Princeton Initiative in Catholic Thought

The Princeton Initiative in Catholic Thought (PICT) is a program of the Aquinas Institute for Catholic Life (AICL) at Princeton University.  PICT brings the intellectual wisdom of religious traditions, especially the Catholic tradition, into the contemporary research university and into direct interaction with the most challenging and important questions in the academy and around the country.  With this work, PICT seeks to renew and reenergize the university by expanding the range of its questions and sources, while also helping religious traditions improve their visibility and ability to speak to the university. The modern university is often too narrowly focused and intellectually sclerotic as a result of artificially limiting its questions, methods, and sources. At the same time, religious thinkers often speak only to each other, thereby losing the opportunity to address their secular peers and extend their cultural influence. PICT aspires to help break down this mutually detrimental wall of separation by showing how religion can challenge, improve, and add to our common search for the truth about the most vital questions. For more info, contact Marcus Gibson (cmgibson@princetoncatholic.org) or Brandon Van Dyck (bvandyck@princetoncatholic.org).

The Diversity Project

Across the US, the ideals of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) have become widespread and institutionalized on university campuses and across the public, private, and non-profit sectors. The rise of DEI as a set of ideals and institutional practices both reveals and has contributed to significant division and polarization in the country. Many Americans energetically support DEI efforts; others vehemently oppose them. Despite the apparent impasse, many commitments are held in common. In 2023, PICT launched the Diversity Project, an effort to articulate these common commitments and broaden them by drawing upon theological tools and resources, especially from the Christian tradition. As the project’s first major contribution, PICT will host a two-day conference, DEI: Including Religious Perspectivesat Princeton on October 25-26, 2024. For conference queries, contact Brandon Van Dyck (bvandyck@princetoncatholic.org).

PICT has launched an accompanying video podcast series, Conversations on DEI and Theology, and Public Discourse has published two articles based on presentations from pre-conference working groups:

  1. Inclusion and Recognition: The Ancillary Values of Institutional DEI,” by James Greenaway.
  2. Social Wounds, DEI Advocacy, and the Good of Lamentation,” by Marcus Gibson.

After the conference, PICT will host a follow-up workshop that proposes concrete policy changes to restructure and improve DEI offices and practices within the context of universities, businesses, government, and law. Educational curricula will also be developed for possible use in schools across the country. In addition, the project will include formation programs directed and delivered by PICT’s team that engage Princeton students at the undergraduate and graduate levels during the lifetime of the project itself. These seminars and reading groups will introduce additional students to the offerings of both Aquinas and PICT. 

PICT Theology Reading Group

Throughout the academic year, PICT organizes a theology reading group (dinner provided) for graduate students and advanced undergraduates interested in deepening their study of Catholic thought. Meetings typically take place on Wednesdays throughout the academic term, 5:30-7pm, at the Aquinas Institute.  Past readings have included Augustine’s City of God, selected works on love and the will in Maximus the Confessor, Christological writings of Joseph Ratzinger, papal encyclicals, and contemporary studies in Christian virtue ethics and the thought of Saint Thomas Aquinas. For more info, contact Marcus Gibson (cmgibson@princetoncatholic.org).