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A Summer Seminar for High School Students

Dates: Summer 2024 TBD

Place: Austin, Texas

If you want more information on next year's seminar for

 rising juniors and seniors, click the subscribe button.

What does it mean to be human?


This question is more important than ever in our frenzied age of materialism, unbridled technological advancement, and moral upheaval.


High school students who have finished their sophomore or junior years are invited to participate in a highly-interactive, week-long seminar that plumbs the depths of the human person.


Each day, we will address a different aspect of what it means to be human.
Daily topics will include:

  • A human person is an embodied soul.

  • A human person changes over time, and not always for the better.

  • A human person has a conscience and a moral sense.

  • A human person strives toward a specific goal, happiness.

  • A human person must discriminate between competing claims.


Led by experienced faculty members, students will examine these topics through both classical philosophical texts and literary works selected to put some flesh on the philosophical concepts we discuss. We will end each day with a concrete application of the concepts we have studied to some contemporary moral issue. For example, the day we discuss the human person as an embodied soul, we will wrestle with contemporary competing claims that the human person is nothing but matter and that the human person is primarily a soul whose material body doesn’t really matter that much. Armed with the wisdom of classic texts, students will leave better prepared to face the world – and more immediately, college.


Classroom instruction will be supplemented with outdoor activities, cultural outings, film viewings, and all the best Austin offers, so students can expect a generous dose of fun mixed in with their studies.



This seminar is open to high school students who will be entering their junior or senior year in the fall of 2023.


• Dr. Rachel Alexander Cambre

Postdoctoral Research Associate with the Program on Constitutionalism and Democracy and a Lecturer in the Department of Politics at the University of Virginia

• Dr. Paul Fortunato

Associate Professor of English, University of Houston Downtown

Registration Fee, Lodging, and Board


This seminar is hosted on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin. Men and women will be housed in separate wings at a private dorm. Resident Advisors will stay in the same wings as students to advise and assist them. A non-refundable $300 registration fee will be required of all accepted applicants to reserve a place in the seminar. This one-time fee partially covers the cost of tuition, room, board, and books. All other costs (except for travel expenses) are covered by our generous donors. Scholarships are available for those with financial need.

If you want more information on next year's seminar for

 rising juniors and seniors, click the subscribe button.

Application Requirements and Instructions

Application Deadline: TBD

We also ask that you submit the following materials along with your application. You can also email them to Dr. Marianna Orlandi at

  • One letter of recommendation from a high school teacher or private tutor.

  • A 500-word essay answering the following question from Plato's Meno: “Is virtue something that can be taught? Or does it come by practice? Or is it neither teaching nor practice that gives it to a man, but natural aptitude or something else?” (Meno, 70a).








Email Dr. Marianna Orlandi at

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