Fifth Annual Summer Seminar: The Struggle for the Person

The Struggle for the Person:

The Teaching and Witness of Pope St. John Paul II and Dietrich von Hildebrand


Since Pope St. John Paul II died in 2005, his rich philosophical legacy has not received the attention it deserves. In this seminar we will commemorate this significant tenth anniversary by giving special attention to his seminal personalism. We will do this by setting him in dialogue with Dietrich von Hildebrand, another eminent Christian personalist. 

We will give particular attention to their personalist understanding of community and of the social order. Each of them was not only a thinker and a teacher, but also a witness. St. John Paul II bore witness against communism and contributed to its collapse, and Dietrich von Hildebrand bore an unforgettable witness against Nazism. In this seminar we will examine their teaching on the human person in society, and we will let ourselves be challenged by their witness.

Readings will include Love and Responsibility and Centesimus annus by Wojtyla/St. John Paul II, My Battle Against Hitler by Dietrich von Hildebrand, along with relevant selections from other authors. 


The seminar will be led by three scholars who are not only leading authorities in the philosophy of the human person, but each of whom has a personal connection to Pope St. John Paul II. 

Michael Novak is author of some 45 books on human rights, political economy, and interfaith conversation. He was Ronald Reagan’s Ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission, and for many years a regular guest of Pope. St. John Paul II’s.




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 the Pontifical Institute of John Paul II in Rome was deeply formed through personal and philosophical encounters with the Holy Father.


Rocco Buttiglione is an Italian Statesman, philosopher, professor, and a leading public intellectual in Europe. He was a beloved friend and trusted collaborator of Pope St. John Paul II, and is an authority on his philosophy of the human person. 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.



Hildebrand Project Summer Seminars are intellectual and convivial. Participants will be sent a list of reading materials upon acceptance, which should be completed before the start of the seminar. 

Participants will hear lectures and take part in seminar discussions during the day. The evenings are open, but often devoted to wine, music, and conversation — a tribute to the rich culture of both Dietrich von Hildebrand and St. John Paul II. 

There will be a opening dinner on June 7, and a closing banquet on June 11. 

How to Apply

The seminar is open to anyone who wishes to deepen their understanding of the human person in light of the thought and witness of St. John Paul II and Dietrich von Hildebrand, including especially:

  • Seniors and graduate students in all disciplines
  • Seminarians and clergy seeking to deepen their ministry
  • Policy experts, especially in development, human rights, marriage and family law
  • Entrepreneurs, lawyers, journalists

The application process is competitive, and space is limited to thirty participants. Applications will be reviewed on a weekly basis, so we encourage you to apply early.

The deadline to be considered for financial assistance is May 1st. The application window ends on May 8th. 

The application is available online here

Fees and Scholarships

The fee covers room, board, and reading materials for the length of the seminar. However, many generous scholarships are available for those who indicate financial need on their application and apply by the financial assistance deadline of May 1st.

Student Fee: $250 | Professional Fee: $500

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. 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.


June 7-11, 2015


Franciscan University of Steubenville

To Attend

Complete the application here.

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