This intensive seminar will discuss St. Thomas Aquinas’s Five Ways of proving the existence of a God and the conception that he thinks they yield: that of a God who is at once utterly simple and utterly perfect, and therefore utterly beyond our comprehension. The sessions will center on Summa theologiae, I, qq. 2-4—especially, of course, I, q. 2, a. 3, which contains the Five Ways themselves—and on selected texts from I, qq. 12 & 13.  Participants will also discuss relevant passages from other works of St. Thomas, as well as his historical influences and some related contemporary issues.

Format: There will be two 2 ½ hour sessions each day. Each session will include an opening lecture and seminar-style discussion of the text and the issues at hand. Students will be expected to prepare the readings carefully and participate in the discussions of the material.

Location: The seminar will take place at the University of Chicago. Students will be provided with meals during the seminar and a stipend for housing and travel.

Application Information: This seminar will be open to doctoral students in the humanities and relevant fields.

 Applicants will be required to submit:

  • A completed online application form.
  • An updated CV.
  • At least one and as many as two letter(s) of recommendation from a member of the program in which the student is currently enrolled.
  • A statement of research interest no longer than 750 words, which includes an explanation of how this seminar might bear on the student’s current or future research plans.
  • One academic writing sample (30 pages maximum).

All application materials can be submitted via the online application by 11:59pm CST on February 1, 2020 Incomplete applications will not be considered. Fifteen students will be admitted to this seminar.

Any further questions can be directed here.


Can I apply for more than one seminar? Yes. You may apply for multiple seminars. Please indicate your order of preference in your statement of purpose for each application. Each applicant may only be admitted to one seminar.

I am a PhD student graduating this academic year. Can I still apply? Yes!

I am currently an undergraduate or masters student, but have been admitted to a PhD program for the next academic year. Can I still apply?
Yes, please indicate this in the statement of purpose in your application.

I have attended a Lumen Christi Institute seminar in the past. May I still apply? Yes!

Do I have to be Catholic to apply? No. The Lumen Christi Institute exists to promotes the Catholic intellectual tradition and is committed to the integration of the intellectual and spiritual life. The Institute welcomes seminar participants of all or no religious affiliation, and wants to assure all applicants that the opportunities to participate in devotional activities are optional.

In addition to the travel stipend, are there other funding possibilities? Seminar participation includes an opportunity to give a formal presentation and inclusion in the official program and schedule. We encourage participants to seek funding from their home institutions or other sources to supplement the travel stipend offered by the Lumen Christi Institute.

When do I get my travel stipend? Stipends are distributed as a refund after successful completion of the seminar and seminar evaluations. Exceptions can be made on case by case basis.

Contact us with any further questions.