Programs

Program in Catholic Political Thought

At a time characterized by extreme polarization, alienation, and gridlock we need the wisdom of the Catholic tradition about political life more than ever. Where can we find it? There are very few academic institutions where a student interested in a career as a scholar and teacher can acquire a firm and deep grounding in the Catholic tradition of political thought. So what better place to start such a program than at the national university of the Catholic Church, The Catholic University of America? We have pontifical faculties of theology and philosophy and a department of politics. Between these three faculties and their members we are creating a place where students can acquire the tradition, scholars can extend and apply it, and the general public can look for it.

The centrality of conscience, the common good, subsidiarity, human dignity, human rights, and limited government: these are central values of the Western political tradition and were decisively shaped by the Catholic faith. The Program in Catholic Political Thought at CUA’s Institute for Human Ecology aims to make these ideas available to students in their original sources and with the aid of scholars committed to the truth.

Interdisciplinary Work, Academic Excellence

The Program draws on resources across the University to provide doctoral students with the means to acquire a comprehensive knowledge of the tradition of Catholic political thought by:

Program Leadership

Associate Professor of Philosophy, The Catholic University of America

V. Bradley Lewis, Ph.D.

Executive Director

Joseph Capizzi, Ph.D.

Russell Hittinger, PH.D.

Associate Professor of Philosophy, The Catholic University of America

V. Bradley Lewis, Ph.D.

Expertise: Political Philosophy, Jurisprudence, Ethics

V. Bradley Lewis, Ph.D. in Government and International Studies, is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at The Catholic University of America. Dr. Lewis specializes in political and legal philosophy. He has written articles on the political thought of Plato and Aristotle and on some figures in the neo-Thomist tradition, as well as on the topics of public reason and religious freedom.

Executive Director

Joseph Capizzi, Ph.D.

Expertise: Social Ethics, Moral Theology, Law and Religion

Joseph Capizzi, Ph.D. in Theology, is the Executive Director of the Institute for Human Ecology and an Ordinary Professor of Moral Theology at The Catholic University of America. He has published widely on just war theory, bioethics, the history of moral theology, and political liberalism. Dr. Capizzi worked as a research fellow at the VADM James B. Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership at the U.S. Naval Academy from 2013 to 2014.

Russell Hittinger, PH.D.

From 1996-2019, Dr. Hittinger was the incumbent of the William K. Warren Chair of Catholic Studies at the University of Tulsa, where he was also a Research Professor in the School of Law. Since May 2019 he is the Emeritus Professor of Religion.   

In 2019, he became the Senior Fellow at the Lumen Christi Institute at the University of Chicago, where he is a Visiting Scholar in the John U. Neff Committee on Social Thought, and Visiting Professor in the Law School at the University of Chicago.

From 2020 through 2022 he is a Visiting Professor at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology (Graduate Theological Union, University of California, Berkeley), where he has served as Dean of the College of Fellows since 2014. 

In January 2020 he gave the Aquinas Lecture at Blackfriars, Oxford.

Since 2001, he is a member of the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas, to which he was elected a full member (ordinarius) in 2004, and appointed to the consilium or governing board from 2006-2018. On Sept. 8, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Professor Hittinger as an ordinarius in the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, in which he finished his ten-year term in 2019.

In 2005, he was named an Alonzo MacDonald Senior Fellow for Christian Jurisprudence in the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University School of Law. He remains an Affiliated Scholar.

He has taught at Fordham University and at the Catholic University of America, and has taught as a Visiting Professor at Princeton University, New York University, Providence College, and Charles University in Prague. During the academic term 2014-15, he was a Visiting Ordinary Professor in the School of Business and Economics at the Catholic University of America.

On 25 May 2013, he was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters (Honoris Causa) by The Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA. He gave the 81st annual commencement address. He was elected Dean of the College of Fellows at Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology (Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley) in 2014.

In 2003, to mark the centenary of the death of Pope Leo XIII, Professor Hittinger gave a lecture to Ministry of Culture of the Italian Government. In 2004 he gave a talk titled “Secularity and the Anthropological Problem,” as the Inaugural Claude Ryan Lecture in Catholic Social Thought, at McGill University in Montreal. In December 2006, he addressed the President, Prime Minister, and Speakers of the Polish Parliament in the Royal Castle in Warsaw. His keynote address culminated a week-long celebration of human rights and the Polish constitution. 

In 2000, he was a Senior Research Fellow at the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture, where he is on the Board of Advisors. For the academic year 2007-08, he was the Robert J. Randall Distinguished Visiting Professor in Christian Culture at Providence College.

His books and articles have appeared through the University of Notre Dame Press, Oxford University Press, Columbia University Press, Fordham University Press, the Review of Metaphysics, the Journal of Law and Religion, the Review of Politics, and several law journals (both American and European). He has work forthcoming with Yale University Press and Catholic University of America press.