Summer Seminars


Elm Seminars in a Minute...

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Information for our 2018 summer seminars will be posted in December.


2017 Seminars

The Ethics of Work and Leisure

June 4 to June 9

Faculty: Jacob Howland (University of Tulsa) and James Murphy '80 (Dartmouth College)

A seminar about the meaning and value of work and leisure in human life, with readings drawn from classic and contemporary sources, including Aristotle and Aquinas, Adam Smith and Karl Marx, Joseph Pieper and Juliet Schor.


Markets and Morals

June 11 to June 16

Faculty: Jesús Fernández-Villaverde (University of Pennsylvania) and Peter Wicks (Elm Institute)

Are there moral limits on what may be bought and sold? What is the relationship between a thing’s price and its value? Is voluntary exchange always just? A seminar addressing these and related questions with readings drawn from the works of Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and John Stuart Mill, as well as a range of contemporary thinkers including Alasdair MacIntyre, Deirdre McCloskey, and Debra Satz.


The Economy and The Family

July 30 to August 4

Faculty: Jerry Muller (Catholic University of America) and Amy Wax '75 (University of Pennsylvania)

What is the relationship between the economy and family structure?  How does familial origin influence economic success or failure? How should we understand the relationship between our commitments to the self, the family, and economic attainment? An interdisciplinary seminar examining these and related questions from a variety of perspectives: historical, social scientific, legal, and ethical.


The Search for Order In History

July 23 to August 4

Faculty: Thomas D’Andrea (University of Cambridge) and James L. Nolan, Jr. (Williams College)

A two-week seminar on the search for right order in human affairs and the foundations of political society, examined through a close study of the work of three seminal thinkers: Alexis de Toqueville, Etienne Gilson, and Eric Voegelin. The seminar is intended for advanced undergraduates and graduate students with interests in moral philosophy, politics, sociology, and economics.




These seminars are aimed primarily at upper-level undergraduates and pre-dissertation graduate students, but others are welcome to apply.  Applicants must be above the age of 18.


Thanks to the generosity of our donors, this year we are able to offer these seminars to students at a small fraction of their true cost.  A non-refundable registration fee of $200 ($400 for The Search for Order in History) is asked for overhead purposes, while tuition, lodging, and food — hosted in Yale classrooms, housing, and dinning halls — are covered free of charge for each seminar.  Reading materials are also provided free of charge and sent to participants approximately one month before the beginning of each seminar.

Application Period for Summer 2017 has now ended



My experience at the Elm Institute's "Markets and Morals" seminar deepened my understanding of fundamental ethical questions. The faculty members shared original insights and gave us a forum to discuss and develop our own ideas on the topics. Even more special were the evening and between-class activities—I got to know so many interesting and impressive people. I can't recommend Elm seminars highly enough!
Luke Waggoner, Villanova University `16

I am grateful to Elm Institute for such an incredible experience last August. It made me understand some point about the role of State, the importance of civil activism and some deep questions concerning the human nature. Prior to the seminar, I had never had the opportunity to reflect in such a way. I strongly encourage you to keep working on this project that can make a big intellectual difference in people’s life. Influencing young people can lead us to a completely different intellectual destiny. Thank you for influencing mine.
— Ana Luiza Gomes, Universidade de São Paulo `16

With the Elm Institute, I had the opportunity to read excellent texts and learn with prestigious faculty and a diverse group of undergraduates, graduate students, and young professionals from all over the world. I studied in a community of scholars dedicated to good conversation, truly interdisciplinary learning, and academic integrity. I am incredibly grateful for my time at Elm!
— Emmalee Moffitt, Templeton Honors College at Eastern University `16

Wonderful! I liked how much freedom we had and how supportive Elm has been in helping us have a great time cultivating friendships over the past two weeks. 
— Anne Knechtges, North East Catholic College `15

I really enjoyed how the seminar classes went, they were dynamic and we had enough time to express our opinions. The best part was that we got to hear not only the opinions of the professors, which were great, but also of the students. 
— Eduardo Folly Guenka, Instituto Mauá de Tecnologia `15