Events & Courses

Featured 2023-2024 Events

The Myth of Religious Violence? A 15 year Retrospective with Professor William Cavanaugh

Thursday, April 25th, 2024 | Penn Hillel Center

In 2009 the landmark monograph of William Cavanaugh, The Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict, was published by Oxford University Press.  In that work, Cavanaugh showed how the term “religious violence” is not just an uncomplicated description of tragic phenomena witnessed all too frequently around the world.  On the contrary, he argued, it is a foundational myth of western societies that denigrate religious actors as irrational and their conflicts as intractable while at the same time concealing and legitimating state violence against those same actors.

Now in 2024, fifteen years later, it seems that many of the global conflicts – certainly in Ukraine and the Middle East as well as elsewhere in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the US itself – which have embroiled college campuses and played a role in toppling their presidents, have involved unmistakable religious elements. So how then are we to understand them if not by religious violence?  Is “religious extremism” any better or do alternatives like those mobilize new threats against religious liberty?  And how might it become possible not only to understand religious communities and their traditions as not primarily responsible for global violence but also to activate them as vital sources of healing and reconciliation?

Join PRRUCS for this Perry-Collegium Event with Prof. William Cavanaugh on The Myth of Religious Violence.

Date: Thursday, April 25

Time: 3:30pm

Costs of Climate Change: A Magi Project Conversation

Monday, April 15th, 2024 | Penn Newman Center

As the world economy transitions to net-zero emissions, the economics of climate change offers important insights into key policy choices: How should we ensure this transition is efficient? How do we distribute its costs within society? How do we incentivize technological progress in climate adaptation and mitigation? What are the challenges for the transition created by geo-strategic fragmentation?

Our panelists will explore these significant questions, from a range of perspectives, drawing together their academic expertise and their own faith perspectives, particularly in light of the recent apostolic exhortation, Laudate Deum.

Join PRRUCS for a Perry-Collegium Event evening conversation with Prof. Allison Covey (Ethics, Villanova University), Prof. Christina Parajon Skinner (Legal Studies and Business Ethics, University of Pennsylvania), and Prof. Jesús Fernández-Villaverde (Economics, University of Pennsylvania).


6:30-7pm: Reception (heavy hors d’oeuvres)

7pm: Panel begins

8:30pm: Closing reception

This event is cosponsored by the Wharton Business Economics and Public Policy Department and the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities.

Anscombe, Intention, and Cooperation with Evil

Friday, April 12th, 2024 | Penn Newman Center

This year’s annual Anscombe Lecture, “Anscombe, Intention, and Cooperation with Evil,” will be given by Fr. Kevin Flannery, S.J. (Pontifical Gregorian University) on Friday, April 12 at 7pm in the lower lounge of the Penn Newman Center (111 S 38th Street).

Date: Friday, April 12, 2024

Anscombe Unboxed: Reading the Anscombe Archive

February 8 | March 5 | April 9

The Anscombe Reading Group is an opportunity for scholars, students, and interested readers of Anscombe to come together virtually three times during the Fall and three times during theSpring to discuss Anscombe’s philosophy.
Elizabeth Anscombe is one of the seminal thinkers of the 20th century. This year’s instantiation of the Anscombe Reading Group delves into the philosophical treasure trove that is the Collegium Institute Anscombe Archive. Across six sessions, we will read hand-picked selections from the Archive, spanning across the wide range of Anscombe’s thought. This will be a unique and exciting opportunity to discover and discuss Anscombe afresh alongside other scholars, students, and interested readers.
Dates: October 17, November 14, December 12, February 8, March 5, April 9

Art & Truth: Exploring the Responsibility of the Artist

Monday, March 11th, 2024 | Penn Newman Center

Join PRRUCS and Collegium Institute’s Ars Vivendi Project for this evening conversation with Kendall Cox, Director of Academic Affairs for the Templeton Honors College, Professor, and artist, and painter Caleb Kortokrax.

“Making Sacred All the Whispers of the World”: The Cabaretesque and the Aesthetics of Trauma

Tuesday, February 20, 2024 | Rose Recital Hall

Trauma—as memory, as history, as past, as present—is inseparable from the sound and music of Jewish life. Sounding such trauma, giving voice to pain and tragedy, is possible only upon confronting the aesthetic paradox of how beauty, meaning, and agency intersect with the reality of trauma. Drawing upon Philip Bohlman’s decades-long engagement with the performance and study of Jewish music on the cabaret stage, especially with his ensemble, the New Budapest Orpheum Society, the 27th annual Meyerhoff Lecture explores the paths that lead beyond the paradox, even in the moments of greatest trauma.

Established in 1996, the annual Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Lecture honors the memory of Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff, parents of Eleanor Meyerhoff Katz, wife of Herbert D. Katz, and important philanthropists who supported numerous and enduring civic and Jewish causes. The series brings to Penn preeminent scholars for a campus talk meant to enrich the experience of Katz Center fellows and open up the fellowship theme to the broader university community.

This event is cosponsored by the PRRUCS Perry-Collegium Initiative.

The Aesthetics of Healing: Reflections on Art, Medicine, and Exile

Thursday, December 7, 2023 | Sheraton University City

Join PRRUCS for this Perry-Collegium concluding event for the Medical Humanities Fellowship, featuring cardiologist and artist, Nazanin Mogbeli.

The Classical and Christian Tradition in American Democracy: New Cases for & Against

Thursday, November 2, 2023 | University of Pennsylvania

Join Collegium Institute and PRRUCS for this luncheon event, “The Classical and Christian Tradition in American Democracy: New Cases for & Against” with authors of two new books, Professor Kody Cooperand Professor Anne Norton.

Professor Kody Cooper is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Service at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga and author of the recently published The Classical and Christian Origins of American Politics: Political Theology, Natural Law, and the American Founding. Professor Anne Norton is the Stacey and Henry Jackson President’s Distinguished Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania. Professor Norton is the author of the recently published Wild Democracy: Anarchy, Courage, and Ruling the Law.

Penn and the Future of Religion in the University

Friday, October 20, 2023 | University of Pennsylvania

Perry-Collegium Initiative (PCI) panel: Penn and the Future of Religion in the University featuring Douglas Jacobsen (Professor of Religion Emeritus, Messiah University, and coauthor of two recent Oxford UP volumes: No Longer Invisible: Religion in University Education and The American University in a Postsecular Age) and three PRRUCS senior affiliates: Professors Michele Margolis (Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania), Beth Wenger(Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, School of Arts & Sciences, University of Pennsylvania) and John J. DiIulio, Jr. (Faculty Director, PRRUCS-PCI, and Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania).

The Affective Academic: Reflecting on Embodied Research

Friday, October 6, 2023 | University of Pennsylvania

What does feeling have to do with the life of the mind? For centuries, science and philosophy seemed to be in agreement that the only way to better understand the world around us was to purge our thought processes of emotion. But recent dialogues with a range of perspectives—including neuroscience and non-Western philosophy—have challenged this view. This informal colloquium will convene a diverse group of scholars to reflect on the relationship of emotion to our academic vocations on two fronts. Part 1 will consider how emotion shapes research itself, helping us to form questions, pursue understanding, and plug in to the social side of scholarship. In Part 2, we’ll explore how emotion informs our approach to teaching.
Leading our conversation will be Donovan Schaefer, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, whose recent monograph, Wild Experiment: Feeling Science and Secularism after Darwin (Duke, 2022), attempts to address these questions. For its efforts to rethink the relationship between thinking and feeling, the book has been honored with awards from the Society for Social Studies and Science and the International Society for Science and Religion.  Prof. Schaefer will be joined by two discussants who will co-lead the sessions on research and teaching respectively.

Ongoing Seminar: Anscombe on Action and Ethics

February 22 | April 4 | May 7

Three Spring Sessions

February 22, 2023: Dr. John Peter DiIulio (Penn): “On Just Promises”

April 4, 2023: Prof Graham Hubbs (Idaho): “Anscombe’s Ethics of Money”

May 7: Dr. Paul Musso (Penn): “Anscombe on State Authority” 

What Is (Human) Life II Conference

Thursday & Friday, July 13-14, 2023 | University of Pennsylvania

Session: “Reconsidering Human Agency and Intelligence in Age of AI”, featuring Professor Stake Ake (Drexel University) and Jesse Couenhoven (Villanova University)


Faculty Colloquium on "Cultivating the Art of Being Human: the Challenge and Opportunity of ChatGPT” featuring Professors Amy Sepinwall (Penn) and Weimao Ke (Drexel)

Friday, April 21, 2023 | University of Pennsylvania, Perelman Center for Political Science & Economics (133 S. 36th St), PCPSE Room 625

It’s here: AI has burst into higher education in ways that no longer seem possible for non-specialists to ignore.  New interfaces like ChatGPT4 raise very significant practical questions relating to academic integrity and job displacement, to be sure.  But they also provide an opportunity to revisit more fundamental questions about the ends of college education and the traits constitutive of a human life well-lived.  This informal colloquium draws together faculty of diverse disciplinary trainings, backgrounds, and commitments to venture outside of our ordinary discourse communities and build intellectual friendship while discussing questions of broad scope for our university community.

This Friday afternoon colloquium will feature two discussion sessions, each of which will open with brief remarks, followed by a reception. Here is the schedule:

Coffee & Light Refreshments Available starting at 2:40pm

Session #1: 3:00: Amy Sepinwall (Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics, Wharton School, Penn): Becoming Human Again: What Social Insights Might AI Advances Offer to Us Here?

Session #2: 4:15: Weimao Ke (Professor of Information Science, Drexel): Engaging with AI as an Educator: New Challenges and Opportunities for Teaching and Mentorship

Friendship, Faith, and Philosophical Revolution with Prof. John Berkman (University of Toronto)

Friday, April 14, 2023 | 9:30 – 10:30 am | University of Pennsylvania, Kislak Center for Special Collections | Van Pelt Library, 6th Floor, Seminar Room 627

A Perry-Collegium Initiative event

Collegium Institute, PRRUCS, & Penn Philosophy Present: Friendship, Faith, and Philosophical Revolution; an Anscombe Archive Exhibit & Presentation, with John Berkman (University of Toronto)

God and the Multiverse with Dr. Deb Haarsma

Thursday, April 13, 2023 | 7:30 pm | Penn Newman Center (111 S. 38th St.)

A Perry-Collegium Initiative Event

Collegium Institute & PRRUCS Present: “God and the Multiverse” with Dr. Deb Haarsma, Astronomer and President of BioLogos.

The Ethics of Killing with Joshua Stuchlik

Thursday, March 23, 2023 | 12-1:30 pm | University of Pennsylvania, Irvine Auditorium

Collegium Institute and the Penn Program for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society present: “The Ethics of Killing: Ansombe’s Contribution to Understanding Murder”, featuring Joshua Stuchlik, a Professor of Philosophy at the University of St. Thomas.

Reading Newman in the Third Reich with Prof. Helena Tomko

Tuesday, February 21, 2023 | 7:30 pm | Penn Newman Center

Collegium Institute & PRRUCS Present: “Reading Newman in the Third Reich”, an evening conversation with Prof. Helena Tomko, Professor of Literature at Villanova University in commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the White Rose Student Resistance.

Medical Humanities on Wellness & Spirituality with Dr. Philip Gehrman and Dr. Thomas Kolon

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Collegium Institute and the Penn Program for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society present: “Medical Humanities on Wellness and Spirituality”, featuring Dr. Philip Gehrman, Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, and Dr. Thomas Kolon, Chief of Urology Division at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Law & the Human Person, A History of the First Amendment with Prof. Sarah Barringer Gordon

Monday, January 30, 2023 

Collegium Institute & PRRUCS Present: “Law & the Human Person: A History of the First Amendment”, featuring Prof. Sarah Barringer Gordon, Arlin M. Adams Professor of Constitutional Law at Penn Carey Law School.

The Lost Women: Recovering the Other English Catholic Literary Revival with Profs. Bonnie Lander Johnson and Julia Meszaros

Thursday, January 12, 2023 | 12 pm ET on Zoom

The Penn Program for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society, Collegium Institute, and Dappled Things present: “The Lost Women: Recovering the Other English Catholic Literary Revival”, an Ars Vivendi Arts Initiative conversation featuring Professors Bonnie Lander Johnson (Cambridge University) and Julia Meszaros (St. Patrick’s Pontifical University, Maynooth, Ireland).


Sample of PRRUCS – Co-Sponsored Courses

AMES 335 Muslim, Christian, and Jewish Relations in the Middle East
ASTR 007 The Big Bang and Beyond
COML 200 Mythology
ENGL 359  Belief in the Age of the Enlightened Cosmopolite
FOLK 025 Magic, Science, and Religion
HIST 201 Tolerance, Then and Now
HIST 201.601 Scriptures in World History
HIST 234 The Catholic World: Medieval to Modern
HIST 313 Religion and Society in the Iberian World
HIST 325 Religion in American History
HIST 415 Seventeenth Century Intellectual History: Origins of Modernity
HSSC 001 The Emergence of Modern Science
HSSC 301 Science and Religion
LEAD 400 Global Leadership and Problem Solving
MUSC 150 Introduction to Global Music/ Thinking Globally about Music
PHIL 010 What is Life? A Philosophical and Scientific Exploration of Nature
PSCI 240 Religion and Public Policy
PSCI 275 Muslim Political Thought
PSCI 298 Spirited Debate
RELS 002 Religions in the West: Judaism, Christianity, Islam
RELS 107 Religion in Philadelphia
RELS 010 Religion in Public Life
RELS 111 Religion and Secular Values: Hip Hop Culture
RELS 133 Introduction to Christianity
RELS 144 Persian Mystical Thought: Rumi/ The Foundations of Islamic Mysticism
SAST 163 Introduction to Hinduism
SOCI 300 Religious Life at Penn
STSC 313 The Universe: Historical Inquiries in Physics, Philosophy, and Religious Belief



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In addition to these special events and for-credit courses, PRRUCS also supports a variety of programs for University of Pennsylvania students through the PRRUCS-Collegium Initiative, including Food for Thought, Faith & Reason, Medical Humanities Fellowship, Philosophy of Finance Fellowship, Legal Humanities Fellowship, and more.

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