Hildebrand Schülerkreis

Hildebrand Schülerkreis

The Hildebrand Schülerkreis (or “Student Circle”) develops and advances the philosophy of Dietrich von Hildebrand in the company of Hildebrand’s own students. This seminar is designed to provide a forum for high-level exchange of ideas among scholars working on Dietrich von Hildebrand and professionals with an applied interest in his philosophy. Each participant will contribute to the Schülerkreis, usually by presenting his or her research to the other participants, who will offer thoughtful and critical responses to the research and ideas that are presented. Thus the Schülerkreis will not be divided between faculty and learners, but will be a community of peers talking with each other. 

The Seminar will be led by John F. Crosby, who is Hildebrand’s leading American student, and has published many studies on his thought. He will be joined by Rocco Buttiglione, a student of Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II) and founding figure of the journal, Communio, and by Mark K. Spencer, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of St. Thomas, Minnesota.

Intellectual Guides 

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 cofounded. His latest book is The Personalism of John Henry Newman

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.

Mark K. Spencer is Assistant 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. He has published numerous articles, many of which synthesize Thomistic, phenomenological, and personalist philosophical approaches to the human person. He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota with his wife, Susanna, and their four children.


In style, the Schülerkreis is a mix of academic conference and classical symposium. Each participant will give a presentation, followed by a response and discussion. Depending on the interests and expertise of the group, there may also be panels on particular topics. Ample time will be afforded to investigate new questions as they arise.  

The evenings are open, but often devoted to socials, informal sessions, wine, and music. There will be an opening dinner on Sunday, July 9, and a closing dinner on Thursday, July 13.

How to Apply

The Schülerkreis is open to scholars, advanced graduate students, clergy, and professionals in related fields, who are substantially familiar with the works of Dietrich von Hildebrand, and are looking to deepen their understanding in concert with others. 

The application process is selective, and, in order to facilitate rich conversations, the number of participants is kept intentionally small. 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 10. The window for all applications closes on April 30.

The application is available online here. 

Fees and Scholarships

The fee covers room, board (including formal dinners and receptions), 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 10.

Student Fee: $400 | Professional Fee: $1,000

Room, Board, and Travel

The Schülerkreis 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.


For additional information, please consult our FAQ or contact us at events@hildebrandproject.org.


July 9 - 14, 2017


Franciscan University of Steubenville

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Online Application



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