de Nicola Center presents 23rd annual fall conference, ‘Dust of the Earth: On Persons’

Author: Kenneth Hallenius

Fall Conference 2023 Cover Image

More than 1,100 scholars, students and guests from around the world registered to attend the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture’s fall conference, “Dust of the Earth: On Persons,” at the University of Notre Dame. The 23rd annual fall conference begins today (Nov. 2) and concludes on Saturday (Nov. 4), featuring nearly 150 presentations across three days of conversation on questions relating to the concept of persons.

The 2023 conference is being hosted in partnership with Stanford University’s Boundaries of Humanity project, which seeks to advance dialogue on “human place and purpose in the cosmos.” The conference and project are supported in part by a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation. The full conference schedule is available at

Featured speakers at this year’s conference include Craig Calhoun, the University Professor of Social Sciences at Arizona State University, who will open the conference with a keynote address titled “Persons: Created, Artificial, and Natural,” at 8 p.m. Thursday in the Morris Inn Ballroom.

Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, director of Jewish studies, the Irving and Miriam Lowe Professor of Modern Judaism and professor of history at Arizona State University, will speak Friday evening, reflecting on personhood in the thought of Jewish philosophers Martin Buber, Hans Jonas, Emmanuel Levinas and Rabbi Jonathan Sacks in a talk titled “Personhood, Relationality, and Responsibility: Jewish Philosophers on Contemporary Technology.” John O’Callaghan, associate professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, will close the conference by reflecting on the question, “Are There Failed Persons? Are You One of Them?”

Other featured speakers include Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, professor emerita of English and bioethics at Emory University; Mary Ann Glendon, the Learned Hand Professor of Law, emerita, at Harvard University; and Craig Finn, lead singer of the indie band The Hold Steady, in conversation with James McFetridge Wilson, lead singer of the band Sons of Bill.

The Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening keynotes will be livestreamed at Many other sessions will be recorded and posted to the de Nicola Center’s YouTube channel at after the conference concludes.

Walk-up registration is available at the check-in desk in the McKenna Hall Conference Center from noon to 5 p.m. Thursday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday.

Since 2000, the de Nicola Center’s annual fall conference has brought together the world’s leading Catholic thinkers, as well as those from other traditions, in fruitful discourse and exchange on the most pressing and vexed questions of ethics, culture and public policy today. The fall conference has since become one of the most important academic fora for wide-ranging conversations that engage the Catholic moral and intellectual tradition from a variety of disciplinary points of departure, including theology, philosophy, political theory, law, history, economics and the social sciences, as well as the natural sciences, literature and the arts. Recent past speakers include Nobel laureate James Heckman, Alasdair MacIntyre, John Finnis, Mary Ann Glendon, Rémi Brague, Charles Taylor and Michael Sandel.

More information is available on the de Nicola Center’s website,

Originally published by Kenneth Hallenius at on Nov. 2.