Music: Why we listen & Why we should

a Food for Thought module


When: Wed, 3/14 | 3/21 | 3/28 from 5:45-7:00 pm

Where: Harrison College House

Collegium and Harrison College House welcome students to this weekly dinner discussion exploring music and the role it plays–or should play–in our lives.  This series is directed by Professor Naomi Waltham-Smith of the Music Department. Join our relaxed community of committed students and professors each week for this musical exploration.

Food for Thought invites students to explore perennial questions with the aid of good food and powerful texts (or music) but without the pressure of grades or papers.

Free Texts and Dinner are provided for registered participants.

Reserve your free dinner and texts by emailing Elizabeth at

Professor Naomi Waltham-Smith

Naomi Waltham-Smith is a theorist of sound and listening. In her research and creative projects, she is interested in how music and sound are implicated in some of the most significant and urgent political issues in our world today. Her work sits at the intersection of continental philosophy, sound studies, and music theory, and her interests extend from late 18th- and early 19th-century music to contemporary urban sound ecologies, and from post-Kantian European thought to Kafka and casinos.

What is Humanity?

A Veritas Forum Event

When: Thursday, Mar. 22nd at 7:00 pm

Where: Annenberg School, Rm 110


Collegium joins the Veritas Forum of the University of Pennsylvania to welcome Dr. Rosalind Picard (MIT)to the 2018 Vertias Forum, in conversation with UPenn’s “Year of Innovation.”  Dr. Picard’s lecture will address what it means to be human in light of advancing technologies, such as those researched in the Affective Computing Research Group at the MIT Media Lab, of which Dr. Picard is the founder and director.  Dr. Michael Platt (Penn) will offer a response following the lecture.

RSVP Today

Any questions or comments may be directed to Elizabeth Feeney at elife@collegiuminstitute.orgRead more

Did Liberalism Fail?

When: Tues, March 27th, 12 noon

Where: Amado Room, Irvine Auditorium


Co-sponsored by the Penn Program for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society  and the Andrea Mitchell Center for the Study of Democracy

Of the three dominant ideologies of the 20th century–fascism, communism, and liberalism–only the last remains.  Could liberalism’s triumph be its own undoing?  Collegium Institute welcomes Prof. Patrick Deneen, the David A. Potenziani Memorial Associate Professor of Constitutional Studies at the University of Notre Dame, to Penn to discuss his new book on the roots of the American political project and its contemporary upheaval.

Response by Prof. Samuel Freeman, Avalon Professor of the Humanities, Professor of Philosophy and Law (Penn)

Register Today
for our Luncheon Lecture

Copies of Deneen’s Why Liberalism Failed will be made available for purchase at the event by representatives of the Penn Book Center.

Questions and comments can be directed to Elizabeth Feeney at

Our Keynote Speaker

Patrick J. Deneen holds a B.A. in English literature and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Rutgers University.  From 1995-1997 he was Speechwriter and Special Advisor to the Director of the United States Information Agency.  From 1997-2005 he was Assistant Professor of Government at Princeton University.  From 2005-2012 he was Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis Associate Professor of Government at Georgetown University, before joining the faculty of Notre Dame in Fall 2012.  He is the author and editor of several books and numerous articles and reviews and has delivered invited lectures around the country and several foreign nations.

Deneen was awarded the A.P.S.A.’s Leo Strauss Award for Best Dissertation in Political Theory in 1995, and an honorable mention for the A.P.S.A.’s Best First Book Award in 2000.  He has been awarded research fellowships from Princeton University and the Earhart Foundation.

His teaching and writing interests focus on the history of political thought, American political thought, religion and politics, and literature and politics.

Our Respondent

Samuel Freeman teaches courses on social and political philosophy, ethics, and philosophy of law at the University of Pennsylvania. He has written books on Justice and the Social Contract and on the political philosophy of John Rawls. His collection of papers, entitled Liberalism and Distributive Justice, is to appear in Spring 2018.  Freeman edited the Cambridge Companion to Rawls (2002), as well as John Rawls’s Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy (2007) and his Collected Papers (1999). He is currently working on a manuscript on liberalism.

Image: Congressional Pugilists, etching, 1798


What does Athens have to do with Jerusalem?

a Faith & Reason series



When: Fridays, 2:00 – 3:00 pm

Starting Friday, Feb. 9th

2/9 | 2/16 | 2/23 | 3/9 | 3/16 | 3/23

Tertullian’s famous question, “What does Athens have to do with Jerusalem?” was rhetorical: Tertullian blamed Greek philosophy for leading Christians away from the truth.  In this seminar, we will take up this question again, pursuing it in light of its many levels of meaning.  We will explore the relations between philosophy and Scripture, the natural intellect and matters of faith, in order to discern models for the Christian intellectual life.

For more information and to RSVP, contact Elizabeth Feeney at

Theory & Theology

a Graduate Fellows Initiative
  • January 8: Michel Foucault
  • February 5: Roland Barthes
  • March 5: Jacques Derrida
  • April 9: Affect Theory
  • May 7: Antonio Gramsci
The “household names” of the contemporary academy are often cited, but only occasionally read. The Collegium Institute invites graduate students to consider the work of these influential intellectuals under the auspices of its newest reading group: Theory and Theology. Designed for those with limited or no prior experience reading the authors, the group will examine one important text each month, sometimes in conjunction with a Christian text.  Meetings, convened at lunchtime on the first Monday of the month, are set to discuss the following: Michel Foucault, Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida, Affect Theory, and Antonio Gramsci.
Space is limited, so please contact Katie Becker at by to reserve your place.

Call for Undergraduate Collegium Fellows


Deadline for Applications: Dec. 31st


     Collegium undergraduate fellows serve on the executive committee of the Collegium Institute Student Association at Penn.  In that capacity, fellows help design Collegium undergraduate programming, committing to a minimum of two programming meetings per year.  Depending upon the fellows’ own particular interests, they might help design Food For Thought, the Paideia Seminar, the Faith & Reason seminar, as well as special events and new programs like Friday Underground Coffees and Faculty Table Talks.

    More broadly, the fellows form an intellectual community at Penn committed to exploring the past, present, and future of academic learning as a whole.  Student fellows show varying degrees of interest in the meaning of the liberal arts, the promise of the research university, and the study of the intellectual tradition of Catholicism or other religions in both contexts.  All, however, seek to reflect together upon the inter-relation of knowledge across the university.  They pursue the questions that transcend the disciplines, while striving to draw wisdom from each other in the process.

      To apply for an undergraduate fellowship, please submit a Statement of Interest in Collegium (150-300 words).  Your statement might relate to specific CI programs or more general questions, including but not limited to:

– the relationship between the liberal arts and cutting-edge knowledge

– the relationship between faith and reason

– the search for a meaningful humanism today

    Please note, the Fellows Program is open to Penn students of all faiths and of none.

    The review committee will continue to process applications until all spots are filled. Please direct all documents and questions to me at    

Darwin, God, and the Cosmos:

Is Faith Still Relevant in a

Scientific World?

When: Thurs, Nov. 30th at 7pm

Where: Stiteler Hall Rm. B6, 208 South 37th Street

Cosponsored by: Penn Laboratory for Understanding Science (PLUS), Penn Forum for Philosophy, Ethics, and Public Affairs, and the Program for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society (PRRUCS).  Funding by the John Templeton Foundation.

Modern science has its roots in western religious thought and owes some of its greatest discoveries to scientists who themselves were people of faith.  Nonetheless, on one issue after another, from evolution to the “big bang” to the age of the Earth itself, religion seems to be at loggerheads with scientific thought.  Perhaps, as some suggest, we are approaching the end of faith.  Is this conflict inevitable, or is there a way science can be understood and supported in a religious context?

Join The Magi Project as they welcome Prof. Kenneth Miller (Brown) for this keynote lecture approaching questions of conflict between religion and science through the contentious issue of biological evolution.


Questions can be directed to Elizabeth Feeney at Read more

Carols by Candlelight


When: Wed, December 6th, 5:30 pm

Where: Sts. Agatha and James Church

             3728 Chestnut St., Philadelphia


Collegium and the Church of Sts. Agatha and James welcome all to a joyful, ecumenical choral service celebrating Christmas with the Penn community.  Join fellow students, professors, and performing arts groups for an evening of Lessons & Carols.  The evening will conclude with a dessert reception.


Please direct any questions to Elizabeth Feeney at Read more

Faith and Reason Reading Group

When: Fridays, 2:00pm

9/22, 9/29, 10/13, 10/20, & 10/27

Co-sponsored by the Christian Union


To mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, Catholic and Protestant faculty will co-lead a community of Christian students through central texts of the Reformers and trace the evolution of their ideas through centuries of Christian tradition.  This fall module will convene on Friday afternoons for 6 sessions beginning Sept 22.

Register HERE!

Please direct any questions to Elizabeth Feeney: elife@sas.upenn.eduRead more