LEctures and Conferences



Gather with scholars and students for more advanced exploration of classic texts and issues facing our society.


Church–State Relations in a Time of Scandal

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Thursday, September 26

In light of recent scandals in religious communities, how should we think about church–state relations? To what extent should religious institutions submit to the state’s jurisdiction over them, and what limits should they claim on that jurisdiction? How could the state’s prosecution of injustice committed by religious leaders work for good and ill in the years to come?

Join us for a panel discussion between Frank Beckwith (Baylor University), Mark Movsesian (St. John’s University), and Phillip Bethancourt (Southern Baptist Convention).


The moral imagination of the novel

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Friday, October 4 - Saturday, October 5

Columbia University’s Department of Philosophy, the Morningside Institute, and the Thomistic Institute are pleased to present “The Moral Imagination of the Novel.” The conference will examine the ways in which individual novels and the novel as a literary genre can be understood both to depict the search for moral, philosophical, and religious truth and to engage in this very search themselves. Is the novel a realistic or idealistic genre? Can novels expand our sense of moral possibilities? Can they contract them?

The program includes lectures byPaul Elie (Georgetown), Lauren Kopajtic (Fordham), Dhananjay Jagannathan (Columbia), Sr. Ann Astell (Notre Dame), and Thomas Pavel (Chicago).

previous events


The Great Books at 100

In honor of the centennial anniversary of the first course of Columbia’s Core Curriculum in 1919, Eva Brann of St. John’s College will speak on whether the category of “great books” has any determinate meaning. A private faculty seminar will meet the following day to consider the successes and failures of great books curricula and what might be in store for their future.


Creation and Cosmology

Dr. William Carroll is a research fellow at the University of Oxford who studies medieval cosmology and its relation to modern science. His remarks will cover the medieval understandings of the creation of the universe and the implications for contemporary physics, biology, and astronomy.


Realism and the Disclosure of Reality: Two themes in the philosophy of painting

What does art say about the world it depicts? Is it possible to accurately represent reality through art? Dr. Nicholas Teh is assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame.


Augustine and Political Order

Thinkers such as Cicero and Augustine envisioned a different arrangement for society than did modern thinkers such as John Locke. Dr. Adam Thomas, Postdoctoral research fellow at Princeton University, explains the ancient alternatives for organizing society’s private and public spheres.

co-sponsored with:   Columbia Financial Investment Group

co-sponsored with:

Columbia Financial Investment Group

Finance as a Liberal Art

Is working on Wall Street a repudiation of a liberal arts education? Two Ivy-league financiers speak about their education in the humanities and describe their current work and how it can serve as a humanistic art.

  • Stephen Schmalhofer - Teamworthy Ventures

  • Duncan Sahner - Abdiel Capital


Is Patriotism a Virtue?

Modern countries’ diverse citizenries increasingly appear to resist a shared identity and heightening national pride often seems to increase antagonism and intolerance. Dr. Theresa Smart will consider the classical ideal of pietas in the context of contemporary nation-states.

co-sponsored with:   The Portsmouth Institute    The University Bookman

co-sponsored with:

The Portsmouth Institute

The University Bookman

the crisis of liberalism

In light of the increasing tensions apparent in liberal societies, is liberalism an inherently contradictory system whose success generates its own downfall? Patrick Deneen elaborates on the argument of his new book Why Liberalism Failed and Vincent Phillip Muñoz responds.  


  • Patrick Deneen - University of Notre Dame

  • Vincent Phillip Muñoz - University of Notre Dame

co-sponsored with:   Department of Philosophy, Columbia University    The Thomistic Institute

co-sponsored with:

Department of Philosophy, Columbia University

The Thomistic Institute

Desire and the good life

A weekend of reflection on the Aristotelian tradition, especially as it regards practical reasoning as a way of seeking the good. Featuring presentations from:

  • Jennifer Frey - University of South Carolina

  • Candace Vogler - University of Chicago

  • Katja Vogt - Columbia University

  • Dhananjay Jagannathan - Columbia University

c0-sponsored with:   The Veritas Forum at Columbia    Columbia Catholic Ministry

c0-sponsored with:

The Veritas Forum at Columbia

Columbia Catholic Ministry

The Importance of a Literary Imagination

A conversation with celebrated author of children’s literature Mary Pope Osborne. Mary will discuss the unique appeal and challenge of children’s literature as well as the inspiration and fruits of her work.

co-sponsored with:   OU-JLIC at Columbia/Barnard    The Tikvah Fund

co-sponsored with:

OU-JLIC at Columbia/Barnard

The Tikvah Fund

Guilt, Sin, and Privilege: A Fresh Look

Bill McClay expounds on the idea that modern secular society has not shed the mindset of sin and repentance, but is in fact burdened by a graver psychology of transgression and guilt with no adequate means of expiation. Rabbi Shalom Carmy responds.


  • Bill McClay - University of Oklahoma

  • Rabbi Shalom Carmy - Yeshiva University