Space, Time and Eternity:

An Interdisciplinary Inquiry

June 17th-21st 2019

University of Pennsylvania

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This week-long graduate student Summer Seminar will be structured around the question of Space, Time and Eternity from the perspectives of physics, philosophy and theology. Readings will include extracts from St. Augustine, Stephen Hawking, Plato, Kip Thorne, St. Thomas Aquinas, Albert Einstein and others. The Seminar will welcome a small cohort of graduate students to Philadelphia for an intensive course led by eminent scholars across the relevant disciplines. Some of the questions explored include: 

  • What are the ethical, political, and metaphysical implications of the findings of modern physics with respect to space and time?

  • What of historic theological understandings of space, time, and eternity—grounded as they were in Aristotelian and Neoplatonic natural philosophy—can remain after modern discoveries?

  • How can modern physics inform our understanding of space and time in philosophy and theology?    



Each summer, the Magi Project Summer Seminar Lecture Series are open to the public. The following is the schedule for this year’s lectures:

Monday, June 17th

10:30 - 11:45 AM: Dr. Chris Clemens, Physics, University of North Carolina, "Conceptions of Infinity in Medieval Scholasticism"

3:30 - 4:45 PM: Dr. Willemien Otten, Theology, University of Chicago, "Augustine on Time and the Problem of Confessions as Autobiography"

Tuesday, June 18th

10:30 - 11:45 AM: Dr. Willemien Otten, Theology, University of Chicago, "Creation, Nature, and the Development of Natural Science from Augustine to Thomas Aquinas"

3:30 - 4:45 PM: Dr. Chris Clemens, Physics, University of North Carolina, "The Medieval Multiverse"

Wednesday, June 19th

10:30 - 11:45 AM: Dr. Michael Vogeley, Physics, Drexel University, "Space-Time in Relativity and Causality in Quantum Mechanics"

3:30 - 4:45 PM: Dr. Alexander Pruss, Philosophy, Baylor University, "Space-Time and Infinity"

Thursday, June 20th

10:30 - 11:45 AM: Dr. Michael Vogeley, Physics, Drexel University, "Cosmic Time: The Past and Future of the Universe"

3:30 - 4:45 PM: Dr. Alexander Pruss, Philosophy, Baylor University, "Catholic Theology and Four-Dimensionalism"

Friday, June 21st

10:30 - 11:45 AM: Dr. Nicholas Teh, Philosophy, University of Notre Dame, “Space-Time as a (mere) Model: The Anscombe-Cartwright Understanding of Physics”

To register, please select the lectures you would like to attend by filling out the form below:


Residential Graduate student scholarships

A limited number of 25 funded places are available to suitably qualified graduate students.   The funding will cover course fees, course materials, accommodation and food.  Students will be responsible for their own travel expenses.  Students who are successful in the application process will pay a small contribution of $50 towards course costs. Preference will be given to graduate students in the sciences, philosophy and theology.  For more information please email

application deadlines

Rolling admissions until all fellowship spots are filled.

Photos from the 2018 Magi Summer Seminar



Dr. Chris Clemens

Dr. Chris Clemens is a stellar astrophysicist with a B.S. in astrophysics from the University of Oklahoma and a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Texas at Austin. After completing a NASA Hubble Postdoctoral Fellowship at Iowa State University and a Sherman Fairchild Prize Postdoctoral Fellowship at Caltech, Dr. Clemens moved to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1998.

He is currently Senior Associate Dean for Natural Sciences at UNC. He has authored or co-authored more than 100 research papers, holds four patents and is principal investigator of two major National Science Foundation grants. He is also a faculty member of the Program in Medieval and Early Modern Studies, for which he designed and taught the course “Medieval Foundations of Modern Cosmology.”

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Dr. Nicholas Teh

Dr. Teh is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame.

His primary research area is the philosophy of physics, especially questions concerning the philosophical and mathematical foundations of gauge symmetry, spacetime theories, and quantum field theory. He is also interested in the philosophy of modeling (at various scales) as well as approaches to scientific representation that are inspired by the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition.

His broader interests include the philosophy of art (with an emphasis on the quattrocento and the cinquecento) and the foundations of economics and finance.

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Dr. willemien otten

MA, PhD (University of Amsterdam)

Willemien Otten studies the history of Christianity and Christian thought with a focus on the medieval and the early Christian intellectual tradition, especially in the West, and an emphasis on the continuity of Platonic themes. She has worked on the Carolingian thinker Johannes Scottus Eriugena and on twelfth-century humanistic thinkers including Peter Abelard. Her preferred approach is to analyze (early) medieval thought and theology as an amalgam of biblical, classical, and patristic influences which, woven together, constitute their own intellectual matrix. Within this matrix the place and role of nature and humanity interest her most.

Seeing theological questions embedded in broader historical and interdisciplinary study, even as she pursues her interest in medieval history and culture, Otten currently deals with ideas of nature and self, linking, among others, Eriugena and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

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Dr. Alexander Pruss

Dr. Alexander Pruss graduated from the University of Ontario in 1991 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics and Physics. After earning a Ph.D. in Mathematics at the University of British Columbia in 1996 and publishing several papers in Proceedings of the American Mathematical Society and other mathematical journals, he began graduate work in philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh. He completed his dissertation, Possible Worlds: What They Are and What They Are Good For, under Nicholas Rescher in 2001.

Dr. Pruss began teaching philosophy at Georgetown University in 2001, earning tenure in 2006. In 2007, he moved to Waco, Texas to teach philosophy at Baylor University. He is now the Director of Graduate Studies for the Baylor Philosophy Department. He has taught various courses, including graduate seminars on the philosophy of time, metaphysics, the cosmological and ontological arguments for the existence of God, modality, free will, and the history of philosophy.

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Dr. Michael vogeley

Professor Vogeley earned his undergraduate degree in Astrophysical Sciences from Princeton University in 1987 and a doctorate in Astronomy from Harvard University in 1993, followed by postdoctoral positions at the Johns Hopkins University and the Space Telescope Science Institute (as a Hubble Fellow), and a Research Staff appointment at Princeton University. He joined the Drexel faculty in 1999. Professor Vogeley leads a research group focused on analysis of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, funded by grants from NASA and NSF. Professor Vogeley teaches Electromagnetism, Special Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, and Cosmology. He currently serves as Director of Graduate Studies for the Department of Physics.

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Physics, University of North Carolina

Physics, University of North Carolina

Philosophy, University of Notre Dame

Philosophy, University of Notre Dame

Theology, University of Chicago

Theology, University of Chicago

Philosophy, Baylor University

Philosophy, Baylor University

Physics, Drexel University

Physics, Drexel University

Photos from the 2017 Magi Summer Seminar