Virtue, Happiness, & the Meaning of Life: Onward


Just a few short years ago (September 2015) we celebrated as new signage outside our office was revealed – one of the first tangible proofs our project was “real.”

We’re grateful to the John Templeton Foundation for extending our grant through August 2018, and to our Working Group scholars, Summer Seminar scholars, Visiting scholars, and staff at both the University of Chicago and University of South Carolina, all of whom contributed to our mission exploring the interrelatedness of virtue, happiness, and deep meaning. Here is a short video capturing some of what happened in our two and half years.

Our website,, will remain available for those who wish to view the videos of our public events.

Our blog will continue as well, and will be managed by our co-principal investigator Jennifer A. Frey at the University of South Carolina. If you haven’t yet heard it, her new podcast  Sacred and Profane Love is gathering many loyal followers. She will continue to post about the podcast and philosophical content. She will also continue to feature guest bloggers here.

Some of you have asked what each of us will be doing next, so we have gathered our responses here:

Candace Vogler: 

“I have been drawing from our research on self-transcendence and orientation to a larger good to think about bringing character education to students working in economics and those working on degrees in Business.  I will be teaching a new course next Autumn called “Character and Commerce: Practical Wisdom in Economic Life” to this end (it will be listed as a recommended elective for undergraduates in the new business track in the economics major” and am developing a new course offering with Dennis Chookaszian for students at the Booth School of Business.  I will also be working with a new consortium of medical schools to help integrate character education into their programs.  I will continue to work with Hyde Park Institute to provide programming for students at the University of Chicago who are interested in integrating their intellectual and personal formation, and I will be continuing to work with our amazing scholars every chance I get.”

Jennifer A. Frey:

“I plan to take over the blog and continue the podcast as time allows.  Further episodes in the works include one with Dana Gioia, California’s poet laureate (to be recorded in LA in November; content TBD) and an episode with Justin Steinberg (Chicago) on Dante’s love for Beatrice.  After submitting edited volume number one (Virtue and Self-Transcendence: Perspectives from Philosophy, Psychology, and Theology) this week, I will be hard at work at edited volume number two, titled, Practical Reason, Knowledge, and Truth: Essays on Aristotelian Themes.  I have eight articles that are under contract to appear within the next year so I am hard at work on those (which are in various stages of production) in addition to my monograph, Action, Virtue, and Human Goodness.  I’ve got upcoming talks this year so far at  Berkeley, Brown, UT-Austin, Duke, Columbia, Williams College, Liverpool, and the Royal Institute of Philosophy in London.  I submit for tenure in April (yikes!) and then my husband and I are taking our six children on a European adventure; we plan to stay for a month in Rome where I’ll be teaching Honors College students, and then traveling around Italy (especially the north) on our way to Germany, where we will stay in Leipzig and Bamberg for a bit to do some philosophy and hang out with friends.”

Jaime Hovey:

“I am teaching in American Studies at DePaul University, and in Gender Studies online at the University of Mississippi. I will continue working on Virtue, Trans Masculinity, and  Queer Gallantry in 20th-century and contemporary texts.”

Valerie Wallace:

“My new book of poems, House of McQueen, came out this year, and I’ll continue to travel to support its publication, giving readings, talks, and participating in conference panels. I am in the application process to find a new work home in communications/marketing, and will continue teaching literature and English for City Colleges of Chicago.”


We hope you will continue to be interested in virtue and virtue education, and encourage you to follow some of the institutes and scholars you have found here in the blog. As we turn the page of this chapter, we thank you, our readers, and offer this last stanza from “To Be of Use” by Marge Piercy as we say farewell, and reflect on the wonderful work we’ve done here, with you. Onward! To work, and the world.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.