July 2019

The Civitas Dei Summer Fellowship (sponsored by the Thomistic Institute and the Institute for Human Ecology) supported rising scholars seeking to better understand the Catholic intellectual tradition. This summer’s program examined the search for happiness as a fundamental end of the person and the polis.

The week-long seminar introduced the 40 participants to foundational themes in philosophy, political theory, and theology, dealing with law, personhood, political life, and the search for happiness. The focus was an introduction to foundations of political and moral theory of Augustine, Aquinas, and modern constitutional jurisprudence. The program included visits to institutions in Washington, DC, as well as encounters with outstanding Catholic public figures. The seminar was an excellent way to think theoretically about the intersection of political theory, moral principles, and practical engagement, in the heart of the nation’s capital.

Speakers included: Adrian Vermeule — Ralph S. Tyler, Jr. Professor of Constitutional Law; Fr. Aquinas Guilbeau, O.P. — Professor of Moral Theology, Dominican House of Studies; Chad C. Pecknold — Ph.D., Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, The Catholic University of America; R.R. Reno — Editor, First Things Magazine; and John Demers — Assistant Attorney General of the National Security Division, U.S. Justice Department.

Topics covered:

  • Dr. Chad Pecknold examined Saint Augustine’s “City of God” throughout the week.
  • Fr. Aquinas discussed “The Love of the Common Good as Good,” based on the writings of Saint Thomas Aquinas, all week.
  • Professor Adrian Vermeule discussed conflicting legal philosophies contained in several Supreme Court cases and led discussions on Saint Thomas Aquinas’s views on law from the Summa.
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