The John U. Nef Committee on Social Thought was founded in 1941 by the historian John U. Nef, the economist Frank Knight, the anthropologist Robert Redfield, and Robert M. Hutchins, then President of ... About the Committee

About the Committee

Since students in the Committee have unusual scope for independent study, successful work in Social Thought requires mature judgment and individual initiative. Naturally, the Committee wishes... Admission to the Committee

Admission to the Committee

Work with the Committee is not limited as to subject matter. Any serious program of study, based on the Fundamentals Examination, culminating in a scholarly doctoral dissertation, and requiring a framework... Graduate Program

Graduate Program

The John U. Nef Committee on Social Thought

The John U. Nef Committee on Social Thought is an interdisciplinary, Ph.D. granting graduate program. Its guiding principle is that the serious study of many academic topics, and of many philosophical, historical, theological and literary works, is best prepared for by a wide and deep acquaintance with the fundamental issues presupposed in all such studies, that students should learn about these issues by acquainting themselves with a select number of major ancient and modern texts in an inter- disciplinary atmosphere, and should only then begin intense work on a specific dissertation topic. In their first few years of study, students select twelve to fifteen foundational or fundamental books that best inform the context and background of the issues they want to write about, and they read and study these books in discussion groups, tutorials, seminars and independently, and then sit a week long qualifying exam on some selection of their books. Learn more

Latest News and Announcements

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015: Nef Lecture by David Mikics (University of Houston) honoring Saul Bellow’s centenary “Saul Bellow’s People”.

Time and location to be determined.

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Monday, May 18, 2015: Nef Lecture by Michael Fried (Johns Hopkins University)

at 4:30pm. Title forthcoming.

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Thursday, April 30, 2015: Doctoral Lecture by David Hayes “Ambush and Safety in Poetry: A Case of Homer vs. Archilochus”

at 4:30pm in Foster 505.

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Thursday, April 23, 2015: Lecture by Paul Kottman (Dept. of Comparative Literature at New School for Social Research) at the Lit/Phil Workshop “Romantic Love as Human Freedom”

at 4:30pm. Location to be determined.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015: Lecture & Poetry reading by David Michael Hertz (Dept. of Comparative Literature, Indiana University) on “Eugenion Montale and the Great Modern Cycle of Love Poetry

in Foster 505 at 5:00pm

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015: Jeremy Bell is giving his doctoral lecture “Elizabeth Anscombe’s Wittgensteinian Third Way in Philosophy of Mind: a Thomist Critique”

at 4:30pm in Foster 305

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Monday, April 6, 2015: Social Thought Colloquium presents “The Off-Screen: Shakespeare, Brueghel, Tarkovsky” by Eyal Peretz (Dept. of Comparative Literature, Indiana University)

at 4:30pm in Foster 505.

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The John U. Nef Committee on Social Thought Video