Summer seminar on Christian moral life now accepting high school students


The Witherspoon Institute is inviting rising high school juniors and seniors to apply to its Moral Life and the Classical Tradition Seminar, to be taught this June at Princeton University and Princeton Theological Seminary by several distinguished professors.

“This is an excellent one week seminar especially helpful to those bright young men and women that aspire to attend top-tier universities because it enables them to get a firm grasp of the important intellectual arguments to both live the Christian life and strive for intellectual excellence, and how to navigate the secular elite environments,” Witherspoon Institute President Luis Tellez said in an e-mail to CNA.

The classical component of the seminar is a course on the Republic of Plato. After carefully studying the entirety of Plato’s classic text before arriving at the seminar, students will participate in discussions led by Dr. Michael Sugrue of Ave Maria University.

Lectures on the rational foundations of Christian moral thought compose the seminar’s second component. Topics include the relationship of faith and reason, Christian sexual and marital principles, and bioethics.

Instruction and extracurricular activities will be segregated by sex.

Dr. Seana Sugrue of Ave Maria University will conduct the lectures for the young women students while Dr. Paul Macdonald of Bucknell University will deliver lectures for the young men.

One student wrote about his experience of the seminar, saying the teaching of the Socratic Method and other philosophies of Socrates “has truly opened my eyes.”

“I am thinking about things I never even considered before, and for the first time in far too long I feel wholly intellectually stimulated.”

The seminar will take place from June 21 to June 27.  The application process includes an application form, high school transcripts, a recommendation from a high school teacher, and a 500 word essay on whether virtue can be taught, all by April 15. Participants must also pay a fee of $200.

Other seminars will also take place under the sponsorship of the Witherspoon Institute this Summer.

An August seminar on natural law theory and St. Thomas Aquinas will be held for undergraduates and graduates.  

Graduate seminars include a June event titled “The Marital Divide: Race, Ethnicity, Class, and the Retreat from Marriage” and an August event on the Catholic philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe.

A seminar for law students and legal professionals on the moral foundations of law will also take place in August.

More information on the Moral Life and the Classical Tradition Seminar and other seminars may be found at the Witherspoon Institute’s web site at