The Phoenix Institute 2017 Trumau-Vienna Summer Seminar for the Study of Western Institutions July 7th - July 29th

This year, The Phoenix Institute Summer Seminars for the Study of Western Institutions will include three basic activities:

  • Two mandatory courses to be attended by all students;
  • A program of academic and cultural activities designed to mark the 30th Anniversary of the first Phoenix summer course; and
  • The Gerhard Niemeyer Graduation Seminar, to be attended by all third year students.


The Opening Seminar offers an introduction to the summer course as a whole. The Phoenix Institute Mission Statement will be read, explained and discussed and additional reading will be handed out and read and discussed in small groups to gain a deeper understanding of the aims of the Phoenix Institute. The introductory seminar will take place on Saturday, July 10th. Participation in the Opening Seminar is compulsory for all students enrolled in the program.


Dr. Bernhard Dolna
Lecturer of Jewish Studies at the University of Vienna, Austria
Dean of Studies and Professor of Philosophy at the International Theological Institute, Austria

In his widely acclaimed novel Il Promesi Sposi (The Betrothed) Alessandro Manzoni (1785-1873) reflects on a reality which is familiar to all: bad things happen to good people. In light of this reality, the question that moves him is: how can man maintain the habit of faith, hope and charity amidst historical confusion and turmoil without becoming bitter or cynical. In other words: how is one to preserve the anima candida of man in an unjust world? Manzoni's answer to this question is unpacked within the context of a historical love story which takes place in Lombardy, in the period between 1628 and 1631. The novel discusses a marriage that is prevented by many forces, including a racketeering nobleman, the social and political conditions of the time, and by scourges of war, famine and plague. Impacted in his writing by the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, "Il Promesi Sposi" represents Manzoni's profound search for truth, lasting values and virtues amid fundamental insecurities and changes in society, culture and religion. The novel is a great document of the Christian Western culture and civilization, which has the quality to educate man and to form his heart. It is precisely this which makes "Il Promesi Sposi" so relevant to our troubled generation. The study of this novel -considered by authors such as Goethe, Edgar Allan Poe, and Sir Walter Scott as the most important novel of their time- will deepen our awareness of truth and its beauty. During this three week course, we will work through the whole book in groups, lectures, writing essays, etc. But above all, we will come together to seek for the deeper truths found in this complex novel.

Dr. Bernhard Dolna. Philosophy, theology, and German literature at the University of Vienna and at the University of Freiburg. Doctorate in Theology. Assistant Professor of Ecumenical Studies and Jewish Studies and Dean of the International Theological Institute, Austria. His areas of specialization include Judaic Studies, Jewish/Christian Relations, and theological and philosophical reflections on world literature. Dr. Dolna publishes extensively internationally.

Dr. Diego I. Rosales
Coordinator of the Philosophy Division
Centro de Investigación Social Avanzada

"Who am I?" is the big question that everyone faces sooner or later. Such question isn’t meant to be answered by the simple pronunciation of the name we were given at birth. This is a question that rises in all its depth and importance when experiences of love, freedom, suffering, beauty and evil, become evident and undeniable. This was the question that Augustine of Hippo posed for the first time in a philosophical key, developing the very first philosophy of the person. In contrast, it is significant that Ancient Greeks did not conceived themselves as ‘persons’ but only as ‘human beings’. They understood each other as a singular case of a general nature or essence, as just one concrete instance of the human species. Hence, we must ask why the Christian experience allowed humanity to conceive human beings as persons. To answer this question, Augustine’s testimony is a vital source within the Western Tradition. With him, the notion of “person” emerged as a concrete reality, irreducible to a case of a species or to a universal essence, characterized by inwardness and intimacy. This course will follow Augustine's itinerary as a means to understand how the notion of “person” became a philosophical one, leading towards the fundamental consequences that such notion had in Modernity. Reading materials will include Augustine’s Confessions and selected short texts from The Free Choice of the Will and The City of God.

Dr. Diego Rosales. Ph.D. Philosophy, Comillas Pontifical University. M.A., Philosophy, National Autonomous University of Mexico. B.A., Philosophy, Panamerican University. Coordinator of the Philosophy Division of the Center for Advanced Social Research (CISAV). Editor of the Open Insight journal.


If you are a Phoenix Institute third year student and are looking forward to graduating this summer during the Trumau-Vienna Summer Seminar, please contact Luzma González for further information on the corresponding procedure.


Back in 1987, a group of students and teachers organized a summer program in the University of Texas at Tyler to explore the question "what is it to be human?"

They did so out of their common need for a multinational and multidisciplinary environment where professors and students could get together to explore the nature, main features and historic development of the Western tradition.

At the end of that summer, the Phoenix Institute was born.

Thirty years later, such initial question -along with the need for a community of friends to discuss it with- remains an urgent one.

We will celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the first Phoenix summer program with a series of cultural and academic activities. The details of these activities will be announced in the weeks to come.


The Seminar will be held in Trumau, Austria, at the new 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 1,870 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 the Meal Plan (daily breakfast and lunch Monday-Friday).

The full cost of the program’s tuition fee must be covered by June 22nd, preferably earlier. Admission to the campus will only be possible after full prior payment of the tuition fee. Cash payments will not be accepted.

A 300 Euro nonrefundable initial payment will be needed for registration.

Enrollment to both Summer Programs is limited. If interested in attending, you should apply by May 8, 2017, preferably earlier. Applications will be considered as they arrive.**

**Applications received after May 8 will still be processed by the Phoenix Institute, in the understanding that they will only be reviewed and considered after the first admission list is exhausted.


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 Institute prior written proof of their medical insurance coverage, will not be admitted.


Apply for the 2017 Summer Programs.