The Phoenix Institute 2019 Trumau-Vienna Summer Seminar for the Study of Western Institutions July 5th - July 27th



The Opening Seminar offers an introduction to the summer course as a whole. Students will meet their professors, classmates, and coordinators; review the calendar of curricular and extra-curricular activities; learn all they need to know about life at Notre Dame; etc. The Seminar will take place on Saturday, July 6. Participation in the Opening Seminar is compulsory for all students.



Participants will pick two out of the following three courses.



Dr. Bernhard Dolna

Dean of Studies and Professor of Philosophy

International Theological Institute, Austria


Why is Mozart so incomparable? Why is it that for the receptive one he has produced a type of music for which beautiful is the only possible epithet? His music is not entertainment, but food for the soul; music full of comfort and counsel that corresponds with the most profound aspirations of the human heart; music that is never a slave to technique or sentiment, but a free and liberating creation that builds its grandeur out of the wisdom, strength, and sovereignty that makes it beautiful. But if this is true, it implies that music -and beauty, for that effect- is the result of much more than mere material stimulus, amusement or technical mastery, but a deeper reality that grows out of its relationship with the wholeness of the human person.

No wonder why in ancient times authors like Plato and Aristotle were so aware of the educational and political impact that music had on society. Contemporary authors reflect on this too, entering the list of thinkers that explore the distinction between music that properly illuminates, forms and fulfills our human nature, and music that obfuscates it. In this class we will explore and experience the beauty of music through Haydn's serene tranquility, Mozart's divine spark, Beethoven's noble loneliness, among others, as a kind of resonance of the harmony of a creation that includes lights and shadows, but in which shadows are not darkness, deficiency is not defeat, and sadness is not despair. We will examine how such music is rooted in the truth that underlies it and how it calls for a certain human ethical behavior that is explained by the relationship among the classical triad between Pulchrum -Verum - Bonum.

Dr. Bernhard Dolna. Assistant Professor of Ecumenical Studies and Jewish Studies and Dean of Studies of the International Theological Institute (ITI). Researcher and Lecturer at the University of Vienna, Dr. Dolna publishes extensively internationally.



Dr. Pablo González Domínguez

Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Costa Rica

Universidad Panamericana, Mexico


This course will explore some of the fundamental ideas, principles, and challenges of establishing and maintaining a global system of human rights law in a pluralistic world. The central aim of the course is to examine critically the foundations of the international human rights law project and how they are important to understanding the practice of human rights both at the international and the domestic level. Analyzing and discussing structural principles such as dignity, solidarity, subsidiarity, sovereignty, equality, and proportionality will be one of the course's main objectives. These principles raise serious substantive, methodological, and institutional issues worthy of being studied theoretically. The course will also cover selected international and domestic courts cases on the right to life, the right to humane treatment, political rights, and socio-economic rights. The cases highlight the tension in international human rights law between related values like dignity and autonomy, personal integrity and security, or political participation and democratic stability. Along with the cases, the course will cover the writings of prominent scholars from different legal traditions and the most influential normative instruments in international human rights law.

Dr. Pablo González Domínguez. J.S.D. in International Human Rights Law, University of Notre Dame. LL.M. in International Legal Studies, Georgetown University. LL.B. Universidad Panamericana (Mexico). Staff Attorney at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Lecturer on human rights at Universidad Panamericana. Recent works include the book "The doctrine of conventionality control. Between uniformity and legal pluralism in the Inter-American Human Rights System" (Intersentia, 2018).



Dr. Randal B. Smith

Scanlan Foundation Professor of Theology

University  of St. Thomas, USA


At the beginning of "Fides et Ratio," his encyclical on "Faith and Reason", Pope John Paul II said: "In both East and West, we may trace a journey which has led humanity down the centuries to meet and engage truth more and more deeply (...) The more human beings know reality and the world, the more they know themselves in their uniqueness (...) A cursory glance at ancient history shows clearly how in different parts of the world, with their different cultures, there arise at the same time the fundamental questions which pervade human life: Who am I? Where have I come from and where am I going? Why is there evil? What is there after this life? These are the questions which we find in the sacred writings of Israel, as also in the Veda and the Avesta; we find them in the writings of Confucius and Lao-Tze, and in the preaching of Tirthankara and Buddha; they appear in the poetry of Homer and in the tragedies of Euripides and Sophocles, as they do in the philosophical writings of Plato and Aristotle. They are questions which have their common source in the quest for meaning which has always compelled the human heart. In fact, the answer given to these questions decides the direction which people seek to give to their lives.

So what if Pope John Paul II is right?  And by this I mean, what if he is already right?  What if the direction we have given to our lives is based on the answers we have given - perhaps even unconsciously - to certain "fundamental questions" of meaning? In this course, we will give ourselves the opportunity to reflect on some of these fundamental questions through the reading of several books by the German philosopher Josef Pieper (1904-1997), one of the most widely read and influential Catholic thinkers of the twentieth century.  Our reflections will be animated by two working assumptions.  The first is that the kind of world you think you live in will in large part determine the direction you seek to give your life.  The second, which is similar, is that what you think about the nature of the human person and about what leads to human happiness and human flourishing will in large part determine the way you live your life. With those assumptions in mind, several questions will be addressed: What kind of world do I think I am living in and how should I view my life in that world?  What is the goal of human life?  And finally, how should I live my life if I am to achieve true happiness and human flourishing in the real world in which we actually live?

Dr. Randall B. Smith. Ph.D. Medieval Studies and Philosophy, University of Notre Dame. M.M.S. Medieval Institute, University of Notre Dame. M.A. Department of Theology, University of Dallas B.A., Chemistry, Cornell College. Scanlan Professor of Theology at the University of St. Thomas, Houston.



The Gerhart Niemeyer Graduation Seminar is the academic activity through which Phoenix senior students (Third Year) complete the Institute's Program in Advanced Social, Economic and Political Studies. During the 2019 Trumau-Vienna program, the Seminar discussion sessions will be held between Thursday, June 27, and Saturday, June 29.

Third Year students are expected to arrive on Campus on Wednesday, July 3, 2019 (three days before the rest of the group).

The Graduation Seminar will cost 45 Euros.



The Seminar will be held in Trumau, Austria, at the campus of the International Theological Institute (ITI). Located 20 minutes south of Vienna and 30 minutes southwest of Vienna Airport by car, Trumau offers ample opportunities to take full advantage of Vienna's rich cultural atmosphere.



The cost of the program is 1,900 Euros, and it includes the full tuition fee, double/triple-occupancy accommodations, use of the ITI facilities, a number of cultural activities in and around Vienna (transportation included), and a three-week Meal Plan (daily breakfast and lunch Monday-Friday).

The full cost of the program's tuition fee must be covered by May 31, 2019, preferably earlier. Admission to the campus will only be possible after full prior payment of the tuition fee.

A 300 Euro non-refundable initial payment will be needed for registration.

Enrollment to both Summer Programs is limited. General registration will open on Monday, November 5, 2018, and will remain open through Monday, April 15. All applications will be processed on a first-come, first serve-basis. Due to high demand, students are encouraged to apply as early as possible.



Applicants from outside the EU need to inform at the Austrian Embassy or consulate in their home country whether a (student or tourist) visa is required for entry into Austria.



Prior to arrival in Austria, all participants must purchase a full medical insurance policy that covers any medical emergencies or needs whilst attending the course.

The Phoenix Institute cannot provide for any medical care or medical costs and insurance coverage.

Participants, who have not sent the Phoenix Institute written proof of their medical insurance coverage by July 3, 2019, will not be admitted to the summer program.


More information and applications: 

or The Phoenix Institute