For the past fifteen years, the Lumen Christi Institute’s summer seminar program has become a gold-standard for intensive doctoral coursework and world-class intellectual formation in the Catholic intellectual tradition. Last summer, we held 10 summer seminars – the most in our history.  Next summer, we’ll be beating that number as we host 11 seminars. Let's take a look at the impact these summer seminars had on students, faculty and universities around the world.

The seminars are designed to convey in one week the equivalent of a semester-long course, so that students can use the intellectual formation over the tenure of their own academic careers once they become future faculty. Student alumni who have passed through the Lumen Christi Institute’s summer seminar program currently teach at Harvard University, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Dallas, and many other institutions. Led by senior scholars, these seminars provide crucial fellowship opportunities, as well as the support that Catholic students at secular universities need in their pursuit of truth. In addition to engaging with texts from the Catholic intellectual tradition, the camaraderie that develops among the students makes a lasting impact on their professional and personal lives.

A Few Highlights

This year was an exciting one for the summer seminar program. We hosted our first Monastic Wisdom seminar for women (co-presented with the St. Anselm Institute and Our Lady of the Angels Monastery), which offered a unique fusion of prayer and study. In addition to lectures, reading and discussion, each morning the seminar participants joined the sisters at 6:15 a.m. for Lauds, participating in the prayerful rhythm of monastic life, cadenced by the divine office. This seminar articulated the conviction that monastic wisdom and discipline must be lived to be understood and appreciated.

“Engaging, enriching, formative, informative, and enlightened.”

A couple of other seminars exploring the relationship between theology and science also integrated study, prayer, and…farm work! At the Theology for Engineers and Scientists seminar at Duke University (presented with Fons Vitae and Nova Forum), students discussed how technocracy can obviate the human person, while picking organic vegetables from the Duke campus farm to cook their own dinner One student wrote, “The seminar was really engaging, enriching, informative, formative and enlightened us in many ways, especially regarding the harmony between faith and science. We have been equipped to address the challenges of atheistic materialism and the technocratic paradigm. We have learnt the dangers of misguided anthropocentrism. We have learnt to relate better with our common home, the environment. Above all, we learnt how to work together to make the world a better place.”

Students participating Explorations in Integral Ecology (presented with COLLIS and co-sponsored by the St. Kateri Institute) did the same on the Cornell campus farm. This year was also the first that we hosted a seminar, Religion and Human Flourishing (presented with the Harvard Catholic Forum and the Human Flourishing Program), at Harvard University. Students explored the relationship between religion and human flourishing from the perspective both of the Christian theological tradition and contemporary social science. One student reflected, “Participating in this seminar was an excellent experience. We examined the concept of human flourishing from an interdisciplinary perspective, incorporating reflection from theology, philosophy, and the social sciences.”  All three of these seminars were made possible through the support of grant #62372 from the John Templeton Foundation, “In Lumine: Promoting the Catholic Intellectual Tradition on Campuses Nationwide.”

Another seminar, The Thought of René Girard: Understanding the Faith in a Secular Age took place on the very campus where Girard himself taught: Stanford University. Students got to meet with his biographer Cynthia Haven. The fruit of friendship itself made the collaboration between Lumen Christi Institute and Stanford’s campus possible. Personal friends of Girard partnered with the Institute to host the students there and explore what Girard’s ongoing legacy means for Christian thought.

“The people Lumen Christi attracts are truly exceptional and the friendships I formed during this week are such an encouragement to me for how I can integrate a lively faith with a robust academic and professional life, with wonderful people all along the way.”


Two of our seminars took place in Europe this past summer. The Economics and Catholic Social Thought seminar in Rome, Italy allowed students and faculty to do a pilgrimage in the “eternal city,” and meet with Vatican officials concerned with the Church’s social and economic teachings. Students participating in the John

Henry Newman seminar visited key sites around Oxford, England tied to John Henry Newman’s life, including the Birmingham oratory, founded by John Henry Newman in 1848, after his conversion to the Catholic Church.

One of the longest running seminars takes place every other year at UC Berkeley, examining the work of Augustine of Hippo in Truth and Authority in Augustine’s City of God. Doctoral students spent seven days with long-time friend of the Institute and resident scholar Dr. Russell Hittinger, poring over Augustine’s magnum opus, as well as exploring UC Berkeley and building connections with one another that will last a life time. One of the students told us after the fact, “The people Lumen Christi attracts are truly exceptional and the friendships I formed during this week are such an encouragement to me for how I can integrate a lively faith with a robust academic and professional life, with wonderful people all along the way.”


Check out the line-up of the eleven seminars we'll be holding this summer.


Economics and Catholic Social Thought: A Primer

June 2-5, 2024 | University of Notre Dame

Mary Hirschfeld (University of Notre Dame); Joseph Kaboski (University of Notre Dame); Kirk Doran (University of Notre Dame)

Co-presented with the Catholic Research Economics Discussion Organization (CREDO)


What is Social Science? Charles Taylor’s Catholic Vision of Human Behavior

June 2 - 8, 2024 | University of Southern California in Los Angeles, CA

Jason Blakely (Pepperdine University and Senior Fellow at the Nova Forum for Catholic Thought)

Co-presented with Nova Forum for Catholic Thought 


Early Christian Biblical Exegesis

June 9-14, 2024 | University of Toronto

Lewis Ayres (Durham University); Paul Blowers (Milligan University); Rev. Andrew Summerson, S.Th.D. (University of St. Michaels College)

Co-presented with the Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies at the University of St. Michael's College


Catholic Social Thought in Business Education

June 11-14, 2024 | University of St. Thomas

Jeffrey Burks (University of Notre Dame); Lloyd Sandelands (University of Michigan); Msgr. Martin Schlag (University of St. Thomas, MN); Andreas Widmer (Catholic University of America)

Copresented with the John A. Ryan Institute for Catholic Social Thought at the University of St. Thomas (MN); the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame; the Ciocca Center for Principled Entrepreneurship at the Catholic University of America; the Lumen Christi Institute; and the Markets, Culture and Ethics Research Centre at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome.


St Thomas Aquinas on Free Choice

June 16-23, 2024 | University of Chicago

Fr. Stephen Brock (Visiting Professor, University of Chicago)


The Thought of John Henry Newman

June 22-29, 2023 | University of Oxford

Fr. Stephen Fields, SJ (Georgetown University)


Artificial Intelligence, Ethics & Catholic Thought 

June 23-29, 2024 | Duke University

Paul Scherz (University of Virginia)

Open to Ph.D. students in theology, philosophy, computer science, and other relevant fields of study. Limited spots open to professionals within the field.

Copresented with Fons Vitae and the In Lumine Network


Faith on the Frontiers: Origins, Cosmos, and Extraterrestrial Life

July 7-13, 2024 | Cornell University

Jonathan Lunine (Cornell University); Chris Baglow (University of Notre Dame); Karin Oberg (Harvard University)

Copresented with COLLIS and the In Lumine Network


The Thought of Rene Girard: Understanding the Faith in a Secular Age

July 13-20, 2024 | Stanford University

Grant Kaplan (St. Louis University); Trevor Merrill (Caltech)


Eudaimonia: Philosophical, Theological, and Psychological Perspectives

July 21-27, 2024 | University of Pennsylvania

Candace Vogler (University of Chicago); Martin Seligman (University of Pennsylvania); Kristján Kristjánsson (University of Birmingham); Darcia Narvaez ( University of Notre Dame); David Cloutier (Catholic University of America)

Sarah Schnitker (Baylor University)

Copresented with the Collegium Institute and the In Lumine Network


Catholic Social Thought: A Critical Investigation

July 27-August 3, 2024 | University of California, Berkeley

Russell Hittinger (Catholic University of America); Scott Roniger (Loyola Marymount University)