Progress Report: Virtue, Happiness, & the Meaning of Life


Reporting period January 1 – March 31, 2017

Our project continues to engage the public and influence the work of prominent scholars and graduate students here and abroad. We will hold our 4th Working Group meeting at the University of Chicago in June; Jean Porter will deliver our public lecture, which will be videotaped and streamed live on our site. We anticipate at least 150 people will attend her lecture in person. We are now accepting abstracts from our scholars for that meeting.


We have selected 25 students from 66 applications for our second Summer Seminar in June on “Virtue, Happiness, and Self-Transcendence,” and all have confirmed. We reserved Seminar space and lodging and finalized faculty selection and session topics.



Our second Visiting Scholar, Father Stephen Brock, Professor of Medieval Philosophy at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, is here teaching our second of two undergraduate courses at the University of Chicago, this time on “Aquinas on Human Nature.” The Reading Group, also led by Father Brock, is exploring “Free Choice and Natural Law.” Father Brock is also giving a public lecture May 12 on “Aquinas and the Life of the Mind.”


In January Jennifer Frey and 4 of our scholars discussed our project at the annual Jubilee Centre conference in Oxford, UK and Candace Vogler delivered a keynote address. Vogler met with people at the UChicago Booth School of Business to plan a public lecture, “Corporate Life and the Larger Good.” In February Vogler discussed our project at the UChicago medical school. In March Vogler delivered The Aquinas Lecture “The Intellectual Animal” and a talk on “Synderesis” at Blackfriars College, Oxford; gave a talk at the Georgetown Humanities Workshop on “Ordinary Moral Knowledge in the Climate of Doubt”; and spoke at the Faculty Seminar at Baylor University on “Intellectual Virtue.”



Our Aristotle workshop, titled “Aristotelianism: Past, Present, and Future,” takes place April 21-22, 2017 at the University of South Carolina, where our co-P.I. Jennifer Frey and several of our scholars will give papers. Portions of the conference will be videotaped and streamed live on our site. On May 4-6 our scholar Erik Agner will discuss our project at his Virtue conference in Stockholm. Our PIs Candace Vogler and Jennifer A. Frey will give the keynotes at this conference, discussing the themes of our grant. Frey’s talk will focus on self-love and self-transcendence and Vogler will be speaking about the natural habit of  “synderesis.” on On May 27, we co-sponsor an undergraduate class on Virtue taught by NY Times columnist David Brooks. On June 4 we begin our week-long Working Group meeting; on June 5, Jean Porter will deliver a public lecture on “Courage and Cowardice in Modern Life.”


New York Times columnist and PBS political analyst David Brooks, excited by our project, will lead a student seminar on Virtue at the University of Chicago on May 27, 2017. We have 15 confirmed presenters for our Capstone conference to be held in Chicago October 14-15, 2017. We are on schedule for our 2017 Capstone conference to be held October 14-15, 2017 at the University of Chicago. Cardinal Cupich and Jonathan Lear have agreed to be our keynote speakers, and we anticipate large audiences.


We have 16 articles published or accepted from our VHML project, toward our goal of 20 articles. Our social media shows growing public engagement, with thousands of visitors reading our Facebook and Twitter pages as well as our blog. From January through March 2017 our total page “likes” on Facebook in that period are 1,947, with 2.5K interactions (likes, loves) with our posts; for Twitter, we gained 71 new followers for a total of 1,279 followers, with 61.3K Twitter impressions and 1,395 profile visits; the Virtue Blog shows 6,492 total unique visitors and 11,139 views between January 2017 and April 2017; and our Virtue website shows 2,386 active users who viewed 6,849 pages of our content.