Catholic Social & Political Thought Initiative

The Catholic Social & Political Thought initiative is devoted to the investigation of Catholicism’s rich intellectual and cultural heritage. From art and architecture to poetry and literature, from food and environmentalism to economic and political thought, the CSPT initiative continues the UW’s ecumenic and public spirit by promoting the teaching, research, and critical investigation of the Catholic tradition by engaging a diverse audience, both secular and religious.

Fellows Program

As part of the Catholic Social & Political Thought Initiative, the CSLD supports a Student Fellows Program. This program offers a unique opportunity for students to pursue academic interests related to knowledge and appreciation of Catholic heritage, including the exploration of Catholic social and political thought, history, religion, architecture, art, music, and literature. The program will allow students to conjoin their UW-Madison academic experience and career paths with Catholicism’s rich intellectual, moral and cultural heritage. Each year we select up to twelve CSPT Fellows to participate in the program, which may  include conferences, Catholic cultural encounter trips, academic seminars, debates, reading groups, research opportunities, public lectures, and service opportunities. Apply here.



Upcoming Events

Cultural Field Trip: Dante 360

The Athaneum Center, Chicago

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Leaving Madison at 10:00 a.m. for 2:00 p.m. matinee. Email Professor Klingele for more information.


Ongoing Events

CSPT Reading Group

All students are invited to the drop-in CSPT reading group, which meets every other Tuesday from 9/26-12/5 at 6:30-8:00 p.m. in the Meiklejohn House (228 N Charter St, Madison, WI 53715).

The theme for Fall 2023 is Freedom and Identity: Catholic Understandings of Person, State, and Society.  Free copies of each session’s readings are available in both hard copy and electronically. Refreshments provided.

(Reading group topics change each semester. Past topics have included St. Augustine’s Confessions; Catholic short stories; and a survey of social encyclicals.)



Past Events

Catholic Perspectives on Criminal Justice Reform: A Scholarly Colloquium

February 10-12, 2021
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Conference organized by Professor Cecelia Klingele, University of Wisconsin Law School


On the Occasion of the 899th Anniversary of the Concordat of Worms: “Who Belongs to Whom? Lessons Learned from September 23, 1122”

September 23, 2021; Wisconsin Historical Society

Professor Russell Hittinger




Spring 2023

PS 460: Latin American Political Thought (Prof. Eduardo Schmidt Passos)

IT 440: Poverty, Ecology, and the Arts: St. Francis of Assisi (Prof. Ernesto Livorni)

Fall 2022

PS 460: Christian Political Thought (Prof. John Boersma)

PS 460: Latin American Political Thought (Prof. Eduardo Schmidt Passos)

ILS 205: Western Culture: Political, Economic, and Social Thought I (Prof. Philip Bunn)

ILS 200: Critical Thinking and Expression


Spring 2022
Political Science 460/831: Aristotle and Aquinas (Prof. John Boersma)

ILS 200: Critical Thinking & Expression: Arguments in Political Rhetoric (Prof. Kirstin Anderson Birkhaug)

ILS 206—Western Culture: Political, Economic, and Social Thought II (Prof. Richard Avramenko)

PS 343—Defending Democracy: The Theory and Practice of U.S. National Security in a Complex World (Prof. Scott Mobley)

PS 363, Literature and Politics (Prof. Philip Bunn)

PS 460—Christian Political Thought (Prof. Eduardo Schmidt Passos)

PS 460/ILS371/PS839: Virtue Theory (Prof. Richard Avramenko)


Fall 2021
Political Science 400: Christian Social and Political Thought (Prof. John Boersma)

Integrated Liberal Studies 205: History of Western Political, Social, and Economic Thought (Prof. Richard Avramenko)

PS 400: Latin American Political Thought (Prof. Eduardo Passos)

PS 338: The Civil-Military Paradox in U.S. Politics and Society (Prof. Scott Mobley)

PS363: Literature and Politics (Prof. Philip Bunn)

PS 460: Conservative Political Thought (Prof. Philip Bunn)

PS 470: The First Amendment (Prof. John Boersma)

PS 839: Methods of Political Theory (Prof. Richard Avramenko)

ILS 372—Latin American Political Thought (Prof. Eduardo Schmidt Passos)


Interested in supporting the Catholic Social & Political Thought Initiative? See how you can help the Center.