Hildebrand Schülerkreis

Hildebrand Schülerkreis

The Schülerkreis has been founded in the conviction that the vision of the human person developed by Dietrich von Hildebrand, Karol Wojtyla/John Paul II, Edith Stein, Jacques Maritain, Romano Guardini, and so many others remains a precious gift to the world and fertile source for thinking about contemporary challenges.  

An advanced seminar, the Schülerkreis will provide a forum for students and scholars who are eager to grow in their understanding of personalism, those who are developing it for the present and future, as well as critics of personalism, and those interested in personalism from the perspective of the tradition. 

The aim of the Schülerkreis is above all spirited discussion. Each participant makes a brief presentation of 20 mins — including works in progress — to be discussed by the group.

This year’s Schülerkreis will be led by a distinguished faculty of four: Rocco Buttiglione, John F. Crosby, Josef Seifert, and Mark K. Spencer, who will themselves make presentations. Two of our faculty were students of Dietrich von Hildebrand, and three students and friends of Karol Wojtyla.


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.

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 in person, 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 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. 

Attendance is by interest and upon submission of a brief abstract for one’s intended presentation. Some financial aid is available.

The deadline to  submit an abstract is Sunday, June 11.

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 on the application.

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 - 13, 2017


Franciscan University of Steubenville

To Attend

Online Application

Please submit by June 11



Contact Us

Stay Informed