REading Groups



Our reading groups allow students to explore philosophical and religious questions outside their normal course of study. 


Power, Technology, and Human Nature, Nathaniel

We instinctively think of ourselves as the masters and creators of technology, which serves as a tool for our own purposes. Those purposes become grander as technology develops, including the transformation of human nature and even the triumph over death. But we have also come to see the dangers technology poses to the human race, the way it can change us in ways we did not expect. This seminar will explore the nature of technology and power and the impact they have on human nature. We will read excerpts from the work of the twentieth-century German philosopher and theologian, Romano Guardini, including The End of the Modern World and Letters from Lake Como.

Area of Interest: Religion in the Modern Age


Previous Groups


The Thought of john henry newman

This reading group examines the encounter between religion and modernity, especially since the nineteenth century. On Mondays and Thursdays during Fall 2018, we will look at the philosophy, theology, and educational theory of John Henry Newman. The seminar will read excerpts of his Fifteen Sermons Preached before the University of Oxford, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, and The Idea of a University


American Constitutional Tradition

This one-credit, biweekly reading group for students at Columbia Law School explores the philosophical underpinnings of the American constitutional tradition. Faculty from the Law School and other scholars in the area serve as participants and guest lecturers. In the spring of 2018, we examined the relationship between Church and State in the early days of the Republic and the character of early American democracy.