Sixth Annual Summer Seminar: The Past and Promise of Christian Personalism

The Past and Promise of Christian Personalism

A four-day seminar introducing Christian Personalism to scholars, university and high school professors, graduate students, and people active in public life.

Among recent philosophical and theological movements, twentieth century Christian Personalism is unique for the depth and variety of its reflections on personhood. Dietrich von Hildebrand and Karol Wojtyla (John Paul II) were both major figures in this Personalism, which also provided inspiration for philosophers like Jacques Maritain (whose personalism influenced the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) and activists like Dorothy Day (whose Catholic Worker Movement was inspired by the personalism of Emmanuel Mounier).

This summer’s seminar will survey the central insights of twentieth century Personalism, consider its place within the Christian intellectual tradition, and explore the contributions it has still to make. A group of 25-30 participants will read key texts in Augustine, Martin Buber, Dietrich von Hildebrand, Gabriel Marcel, Emmanuel Mounier, John Henry Newman, Joseph Ratzinger, Max Scheler, Thomas Aquinas, Edith Stein, Karol Wojtyla, and others, along with source texts from Scripture and tradition.


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.

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 of the Hildebrand Project, which he cofounded. His latest book is The Personalism of John Henry Newman

Jonathan J. Sanford, PhD, is Dean of the Constantin College of Liberal Arts and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Dallas. A long-time student of both Christian personalism and Thomism, his most recent philosophical research has focused on virtue theory and ethical foundations, as evidenced in his Before Virtue: Assessing Contemporary Virtue Ethics (2015). He previously served at Franciscan University of Steubenville as Professor of Philosophy, the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, and as the founding Director of Franciscan University Press. He counts himself a close friend of the Hildebrand Project and a great admirer of its work.  


View the syllabus here. 

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 Christian Personalism.

There will be a opening dinner on June 12, and a closing banquet on June 16.

How to Apply

The seminar is open to anyone who wishes to deepen their understanding of the human person in light of the contribution of Christian Personalism, including especially:

  • College Seniors and graduate students, especially in philosophy, theology, social sciences, and economics
  • Seminarians and clergy seeking to deepen their ministry
  • College and high school professors 
  • 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 April 24. The application window ends on May 2.

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 April 24.

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

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.

Frequently Asked Questions. 


June 12-16, 2016


Franciscan University of Steubenville

To Attend



Complete the online application here.

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