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Leadership for America

2017 LEADERSHIP FOR AMERICA Application     April 23 application deadline


Leadership For America

“The way for a young man to rise is to improve himself in every way he can…”Abraham Lincoln

Thomas More, Abraham Lincoln, Aristotle, Socrates, Plato, King Henry V, and Julius Caesar all made a difference in their world. Leadership for America is looking for high school students who want to make a difference in ours. To understand more clearly the complexities and challenges of great leadership, we will investigate the life, times, and writings of those who made a positive contribution and achieved historical prominence.

The underlying principles of leadership based on the natural law, moral convictions, freedom of conscience, and democratic ideology will be studied in light of Catholic values and revealed Truths.

“You are ambitious for knowledge, for leadership, for great ventures. Good. Very good. But let it be for Christ, for Love…”Saint Josemaria Escriva, The Way #24

Leadership for America is an annual college-level seminar series for qualified high school boys from the Western United States. Each year, the Seminar focuses on particular leaders and concepts. Because of their inherent value, some of them will be repeated in subsequent years. The Seminar is also designed with the purpose of strengthening the Catholic faith of the participants through formative talks, daily Mass, and the rosary. The formation given is in keeping with the spirit of the Prelature of Opus Dei – finding God in everyday life.

The Leadership for America Seminar Series is sponsored by the Ahead Leadership Seminars of the Tilden Study Center (Los Angeles, California) in cooperation with other centers of Opus Dei in California.

“Associate yourself with people of good quality, for it is better to be alone than in bad company…”Booker T. Washington


Monday, June 19 – Saturday, June 24

On Human Dignity and Identity

Scientists, philosophers, and theologians have tackled the mystery of human behavior by attempting to answer the question of “nature vs. nurture”. Are our ways of thinking, feeling, and acting inherently fixed characteristics, or can and should they be modified by family, culture, and politics? This year’s Leadership for America Seminar will consider whether each person can create himself as he sees fit, or if each person has an unchangeable human nature that has to be respected.

Early modernists such as Hobbes and Rousseau argued for the changeableness of human nature; Marx and Nietzsche took this to the extremes. However, others have recognized common moral elements in persons across all cultures and religions. Are there any clear answers?

Reason says “yes”:

  • All human beings share a common nature, which is the basis of universal human rights and a common moral code.
  • Every human being has inherent dignity, and an identity that includes aspects independent of his or her choice: family lineage, sex, ethnic heritage, etc.
  • At the same time, human beings are free to mold themselves and their lives as they see fit within the bounds of the laws of human nature.
  • Human law protects the rights and dignity of each person. However, in order for human law to protect people, lawgivers must have a correct understanding of the human person.

Can these answers be convincing to people even without religion? You will be surprised to find out, and you will have a better understanding of current moral issues such as:

  • Physician assisted suicide and abortion
  • Homosexual Boy Scout troop leaders
  • Transgender bathrooms and designer babies
  • What politicians can and cannot legislate



Matthew J. Peterson 

Professor of Media Politics and Culture at John Paul the Great Catholic University, San Diego.

Kevin Walker 

Assistant Professor of History & Political Science at Vanguard University, Costa Mesa.



Motivated and academically successful high school boys entering their sophomore, junior, or senior year as well as those who are entering their freshman year of college.


$425 Payable to: TILDEN STUDY CENTER.  Payments can also be made by credit card installments by using this link: http://installmentpaymentplan.tildenstudycenter.us/.


Admission Procedure 

Application DEADLINE is April 23

Applicants will be admitted by a selection committee from completed applications. An interview may be required at a sponsoring center. For more information, call Matt at the Tilden Study Center in Los Angeles: (310) 208-0941.  You can download  the application HERE or from the link at the top of this page.

Seminar Dates and Schedule

This year’s Leadership for America Seminar will begin at 5 PM in the afternoon of Monday, June 19 and end on Saturday morning, June 24 at 10 AM.  Trumbull Manor is located at 50 Rica Vista in Novato, California. The daily schedule will include the following:

  • Mornings: Prayer, Holy Mass, seminar classes, free time and study time.
  • Afternoons: Holy Rosary, sports/swimming, classes. Evenings: Talent Show, free time, Debate Night, reading time.
  • Special Events: Guest speakers, Angel Island hike, movie.

Previous Seminars and Faculty

2001Thomas More: A Case Study in Leadership. Included a study of Shakespeare’s Henry V. — Faculty: Dr. Gerard B. Wegemer – University of Dallas/Director of the Center for Thomas More Studies and author of Thomas More: A Portrait of Courage. —Dr. Stephen Smith – Hillsdale College (Michigan)   2002The American Founding: Leadership for a Modern Democracy. Included a study of Thomas More, Socrates, Abraham Lincoln, Julius Caesar.—Faculty: Dr. Gerard B. Wegemer – University of Dallas.  —Mr. Travis Curtwright – Ph.D. Candidate, University of Dallas   2003Democracy in America: Political Philosophy and Statesmanship Focusing on the Writings of Alexis de Tocqueville.  —Faculty: Dr. Dwight Duncan – Southern New England School of Law. — Dr. Phillip Muñoz – North Carolina State University   2004Science and Faith: The Harmony of Nature and Spirit. —Faculty: Dr. Richard Ferrier – Thomas Aquinas College. — Dr. Michael Kelleher – University of Ibadan (Nigeria).   2005Politics and Religion in America: The Philosophical Roots of Freedom. —Faculty: Dr. Richard Ferrier – Thomas Aquinas College. — Dr. Jeffrey Langan – University of Notre Dame.   2006The Tyranny of Relativism and the Freedom of Reality. —Faculty: Dr. Sean Kelsey – UCLA. — Dr. David Thunder – University of Notre Dame.   2007Natural Law : Common Truths Written in Your Heart. —Faculty: Dr. Jeffrey Langan – University of Notre Dame. — Mr. Jason Joseph, M.A. – Cistercian Preparatory School, Dallas Texas.   2008God and Caesar : Religion in the Public Square.  —Faculty: Dwight Duncan, J.D., Southern New England School of Law. —Dr. Richard Ferrier, Thomas Aquinas College.   2009Liberty and Unity: Philosophy from Lincoln’s Speeches. —Faculty: Dr. Phillip Muñoz (Tufts / Princeton / Notre Dame) —Peter Campbell, Ph.D. candidate, Notre Dame.   2010The Philosophical Equation: Human Dignity + Moral Absolutes = Human Rights –  Faculty: Dr. Jeff Langan (Holy Cross College at Notre Dame) — Brendan Palla (Fordham University).   2011The Philosophy of Law. —Faculty: Ashton Ellis, School of Public Policy, Pepperdine University.  Dr. Jeffrey Lehman, Thomas Aquinas College.   2012The Road to Virtue: From Socrates to the 21st Century. —Faculty: Thomas Cavanaugh, Department of Philosophy; University of San Francisco.  Steven Smith, Professor of Sacred Scripture; Mount St. Mary’s University, Maryland.   2013 –   Religious Freedom and Expression -Faculty:  Dr. Jeffrey Lehman; Thomas Aquinas College / Hillsdale College. + Dr. Matthew Peterson; Claremont Graduate University.   2014What about the Poor?  A Challenge for All Times – Faculty: Professor Ashton Ellis; Pepperdine University; Claremont Graduate University.  Professor Kevin Walker; Vanguard University 2015Marriage, Family, and the Natural Law – Faculty: Matthew J. Peterson, Claremont Graduate University, Ph.D. Political Science.  Ashton Ellis, Claremont Graduate University, Pepperdine University  2016- Who is God and Who is Man: Hear the Strong Voices of Philosophers, Scientists, and Artists – Faculty: Michael J. Kelleher; University of California Berkeley Extension.  Tim Mc Donnell – Seminar Instructor – Film Studies

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