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    

The Legacy of the Reformation

After 500 Years

To commemorate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, Prof. Carlos Eire (Yale) returned to Penn to provide a reflection on the lasting legacy of the Reformation.  Listen below to hear some of his thoughts on the Reformation, its influence, and its commemoration through history.

Stay tuned for a video of the lecture and a personal interview with Prof. Eire about his recent book, Reformations (2016).

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


How to Assess Science Fiction and the Best (or Worst) Possible Worlds

When: Wednesdays, 11/1, 11/8, & 11/15, 5:45pm-7:15pm

Where: Harrison College House


What would the ideal world look like?  What role would technology play in that ideal world?  We will search for the answers to these questions and more through the world of science fiction and short stories.  Together with a faculty moderator, we will explore imaginary worlds of film and literature to better understand the goals and desires of our own.

RSVP to Elizabeth Feeney if you are interested in attending



Food for Thought is a seminar for engaging foundational questions without the stress of grades or papers.  This informal seminar forum setting provides an opportunity to read and discuss some of the most influential and provocative thinkers of the ancient and modern Western Tradition.

Yoga & Catholic Novels:

How to Make Sense of Religion in the Modern World


When: Tuesday, Nov. 14th at 7:00 pm

Where: Penn Newman Center, 3720 Chestnut St

Join Collegium Institute and the Penn Newman Center for a keynote lecture by returning Collegium Faculty Fellow, Prof. Clemens Cavallin on expressions of religion in modern society. Dr. Cavallin will explore these modern expressions of ritual practice and show us what religious significance of contemporary cultural phenomena, including mainstream yoga and Catholic apocalyptic novels.

Please direct any questions to Program Coordinator, Elizabeth Feeney:

Prof. Clemens Cavallin

Dr. Clemens Cavallin is Senior Lecturer and Associate Head of Department for Internationalization at the Department of Literature, History of Ideas, and Religion at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. He is Visiting Instructor of Religion & STINT Fellow in the Department of Religion at Haverford College, Pennsylvania, during the fall semester 2013. Dr. Cavallin’s research interests are broad and include Hinduism, Ritual theory and Catholic Studies. His thesis The Efficacy of Sacrifice (2002) was within the first field, more precisely focusing on Vedic sacrifices, while his second book, Ritualization and Human Interiority (2013) is within the second field of ritual theory. He most recent work, On the Edge of Infinity, to be published this year, is a biography on Canadian Catholic artist and novelist, Michael D. O’Brien.

Currently, he is directing the research project Religion on Campus: A Study of Views on Religion at Two Indian Universities together with professor Åke Sander. The focus is on the relation between Indian forms of secularity and the academic study of religion.   In 2017, he will begin to work on a new research project called Christian Yoga which will investigate Christian responses to the popular modern forms of yoga.


Homecoming at Penn

A Day of Celebration and Community

When: Saturday, Nov. 4th, various times

Where: Penn Newman Center, 3720 Chestnut St


Collegium Institute and Penn Newman cordially welcome Penn Alumni and families to our Homecoming celebrations on Saturday, November 4th with opportunities to discover anew the Catholic and scholarly community at Penn, both past and present.

Alumni Open House: 10 am

Start your day with a Meet & Greet of Penn Quakers and families over a light breakfast.

Vigil Mass: 5:30 pm | with a Wine + Cheese Reception following at 6:30 pm

Penn students invite alumni to join them for a Sunday Vigil mass at St. Agatha-St. James at 5:30, featuring the Newman student choir, followed by a Wine & Cheese reception with current students and Collegium’s new Theologian-in-Residence.


Any questions can be directed to Elizabeth Feeney (COL 2015):

Collegium Institute for Catholic Thought & Culture

Founded by faculty, alumni, students, and friends of Penn, the Collegium Institute is an independent organization that seeks to enrich academic culture by sharing the intellectual fruits of the Catholic tradition with a mainstream audience, both secular and religious, and by supporting scholarship, teaching, and learning that engages across the disciplines.

The institute’s name, collegium, serves as a reminder that the pursuit of knowledge, which is the principal object of all universities, is a communal enterprise. Its flourishing depends upon its members working together to cultivate certain virtues of mind and character, such as humility, trust, honesty, justice, and the love of truth. By witnessing to these enduring virtues, the Collegium Institute aims to serve contemporary academia and become a vibrant center of learning within it.

Penn Newman Catholic Community

Our mission is to support, challenge, inspire and empower students, faculty and staff to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ on campus. We prepare Catholic leaders for service to the Church and world.

Seeing Reality:

Conversations in Science, Faith, and Philosophy




In June 2017, esteemed scientists across the academic disciplines joined Rev. Fr. Andrew Pinsent (Oxford University & Director of the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion) in presentations on our place in the universe and the various methodological approaches we may take to answer such a question.  Audio of their lectures can be hear in full on Collegium’s new playlist, Seeing Reality. 

Lecturers include: Rev. Fr. Andrew Pinsent, Prof. Hans Halvorson (Princeton), Prof. Karin Öberg (Harvard), and Prof. Marie George (St. John’s University).


More information about the Magi Project: Religious Belief in the Era of Modern Astrophysics and recent initiatives,

please visit Here.

The Legacy of the Reformation After 500 Years

When: Wednesday, Oct. 25th, 12pm-1pm, with lunch reception to follow

Where: Wolf Auditorium, McNeil Center for Early American Studies

Co-sponsored by the Wolf Humanities Center, the Program for Research on Religion in Urban Civil Society (PRRUCS), Global Medieval Studies, the Department of History, and the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.  

To mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the Collegium Institute presents a keynote lecture by Carlos Eire, the T. Lawrason Riggs Professor of History and Religious Studies at Yale University and author of the recent monograph, Reformations (Yale, 2016). Professor Eire’s lecture will be followed by a comment from Professor Margo Todd, Walter H Annenberg Professor of History at Penn, and conclude with a luncheon reception.


Please RSVP HERE to reserve your seat for the lecture and luncheon.

Please direct any questions to

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