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Civitas through Caritas: Cultivating Love, Cultivating Citizens


Civitas through Caritas: Cultivating Love, Cultivating Citizens is a summer program hosted by Villanova University's Augustine and Culture Seminar Program, Villanova's signature course for all first-year students, for rising high school seniors in the greater Philadelphia area. The program is committed to recruiting students who are from under-served and under-represented groups, with significant financial need and/or other barriers to higher educationCivitas through Caritas is made possible by a generous grant from the Teagle Foundation as part of their "Education for American Civic Life" initiative.

It includes:

  • a three-week free summer program that provides an opportunity for 16 rising high school seniors from greater Philadelphia area schools to engage in civic conversation through a foundation in the liberal arts.
  • An opportunity to continue those conversations with peers and faculty mentors once a month throughout the academic year.
  • a jumpstart on your college application process, including one-on-one mentoring and guidance for navigating the Common App and for drafting college essays.

Civitas means "civil society; caritas means "love." Civitas through Caritas explores the possibility that a civil society requires a sense of love, justice, and the common good in order for all of its members to truly flourish.

Civitas through Caritas asks rising high school seniors to explore what it means to be a citizen, allowing a rich conversation to occur across perceived cultural differences, and reflection on the Augustinian values of love and community. This program invites young people to read and reflect on important books from across the centuries, introducing them to the timeless questions raised by these enduring works of human culture.

Civitas through Caritas also provides a practical method of access to higher education and encourages students to pursue the liberal arts by supporting them through their senior year of high school and college application process.

  • Help motivated young people develop into reflective and responsible citizens who are committed to the common good, community formation and responsibility towards others.
  • Impact how students engage in the college experience.
  • Provide a clear understanding of how why the liberal arts is important to the human experience.
  • Encourage students not only to attend college, but to consider majoring in the liberal arts. 

Summer Seminar

  • Three week residential academic summer program 
  • Daily academic seminars 
  • Field trips
  • Evening activities

School Year Institute

  • One year commitment
  • Monthly sessions throughout the academic year
  • Jumpstart our college application process
  • One-on-One Mentoring and guidance
  • Common app navigation
  • Assistance with college essays

During the three-week summer session, students will meet in daily seminars to engage in conversation about the readings with two faculty, along with undergraduate co-facilitators. The co-facilitators will also serve as peer mentors and tutors. There will be short writing assignments as part of the preparation for class discussions. 

Throughout the program, we will look to Augustine, a North African and Roman citizen, as a role model. Framed by St. Augustine's definition of civil society, we invite students to consider what love is, what people have said they loved, what they have actually loved, and what they ought to have loved - and, most importantly, to ask the same questions of ourselves.

SYLLABUS: The syllabus for Civitas through Caritas includes books that ACS explores with first-year college students.

  • Works of political philosophy, including Plato, Aristotle and other ancient political philosophers along with writings from the American founding that continue to impact modern citizenship
  • Philosophical and literary works that address the ongoing challenges of justice, equity and inclusion: Martin Luther King, Jr., James Baldwin, Dorothy Day, among others.      


There will be weekly field trips to a variety of cultural and historical sites in the Philadelphia area, including the Constitution Center, Independence Hall, Old St. Augustine's Church, Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church, Philadelphia's Magic Gardens, the African American Museum, and the Museum of the American Revolution. 


Summer Schedule:

Sunday, June 26          Students arrive late afternoon; welcome reception for                                                           students and families

June 27-July 1             Week one – summer session (session ends at 4:00 p.m. on                                             Friday; students return home for weekend); field trip on                                                       Wednesday

Monday, July 4             No Classes

Tuesday, July 5            Students return Tuesday morning by 9:00 am (ice cream social in                                       residence hall Tuesday evening)

July 5 - July 8               Week two – summer session (session ends at 4:00 p.m.                                                    Friday; students return home for weekend); field trip on                                                        Wednesday

Sunday, July 10             Students return Sunday evening (pizza social in                                                                   residence hall)

July 11-July 15              Week three – summer session.  Field trip on Wednesday.                                                 Session ends on Friday at 4:00 p.m. with closing picnic for                                                   families

Saturday, August 13      College Application Workshop Day 10:00am - 4:00 pm                                                  Goal is to have the basic application filled out by the end of the                                          day (except for essays)

Weekend Sessions:     

School year weekend sessions will include 1-2 hours of college application prep (one-on-one time with writing tutors) and one hour of project guidance with faculty advisors for team projects.

Contact Information

800 E. Lancaster Avenue

SAC Room 103

Villanova, Pa 19085

Phone: 610-519-6936

Fax: 610-519-5410

Program Director

Dr. Marylu Hill

Summer Seminar Leaders

Dr. Ian Clausen

Dr. Alan Pichanick