sessions with talks and panel discussions featuring seminar faculty, including the ability to ask questions during the Q&A
  • Daily “face to face” small group discussions moderated by seminar faculty
  • Optional afternoon sessions on special topics
  • Personal engagement and networking with faculty and fellow participants

Participants will have the same small group throughout the seminar, so individual participation is important to the overall experience of you and your peers (who are sure to soon become your friends!). Participants are asked to commit to a modest amount of reading before the seminar, delivered in the form of a digital packet, which will help enrich the overall conversation.

Register as a Guest

We understand that not everyone who is interested is also able to commit to the full seminar and the readings. For those who cannot but who still want to attend in some way, we offer a limited Guest Pass, which will allow you to view the daily keynote sessions. Click here to request a Guest Pass.

Virtual Format

All presentations and group discussions will be conducted live in Zoom. Links for each session will be sent out ahead of time.

Participants and Guests will be able to submit questions following Keynotes and Panel Discussions.

Participants will be part of a small group moderated by a seminar faculty member. Small groups will have the same participants and moderators throughout the seminar.

Special topics and social sessions will be available in the afternoons and evenings throughout the seminar. These will vary in size and duration.

Spirit of the Seminar

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. We’re excited to continue the annual seminar in a virtual format.

Hildebrand Project events are intellectual and convivial—qualities we will carry into our virtual sessions. Participants and guests will be sent a packet of reading materials prior to the start of the Seminar. Participants are expected to complete the modest readings before the start of the seminar.

Free to Attend

We want anyone who wants to attend this seminar to be able to do so. Instead of a set tuition amount, we invite attendees to make a donation to help defray the cost of the seminar. Attendance does not require a donation.

Any donation is gratefully accepted. No gift is too small (or too large!).

Attendance Type                                       Suggested Donation

Student Participation                              $99

Professional Participation                    $299

Guest                                                                 $35

Are you able to help finance the seminar? Please consider being a seminar sponsor.

Seminar Sponsor Levels

Friend                                                                 $500

Benefactor                                                      $1,000

Patron                                                                $2,500

Extraordinary                                                $5,000 & up

Daily Schedule

Sessions will begin on Monday, July 5th and run through Friday, July 9th. All events take place live.

10:00-10:55 AM EDT (Keynote Presentation)

11:00-11:55 AM EDT (Panel Discussion)
12:00-1:00 PM EDT (Small Groups) Full Participants only
Afternoon/Evening Various Times (Special topics sessions, one-on-one with faculty, social gatherings) Full Participants

It is expected that Participants attend all of the Keynote Presentations, Panel Discussions, and Small Groups. Indeed, such participation is vital for the cohesion of the seminar. If you are unable to participate fully, please consider registering for a Guest Pass.

Detailed Schedule Coming Soon

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

Peter J. Colosi is associate professor of philosophy at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island. 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. He publishes in areas including medical ethics, Catholic social and moral teaching, philosophical personalism and Franciscan studies. He is co-founder of the Theology of the Body International Symposia, co-founder of and lecturer at the Catholic Medical Student and Resident Boot Camp of the Catholic Medical Association, and a Hildebrand Project Associated Scholar.

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 BA from Yeshiva College, rabbinical ordination from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, and an MA in Philosophy from the University of Chicago, where his doctoral studies focused on the moral and political thought of Alasdair MacIntyre. Rabbi Gottlieb’s writing has appeared in First Things, Public Discourse, SEVEN: An Anglo-American Literary Review, The University Bookman, TraditionOnline, the Algemeiner, and From Within the Tent: Essays on the Weekly Parsha from Rabbis and Professors of Yeshiva University. He is a member of the Orthodox Forum Steering Committee and serves on the Editorial Committee of Tradition: A Journal of Orthodox Jewish Thought. He lives in Teaneck, NJ, with his wife and family.

Robert McNamara is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Tutor at the Maryvale Institute, Founding Member and Current Secretary of the Aquinas Institute of Ireland, Associate Series Editor of Edith Stein Studies, and Associate Scholar of the Hildebrand Project. His research focus is anthropology and metaphysics in medieval and phenomenological thinkers, especially as both bear reference to philosophical personalism. He has studied physics and computing, philosophy and theology, and received his Ph.D. from Liverpool Hope University for research detailing Edith Stein’s engagement with the thought of Thomas Aquinas in her mature philosophy of the human person. Robert is originally from Galway, Ireland.

Michael Matheson Miller is Research Fellow and Director of Acton Media at the Acton Institute. With some 10 years of international experience, Miller has lived and traveled in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. He lectures internationally on such themes as moral philosophy, economic development, and social theory, and entrepreneurship. He is a frequent guest on radio and has been published in The Washington Times, The Detroit News, The L.A. Daily News, and Real Clear Politics. He is the director and host of the PovertyCure DVD Series and has appeared in various video curricula including Doing the Right Thing, Effective Stewardship, and the Birth of Freedom. Miller is on the board of trustees for the Hildebrand Project.

Jonathan J. Sanford is President and Provost of the University of Dallas. Sanford has published widely on philosophical figures and topics and has made significant contributions especially in foundational questions in moral philosophy, as evidenced in Before Virtue: Assessing Contemporary Virtue Ethics. Sanford is currently writing a book on virtue and education. He lectures widely to both scholarly and popular audiences on a variety of topics. Sanford is a trustee and Associated Scholar of the Hildebrand Project, a member of the executive committee and the executive council of the American Catholic Philosophical Association, a member of the Dallas board of Legatus, a fellow of the Dallas Institute for Humanities and Culture, and a board member of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars.

Margarita Mooney is currently an Associate Professor at Princeton Theological Seminary and founder and executive director of Scala Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to reinvigorating classical liberal arts education and preserving the ideas and practices necessary to maintain a free society. As a woman whose work lies at the intersection of the social sciences with philosophy and theology, she excels at encouraging students, readers, listeners and audiences to think about important questions in culture, education and faith in new and different ways.Dr. Mooney is an associated scholar of the Hildebrand Project.

Anne Snyder is the Editor-in-Chief of Comment Magazine and the host of Breaking Ground, a collaborative web commons created in 2020 to try to inspire a dynamic cross-section of thinkers and practitioners to respond to the major crises of the year with wisdom, hope and courage. She is the host of The Whole Person Revolution podcast and the author of The Fabric of Character: A Wise Giver’s Guide to Renewing our Social and Moral Landscape, published in 2019.

David Brooks has a gift for bringing audiences face to face with the spirit of our times with humor, insight and quiet passion. He is a keen observer of the American way of life and a savvy analyst of present-day politics, culture and foreign affairs. For audiences in all areas of healthcare, David brings important insights into the politics of healthcare and a focus on character as the key to our healthcare debates, healthcare delivery, and mission-driven leadership. As a commentator, David Brooks holds prestigious positions as a bi-weekly Op-Ed columnist for the New York Times and as a regular analyst on PBS NewsHour and NPR’s All Things Considered. He is the author of New York Times bestseller, The Road to Character, and The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life.

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. Already as a child (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.

Mark K. Spencer is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of St. Thomas and Fellow for the Hildebrand Project. 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.

David Walsh, Ph.D. is Professor of Politics with teaching and research interests in the field of political theory broadly conceived. His focus has been on the question that the modern world poses for itself at its deepest level. Does our civilization possess the moral and spiritual resources to survive? In response to that question Walsh has traced the modern retrieval order in a trilogy of works (see more here). One of the results of these studies has been a renewed interest in the centrality of the person from whom order radiates into social and political existence. The first phase of this new direction has appeared in Politics of the Person as the Politics of Being (2016), followed by a companion volume, The Priority of the Person (2020). His current book project is “The Invisible Source of Authority: God in a Secular Age.”

Rocco Buttiglione is a philosopher, statesman, and leading European public intellectual. He was a beloved friend and trusted collaborator of Pope St. John Paul II, and is an authority on his philosophical anthropology. His book Karol Wojtyla: The Thought of the Man who became Pope John Paul II is a fundamental work on the pope’s early philosophy. A member of the Italian Parliament for over two decades, he serves on the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences and holds the John Paul II Chair for Philosophy and History of European Institutions at the Lateran University in Rome. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the Hildebrand Project.

Jared Zimmerer is the Senior Director of Bishop Robert Barron’s Word on Fire Institute. He holds an M.A. in Theology from Holy Apostles College and Seminary and is pursuing a Ph.D. in Humanities from Faulkner University where he is currently writing his dissertation on the personalism of Russell Kirk. He resides in North Texas with his wife and six 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.

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