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America’s robust civic life has been one of its most defining characteristics. Alexis de Tocqueville, a French aristocrat who studied America in the early 1830s, was astounded by people’s inclination to form clubs and societies of every variety. These kinds of groups formed our civil society and knit our communities together.

Recent surveys of our nation’s civic life indicate that some areas of the country are suffering from a complete breakdown of civil society and community. Our social fabric is fraying and giving way to social alienation. These issues deserves our attention.

During this one-day event, we will explore

  • How the human person is created for community
  • Why civil society is so important to the health of our social fabric
  • Why some communities began to break down
  • How we can begin to restore and reinvigorate our communities

Who Should Attend?

  • Students
  • Academics
  • Faith-Based Leaders
  • Non-profit Leaders
  • You! All are welcome!


Michael Matheson Miller
Acton Institute

Research Fellow, Producer of Poverty, Inc.

Michael Matheson Miller is Research Fellow and Director of Acton Media at the Acton Institute. With some 10 years of international experience, Miller has lived and traveled in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. He lectures internationally on such themes as moral philosophy, economic development, and social theory, and entrepreneurship.

He is a frequent guest on radio and has been published in The Washington TimesThe Detroit News, The L.A. Daily News, and Real Clear Politics. He is the director and host of the PovertyCure DVD Series and has appeared in various video curricula including Doing the Right ThingEffective Stewardship, and the Birth of Freedom.

Much of his current work at the Acton Institute involves leading PovertyCure, promoting entrepreneurial solutions to poverty in the developing world. Before coming to Acton, he spent three years at Ave Maria College of the Americas in Nicaragua where he taught philosophy and political science and was the chair of the philosophy and theology department.

Miller received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame, an M.A. from Nagoya University’s Graduate School of International Development (Japan), an M.A. in philosophy from Franciscan University, and an M.B.A. in International Management from Thunderbird Graduate School of Global Business. He serves on the President’s Advisory Council of Aquinas College in Nashville, the board of the Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy Project, and the board of trustees for Angelico Press.

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John Wilsey, Ph.D.
Acton Institute

Affiliate Scholar

John D. Wilsey, Ph.D. is Affiliate Scholar in Theology and History at the Acton Institute. He is Associate Professor of Church History at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and author of One Nation Under God: An Evangelical Critique of Christian America (Pickwick, 2011) and American Exceptionalism and Civil Religion: Reassessing the History of an Idea (IVP Academic, 2015); he also edited Alexis de Tocqueville’s famous work, which recently appeared under the title Democracy in America: A New Abridgment for Students (Lexham, 2016). Wilsey is 2017-18 William E. Simon Visiting Fellow in Religion and Public Life with the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. He is doing research for a new biography of John Foster Dulles, scheduled to appear in Eerdmans’ Library of Religious Biography series.

Tim P. Carney
Washington Examiner & American Enterprise Institute

Author of Alienated America

Tim Carney is the author of Alienated America. He is also commentary editor of the Washington Examiner, and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He has written for the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. His earlier books are The Big Ripoff (2006) and Obamanomics (2009). He is a protégé of the late Robert Novak, an alumnus of St. John's College, and a native of New York. He is married with six children and lives in the Washington, DC area.

James Whitford
Watered Gardens Gospel Rescue Mission

Executive Director

James Whitford received his doctorate from the University of Kansas Medical Center and practiced physical therapy and wound care before he and his wife founded Watered Gardens Gospel Rescue Mission in Joplin, Missouri in 2000. He also founded and directs the True Charity Initiative, calling communities to effective charity and freedom from welfare through connecting non-profits, educating leaders and advocating for improved public policy. His work has appeared in Heritage Foundation’s Index of Culture and Opportunity, Patrick Henry College’s Newsmaker Series, World, The Blaze, The Christian Post and The Hill.

Event Details

Start Date

End Date


Omni Hotel
530 William Penn Place
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
United States

Length of Event
One Day

8:30am - Registration

9am - Welcome & Breakfast 

9:45am - Session 1: Michael M. Miller - Christian Vision of the Human Person

10:30am - Q&A

11am - Break

11:15am - Session 2: John Wilsey, Ph.D., – The Vital Role of Civil Society 

12pm - Q&A

12:30pm - Lunch 

1:15pm - Session 3: Tim Carney – Alienated America

2pm - Q&A

2:30pm - Break

3:15pm - Session 4: James Whitford – Restoring Community

4pm: Q&A

4:30pm - Conclusion


General $20

Student $10

* Includes breakfast and lunch

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