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Philosophy & Religion Programs


Shedding Light on Plato's Republic

Wednesday, April 5, 2023 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET

For many people, tackling The Republic feels daunting. That’s why Georgetown professor Joseph Hartman is offering this illuminating four-session book discussion. Highlighted are some of the central themes, questions as relevant today as they were in 4th-century Athens.


What Were They Thinking?: The Philosophies of Maimonides and Aquinas

Wednesday, April 12, 2023 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET

Maimonides and St. Thomas Aquinas, the two pre-eminent Jewish and Christian thinkers of the medieval period, shared a passion for applying the rationalist methods of Aristotle to questions of belief. Ori Z. Soltes, author and Georgetown University professor, considers how these two gigantic thinkers differ and where they share common ground, both generally and in particular, and how they offer relevance to our own world of thought and action.


How Culture Works: Driven by the Intersection of Peoples

Monday, April 17, 2023 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Two faculty members of Harvard University, Martin Puchner, a professor of English and comparative literature, and Maya Jasanoff, a professor of history, converse on how humanity has sought to understand and transmit to future generations the meaning and purpose of our existence, as expressed in art, architecture, religion, and philosophy.


The French Wars of Religion, 1559-1598: Reform and Conflict

Thursday, April 20, 2023 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

During the second half of the 16th century, France was near anarchy, torn apart by vicious cycles of violence between Catholics and Protestants. Historian Alexander Mikaberidze discusses the complex origins of the Wars of Religion in France and provides concise analysis of the wars, their social and economic toll, and the lasting impact of political ideas that they generated.


Notes on Complexity: Connection, Consciousness, and Being

Monday, May 15, 2023 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

Complexity theory addresses the mysteries that animate science, philosophy, and metaphysics: how the teeming array of existence, from the infinitesimal to the infinite, is a seamless living whole and what our place, as conscious beings, is within it. Physician, scientist, and philosopher Neil Theise discusses this “theory of being,” one of the pillars of modern science, and its holistic view of human existence.


How Catholic Art Saved the Faith

Wednesday, May 17, 2023 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Not long after Martin Luther’s 95 Theses were posted in 1517, dialogue between Protestants and Catholics broke down and devastating religious wars erupted across Europe. Desperate to restore the peace and recover unity, the Catholic church turned to its longtime allies, the arts. Art historian Elizabeth Lev traces how prelates enlisted the century’s best artists to create a glorious wave of beautiful works of sacred art to draw people together instead of driving them apart. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)


The Mosque: Linking Religious and Architectural Traditions

Tuesday, May 23, 2023 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

The mosque is the defining element of an Islamic community. While there are a few essential components of a mosque, over time and across geographies an astonishing variety of form, building materials, and decoration in mosque architecture developed. Nancy Micklewright, a specialist in the history of Islamic art and architecture, offers a close look at some of the most iconic and spectacular examples of mosques from a variety of parts of the Islamicate world and how these buildings maintain a connection with a building tradition that stretches back to the 7th century CE. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)


A Journey through Ancient China

Wednesday, May 24, 2023 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

This series takes you on a thematic tour of four important topics in ancient Chinese history, the first session focusing on religion. Justin M. Jacobs, a professor of Chinese history at American University, gives you a nuanced overview based on the latest scholarship and illustrated with copious slides.  


Quakers and the Birth of the Antislavery Movement

Tuesday, June 13, 2023 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

As members of the Religious Society of Friends, Quakers in colonial America were the first group of white Christians to confront slaveholding as a religious problem that demanded social action. Historian Richard Bell recounts this untold story, focusing on the dramatic antislavery crusades and wildly different tactics of three 18th-century Quakers: Benjamin Lay, a hermit; John Woolman, a shopkeeper; and Anthony Benezet, a schoolteacher.


The Real Lives of Jews in the Traditional World

Thursday, June 22, 2023 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

Jews through the ages were seen as pious and thoroughly immersed in Jewish life, standing apart, often by force, from their non-Jewish neighbors. But rare materials in the Jewish Theological Seminary Library offer a different, more nuanced picture. David Kraemer, the library’s director, examines how specific communities of Jews lived with their neighbors, experiencing life first as human beings and then as Jews.


Exploring Ancient Anatolia: A Turkish Odyssey

Wednesday, November 8, 2023 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET

Anatolia’s colorful history has left a windfall of riches—ancient ruins, ornate Byzantine churches, supremely elegant mosques, and splendid Ottoman palaces. In an illustrated series, Serif Yenen, a Turkish-born tour guide and author, highlights the heritage and splendor of ancient Turkey through an examination of some of its cultural gems.