Upcoming Events & Courses

Featured 2021 and 2020 Events

As Earth Without Water: An Evening with Novelist Katy Carl

Monday, December 13, 2021 | 7:00 – 8:00pm

In this evening conversation, we will encounter the debut novel by Katy Carl, As Earth without Water. Christopher Beha, editor of Harper’s Magazine describes the novel as a “sharp and moving meditation on freedom, choice, and the creative life. Katy will read from her novel and participate in a discussion about the text with Joshua Hren, editor-in-chief of Wiseblood Books.

Catholic MidCentury Modern: The Church & Other Possible Modernities

Monday, December 6, 2021 | 7:00 – 8:30pm

In the ferment of the mid 20th-Century, Catholic writers and artists sought to develop a new, distinctly Catholic, modernity. They navigated the political challenges of fascism, communism, and liberalism. In this event, we look to the history of MidCentury Catholicism, with figures like Georges Rouault, the Maritains, Dorothy Day, and Claude McKay, and its response to the cultural, intellectual, and political ferment of the 1920s-60s. What can we learn from these great figures as 21st Century people grapple with the challenges of our century? 

The Women Are Up to Something

Tuesday, November 4, 2021 | 12:00 – 1:15pm

Join Collegium Institute for a conversation with Benjamin J.B. Lipscomb, a philosophy professor at Houghton College specializing in ethical theory, the history of ethics, biomedical ethics, agrarianism, and legal interpretation. He is principally concerned with character formation. Lipscomb has contributed to a collection on Immanuel Kant, and his current project is a group biography on Elizabeth Anscombe, Philippa Foot, Mary Midgley, and Iris Murdoch.

Anscombe and Moral Prohibition

Tuesday, October 19, 2021 | 7:00 – 8:15pm

Join Collegium Institute for a special evening lecture featuring Dr. Candace Vogler, David B. and Clara E. Stern Professor of Philosophy at the University of Chicago. The topics of Dr. Vogler’s wide-ranging research include ethics, social and political philosophy, philosophy and literature, cinema, psychoanalysis, gender studies, and more.

Elizabeth Anscombe famously suggested that if we couldn’t understand the basis of moral prohibition, then we couldn’t do moral philosophy at all. Like Peter Geach, she held that Aristotle was of no help in understanding moral prohibition.

Anscombe &: The History of Philosophy according to Elizabeth Anscombe

Tuesday, September 21, 2021 | 7:00 – 8:00pm

In this reading series, we will consider G.E.M. Anscombe in dialogue with major thinkers from the history of philosophy. Where Anscombe could have avoided such engagement (following her teacher Wittgenstein or certain trends in Anglo-Analytic philosophy) she instead regularly grappled with major figures from the canon. With each reading, we will take up Anscombe’s relation with a certain figure and a central question that she was trying to unfold through her conversation with the masters.

Probing the Shallows of the Unknown: A Magi Project Evening Conversation

April 8, 2021 | 7:00 – 9:00pm

At the heart of the human quest for understanding lies a paradox: the more we discover, the more we realize how much is yet unknown. From a young age, Marcelo Gleiser writes of his attunement to this paradox: “Growing up in Rio de Janeiro, I couldn’t possibly neglect the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean right in front of me…To me the beach was a portal into the unknown. I marveled at the joining of the ocean and the sky at the horizon, the huge ships emerging from behind top-first, proof of the curvature of the Earth. There was more to it than just the sand and the waves. There was a vast network of living creatures underneath the surface, mysterious and unreachable.”

The State of Religious Freedom: A 2021 Global Survey

March 23, 2021 | 10am – 12:00pm

This past year, religion has been re-envisioned in many quarters as part of a public health problem. What implications does that have for the future of religious freedom? Must communities hereafter confront a difficult decision to make themselves either safe for religion or safe from it? How does this issue in the United States look different when approached from a global perspective? These questions and more will be considered by a multi-faith panel of leading thinkers, activists, and international field workers.

Religion after the Pandemic: Forecasting the Global Future of Faith

March 5, 2021 | 12pm – 1:30pm

Religion after the Pandemic

Even before 2020, religions worldwide were enduring a period of turbulence, marked by rapid demographic change, a transformation of attitude to gender and sexuality, and a larger crisis of institutional and organizational faith. Already, we were hearing grim prophecies about imminent secularization, and the growth of those citing their religious affiliation as “None.” Since 2020, the pandemic has raised fundamental questions about collective worship, about participation, and how we “do” religion. What will all this mean for the future of faith, not just in the United States, but globally? 

Deep in History: On Christian Genealogical Thinking

December 9, 2020 | 7-8:30pm

Deep in HIstoryHow can the study of history be a source of deepening theological commitments? What are the roots of Christian interest in history? Ultimately, how can a consideration of time lead us to a better understanding of the timeless? Join PRRUCS and the Collegium Institute for an evening conversation exploring how and why Catholics can think about history in order to deepen our understanding of the faith.

Manufacturing Minds? An Evening Conversation with Profs. William Hurlbut and William Newsome

November 17, 2020 | 7pm – 8:30pm

Manufacturing MindsCan human minds be manufactured? What is the meaning of consciousness, and how might neuroscientists resolve the mysteries of mind and its implications for decision making? Please join us for a conversation with two eminent Stanford neuroscientists, Prof. William Newsome (Vincent V.C. Woo Director of the Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute) and Prof. William Hurlbut, MD (Stanford Medical School) on these questions.

Just Price and a Coronavirus Vaccine: Perspectives from Modern Economics, Public Health, and the Thomistic Tradition

October 26, 2020 | 7pm – 8:30pm

Event - COVID VaccineWhat happens when we finally find the vaccine that the world has been waiting for since the year began: who gets it? Just as importantly, who determines who gets it and on what basis? If our pluralist society lacks a common ethical framework, how much more challenging will it be to settle on one that adequately addresses a global pandemic. Which traditions of moral philosophy can we draw from to derive judgments about the distribution of the coronavirus vaccine that are fair and just and that also account for the conditions of production?

The United Nations at 75: Catholic Perspectives

October 22, 2020 | 3pm – 4pm

UN EventThis panel discussion explores the history of the Holy See’s relations with the United Nations, the role of lay Catholics and Church leaders in developing the human rights tradition, and the growing role of Catholic NGOs as they work alongside the UN for justice, peace, religious freedom, and integral human development around the world. Moderated by Paolo Carozza (Notre Dame)

Writing Between Cultures: Catholicism of Endō, Greene, McKay & Xuelin

September 17, 2020 | 7pm – 8:30pm

Writing Between Cultures_ Exploring the Catholicism of Shūsaku Endō, Graham Greene, Claude McKay, and Su XuelinJoin the Collegium Institute and PRRUCS for an online evening panel discussion as we look at how literature can help us understand Catholicism in global contexts by exploring the complexity of living and writing between cultures. Endo, Greene, McKay, and Xuelin wrote from their own experiences of transnational life while also expressing differing relationships to Catholicism. Each of these authors had deep, though complicated, relationships with the Church and found powerful ways to express that in their writing. We hope, in looking to these writers, to see new ways of dealing with contemporary issues, while also dealing with the beauty and meaning of their literary creations.

Humanities for Humanity: Towards an Ethic of Encounter & Civic Engagement

September 10, 2020 | 7:30pm – 9pm

Humanities for Humanity_ Towards an Ethic of Encounter and Civic EngagementJoin the Collegium Institute and PRRUCS we as explore the ways in which the humanities—both as a field of study and as an area of creative expression—provides ways of thinking that strengthen our civic engagement. The hope is to consider the deep value of humanities for human life in a way that does not subordinate it to politics but also does not detach it from the life of political communities. We will consider the value of humanistic study both as a timeless pursuit and in relation to the pressing challenges of civic engagement that confront us now.

On the State of the Church in China: An Evening with Cardinal Zen

February 18, 2020 | 6pm – 7pm

On the State of the Church in ChinaPlease join the Penn Catholic Newman Community and the Collegium Institute for Catholic Thought & Culture for this most rare opportunity to converse with Joseph Cardinal Zen, Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong. Cardinal Zen has been a heroic witness for the suffering yet growing Church in China for the last four decades and was notoriously labeled a member of the Hong Kong “Gang of Four” by Mainland Chinese state media.

Dual Allegiances in America: Christian, Jewish & Muslim Perspectives

February 12, 2020 | 12pm

Dual Allegiances in America_ Christian, Jewish & Muslim PerspectivesThis event seeks to foster dialogue on the relationships between religious traditions and civic identity, citizenship, and the American legal tradition. It will focus on the ways in which religious communities have answered charges of civil disloyalty and how religious believers representing Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions in America have understood and shaped their overlapping, sometimes conflicting, religious and political identities. 

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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