Perry-Collegium Initiative (PCI)
Engaging Faith & Reason in the University and the Modern World
In 2017, a generous gift from Molly Perry and James N. Perry, Jr., (C’82), then a member of the Penn School of Arts and Sciences (SAS) Board of Overseers, established a fund to deepen and extend the collaboration between PRRUCS and the Collegium Institute by supporting the Perry Executive Director of History, Religion, and Culture; the Perry Scholar-in-Residence; the Perry Family Scholars for Science, Spirituality, and Service initiative; the Perry Family Research and Service Fellowships, awarded to current Penn undergraduate students and/or recent graduates; and research fellowships and conferences to capitalize on the Penn Library’s temporary acquisition of the archive of the field-changing philosopher G.E.M. Anscombe. For the latest updates on Perry-Collegium projects, see here.
By 2020, two other generous and visionary Penn alumni, Francis J. Hager C’79 and Vincenzo La Ruffa C’02, supported these efforts that become known as the PRRUCS Perry-Collegium Initiative, or PCI. With Perry Executive Director Dr. Daniel Cheely at its helm, flanked by Perry Scholar-in-Residence Dr. J. Peter DiIulio C’12, in FY22 through FY31, PCI will build on the remarkable successes that PRRUCS and the Penn Library have had in working with the Collegium Institute (collegiuminstitute.org) to cultivate interdisciplinary reflection on fundamental human questions that engage traditions of faith and reason. Counted among these activities are the following:
Anscombe Archive Research & Teaching
According to Professor Michael Weisberg, Chairperson of the Penn Department of Philosophy and PRRUCS Senior Faculty Affiliate, G.E.M. (“Elizabeth”) Anscombe “was, perhaps, the most significant 20th century female analytic philosopher,” a world-renowned scholar and public intellectual whose “work spans many areas of contemporary concern especially in moral philosophy, the theory of free will, philosophy of religion, and philosophy of language.” While Anscombe is primarily associated with Oxford and Cambridge, where she became the principal translator and literary executor of Ludwig Wittgenstein, she also was regular Visiting Professor at Penn in the late 1960s and 70s.
In 2018, through a collaboration between the Penn Department of Philosophy, PRRUCS, Penn Libraries, and CI, the papers of G.E.M. Anscombe – a treasure trove contained in twenty-one archival boxes that deepen our understanding of her work – was transferred to Penn Library’s Kislak Center for Special Collections, where it will be housed and studied through at least June 2022. This momentous achievement was covered by Penn Today here.
To learn more about the archive or schedule a visit, see here.
PRRUCS appointed two annual positions – the John and Daria Barry Foundation Fellow and the James N. Perry Scholar– who dedicate substantial portions of their time to conducting research, writing, events and symposia related to the Collegium Institute Anscombe Archive at the University of Pennsylvania.
Through the Perry-Collegium Initiative, PRRUCS also collaborates with the Philosophy Department to host regular special events and archival workshops for scholars and students, as well as annual conference.
Science, Philosophy, and Religion
Among PRRUCS Senior Faculty Affiliates are distinguished scientists and philosophers of science who, in collaboration with the Collegium Institute, deliver lectures and courses, conduct seminars, and produce papers that explore the distinct but complementary approaches of science, philosophy, and religion to fundamental questions of the universe and of the place of the human within it. For instance:
Dr. Peter Dodson, a world-renowned paleontologist in the Penn School of Veterinary Medicine has authored the PRRUCS paper “On Fossils and Faith” and co-taught the PRRUCS-supported Philosophy course, Phil 010: What is Life? A Philosophical & Scientific Investigation of Nature.
Dr. Michael Weisberg, PRRUCS Senior Faculty Affiliate as well as Professor and Chair of Penn Philosophy and Director of the Penn Laboratory for Understanding Science (PLUS) regularly contributes to related special events, including an evening conversation with Brown University Professor and celebrated biologist Kenneth Miller on Darwin, God, and the Cosmos.
Dr. Jessie Taylor, a PRRUCS Senior Affiliate who completed her Ph.D. in Physics at Penn, co-taught with Dr. Cheely the PRRUCS-supported course, STSC 313: The Universe: Historical Perspectives from Traditions of Physics, Philosophy, and Religion. Dr. Marisa Cristina March, a former Penn post-doctoral fellow in astrophysics and astronomy conducting research on the Dark Energy Survey, authored the PRRUCS paper “Put Out into the Deep: Perspectives on the Relationship between Christian Faith and Contemporary Physics.” Dr. March, Dr. Taylor, and the inaugural PRRUCS Barry Fellow Dr. Janice Chik have organized many other special events and seminars on Science, Philosophy, and Religion, which can be found here.
Publications on Faith, Reason, and Civil Society
Publications on Faith, Reason, and Civil Society: Through the Perry-Collegium Initiative, PRRUCS produces an annual volume of essays by leading scholars on contemporary issues related to religion, freedom, and civil society that are accessible to a general audience; commissions occasional papers by its faculty, senior fellows, and affiliates; has sponsored major research projects across multiple universities that unearth the oral histories of religious movements and their role in modern politics; released significant empirical reports on the civic value of religious institutions, including the Hager Report; and partners with Collegium-affiliated journals, magazines, and media outlets to offer student fellows valuable experience in writing and publishing. For more information on PRRUCS publications, see here.
Student & Recent Alumni Fellowships
PRRUCS supports and guides students and recent alumni in individual research fellowships and faith-and-service-learning projects as well as in fellowship cohort programs in collaboration with the Collegium Institute such as Medical Humanities; Legal Humanities; Philosophy of Finance; and Theology & Scholarship. From 2019-20 alone, PRRUCS supported 186 fellows with 264 fellowships through these diverse fellowship programs. For more on these fellowships and fellows, see here.
Events & Seminars on Faith & Reason
With the support of PRRUCS Resident Programming Affiliates, the Perry-Collegium Initiative organizes and delivers numerous special events and seminars throughout the year that engage students and faculty in multiple disciplines and schools throughout the university as well as the broader public. Recent events have included:
- Dual Allegiances in America? Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspectives
- The Common Good and the Future of Capitalism
- To Whom Do Children Belong? Parental Rights, Religious Community, Civic Education, and Child Autonomy
- Humanities for Humanity: Towards an Ethic of Encounter and Civic Engagement
- Manufacturing Minds? A Magi Project Conversation on Neuroscience and Philosophy
For information and updates about special events and seminars, see here.