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


Should we continue to promote Human Existence?

Annual Humanities Forum

When: Tues, Feb. 27th at 12 noon

Where: Ben Franklin Room, Houston Hall


Collegium Institute welcomes keynote speaker, Dr. Remi Brague, Emeritus Professor of Medieval and Arabic Philosophy at the University of Paris, to the University of Pennsylvania to defend the legitimacy of humanity in spite of the challenges of the Anthropocene.  This luncheon program will include a lecture by Dr. Brague, followed by comments and a short Q & A.


Questions and comments may be directed to Elizabeth Feeney at elife@collegiuminstitute.orgRead more

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

Speaking Truth to Power:

How much free speech is necessary at the university today?

A Food for Thought Module

When: Wed, 1/31 | 2/7 | 2/14 | 2/21; 5:45 — 7:00 pm

Where: Harrison College House

Not since the 1960’s has there been so much speech about speech on college campuses.  Such conflicts challenge us to reflect upon issues fundamental to the university itself, including the purpose of education, the freedom of inquiry, the power of language, and the moral boundaries of community.  Join us on our quest to make sense of what’s at stake and to grapple together toward a way forward, building upon the centuries-long debate among Plato, John Stuart Mill, Judith Butler, George Orwell, and others in a relaxed community of committed—if not necessarily like-minded—students.

Food for Thought invites undergraduate students of the University of Pennsylvania to explore perennial questions with the aid of good food and powerful texts 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

“To Be Deep in History:” Newman on the Gift of Tradition

When: Thurs, Feb 8, 2018 at 7:00 pm

Where: Penn Newman Center, Upper Lounge

3720 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA, 19104


2nd Annual John Henry Newman Lecture


Professor Thomas Pfau

Duke Divinity School


This lecture will explore J. H. Newman’s understanding of tradition and its relevance for humanistic and theological inquiry today. Newman is the first to contest the Enlightenment’s critique of tradition as backward, static, and as inherently prejudicial to social, political, and intellectual progress. Moving beyond the prevailing cultural and intellectual movements of the Romantic era – those of historicism and sentimentalism – Newman’s 1845 Idea of Development of Christian Doctrine outlines an understanding of tradition that proved remarkably prescient of developments in twentieth-century philosophical theology and scriptural hermeneutics. Above all, Newman shows that the many voices that comprise a tradition amount to a gift of sorts. We honor it by receiving it, not as a possession but as a temporary trust, a palimpsest of voices inviting us to interact with them and, in so doing, discover and cultivate our own voice and reason.

Join the Collegium Institute and the Penn Newman Center for this annual lecture marking the legacy of the University of Pennsylvania as the first Newman club in the United States.


Please direct any questions or comments to Elizabeth Feeney at elife@collegiuminstitute.orgRead more