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The Kateri 
Institute for
Catholic Studies

Serving the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

The Kateri Institute for Catholic Studies offers a home for faculty, staff, and students at the University of Michigan to integrate their studies with the Catholic intellectual tradition. 


The Life of the Mind Series

Our year-long lecture and seminar series for the 2022-2023 academic year.

The Life of the Mind is about asking the “big questions” of existence. Why is the natural world so beautiful? Why does it have an intelligible order? Why is there a world at all? The series is also concerned with “meaning of life” questions that can be postponed (especially in our endlessly distracting society) but never completely eradicated. Why are we here? Why must we die? How should we live? In short, the Life of the Mind series is devoted to contemplation of some of the most important questions ever asked. 

Each semester features a large public lecture and smaller dinner seminars (advanced registration is required for dinner seminars). Each semester has its own theme: Transcendentals in the Fall, and Ways of Thinking in the Winter. Lectures and seminars are presented by invited thinkers from a range of disciplines and institutions and are limited to twenty participants to facilitate discussion in a spirit of intellectual freedom and mutual respect. 

As our chaotic society reels from one crisis to another, students and faculty alike suffer from the absence of contemplative thinking among friends. The Life of the Mind will be a place where Wolverines can do that thinking and make those friends. This series, then, hearkens back to the original idea of the academy as a place where people gather to investigate meaning beyond the hurly-burly of everyday life.

Open Book

Schedule and Descriptions

The Life of the Mind is comprised of public lectures and invitation-only seminars. Each semester has its own theme: "Transcendentals" in the Fall, and "Ways of Thinking" in the Winter.


January 12: Alison Cornish, New York University "Heaven As A Way Of Thinking: Dante's Paradiso"

Lecture Is Free and Open to the Public

February 17: Helena Tomko, Villanova University "Destructive Thinking: Its History and How to Avoid It"

Application Deadline: February 10


April 14: Scott Lyons and Ellie Ettawageshik

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

"Thinking after the Sudden Collapse of Your Culture"

Application Deadline: April 7

Traditional Library

Apply for a Seminar

Seminar participation is limited to facilitate discussion in a spirit of intellectual freedom and mutual respect. Undergraduate and graduate students of UM are especially encouraged to apply. Dinner is served at all seminars, and light readings will be assigned.


You must complete an application to be considered for acceptance. Applications close one week before the seminar.


"The duty of an academic institution is in a certain sense: to give birth to souls for the sake of knowledge and wisdom, to shape minds and hearts."



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Image: St. Kateri Tekakawitha, Oil on Canvas, 2020, Joseph J. Macklin of the Instrumentum Dei Studio, Jackson, Michigan.

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