Virtue and the Good Life

Collective Reflection on a Well-Lived Life


Virtue and the Good Life is a yearlong, interdisciplinary program that provides a selective group of students the space to collectively pause and reflect about a well-lived life and the traits that inform it. Throughout the program, students will engage faculty, alumni, and each other in relaxed educational settings that bring different disciplinary perspectives to bear on questions of the good life, without the pressure of paper deadlines or graded work.

The theme for 2018-2019 is Ethics and the Emotions. By participation in seminars, lectures, and small group discussions, members of the cohort will think through issues that include: challenges to finding balance amidst life’s complexities; the connection of caring and emotional vulnerability; good attachments; and how to harmonize emotions and ethical sensibilities.


VGL’s activities each quarter will be organized around a public keynote lecture delivered by a faculty member or prominent alumnus. Each keynote lecture will address the year’s theme from a different disciplinary perspective. Participants will also attend pre- and post-keynote seminars. These discussion-based seminars will introduce, contextualize, or continue reflection on the central issues that arise in the keynote. Background reading will be distributed for the seminars and keynotes to orient discussions, but there will be no written work.

At each event there will be food and time for casual conversation with faculty, alumni, and fellow students.

Program activities will be scheduled on weekday afternoons and early evenings.

The program theme will also overlap with the annual Chicago Moral Philosophy Seminar led by Prof. Anselm Mueller.

Program Leaders:

-Tom Gunning, Edwin A. and Betty L. Bergman Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Art History, Department of Cinema and Media Studies
-Agnes Callard, Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy
-David Brooks, NYT columnist
-Candace Vogler, David B. and Clara E. Stern Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy
-Anselm Mueller, Visiting Professor, Department of Philosophy
-Zack Loveless, HPI, Director of Programming.

How to apply:

Criteria: All University of Chicago students are eligible to apply.

Application: To apply, submit a resume (including program, year, email, and GPA), and a 450-600-word essay answering the following question: “How do you see your participation in the VGL program as contributing to your personal development?”  Please submit each in .pdf or .doc format to zloveless@hydeparkinstitute.org.

Deadline: Oct 16th, 2018

Fall Events Schedule

  • Pre-Seminar:
    • Leaders: Candace Vogler, Zack Loveless
    • Date: October 25th, 2018, 5pm-7pm
    • Location: TBD
  • Film Screening:
    • Film: Lucky Star, directed by Frank Borzage
    • Date: November 1st, 2018 6pm-9pm
    • Location: Film Studies Center, Cobb 307
    • RSVP here.
  • Focal Lecture
    • Speaker: Tom Gunning
    • Title: “Moving Pictures: Intimacy and Tears in the Cinema”
    • Date: November 2, 2018, 5pm-7pm
    • Location: Kent Chemical Laboratory
    • RSVP here.
  • Post-Seminar
    • Leaders: Candace Vogler, Zack Loveless
    • Date: November 9th, 2018, 4:30pm-6:30pm
    • Location: Cobb 302

Winter Events Schedule

  • Pre-Seminar:
    • Leaders: Candace Vogler, Zack Loveless
    • Date: January 30th, 2019, 6pm-8pm
    • Location: Cobb 115
  • Focal Lecture
    • Speaker: Agnes Callard
    • Title: “Value and Emotion”
    • Date: February 6th, 2019, 6pm-8pm
    • Location: Rosenwald 405
  • Post-Seminar
    • Leaders: Candace Vogler, Zack Loveless
    • Date: February 13th, 2019, 6pm-8pm
    • Location: Cobb 115

Spring Events Schedule

  • Pre-Seminar:
    • Leaders: Candace Vogler, Zack Loveless
    • Date: April 24th, 2019, 6pm-8pm
    • Location: Cobb 112
  • Focal Lecture:
    • Speaker: David Brooks
    • Title: “The Four Big Decisions in Life”
    • Date: May 4th, 2019, 3:30pm-5pm
    • Location: Logan Center, Room 201
  • Post-Seminar:
    • Leaders: Candace Vogler, Zack Loveless
    • Date: May 15th, 2019, 6pm-8pm
    • Location: Cobb 112