What is the Scala Foundation?

Mission Statement

Scala Foundation is an academic initiative located in Princeton, New Jersey, that aims to strengthen classical liberal arts education and promote authentic human wellbeing. Although core questions about human existence were part of a classical education, today many students struggle to connect their classroom experiences to ultimate concerns such as questions of moral truth, the common good, and virtue. Gaining wisdom, deepening faith, developing virtues, and building friendships have been separated from acquiring knowledge. Without a passion for truth and an intimate community of peers, intellectual pursuits may not lead to flourishing lives and thriving communities.

In Scala’s activities, faculty model how a challenging learning environment can take place in an atmosphere of hospitality and friendship. Faculty also help students explore the philosophical assumptions behind what they are learning. Scala’s activities promote virtues such as thoroughness, intellectual courage, and creative thinking.

Why the name Scala?

Scala is the Latin word for ladder. The two sides of a ladder symbolize the need for balance between body and soul. The steps of the ladder represent that we ascend to excellence while also descending in humility. A ladder also symbolizes that being well-rooted in community life holds us steady as we climb to contemplate eternal truths.

Student Testimonies from Participating in Scala Foundation’s Activities

Having a full view of human personhood, encountering people in our programs of study and personal vocation as people according to that definition as we understand it through the Christian tradition and through many of these texts, is essential to and allows us to overcome such challenges in the small, meaningful ways that amount to constructive change.” – He Y., Yale Divinity School

“The Scala seminar is a beautiful opportunity to enter into an authentic intellectual and spiritual community, based in friendship, curiosity, openness and a zest for life. It provides an opportunity to explore numerous questions of contemporary relevance and perennial concern in an environment of freedom and charity.” – Amy W. 

“The image of the ladder in Scala’s logo captures its vision: we have to climb the ladder to contemplate the good life, but we also have put our feet on the ground and actually live it. We often talk about how to integrate faith and learning, contemplation and action, but the shared activities at Scala allow us to bond as a group and form deep friendships. With Professor Mooney’s guidance, we actually get us to start living the good life.” – Elly B., Princeton University

“Students with diverse backgrounds illuminate important angles to any given question. Guest speakers share intriguing insights, wrangle with difficult questions, and foster intellectually and spiritually constructive conversations. Being situated in a home encourages the pursuit of these questions in greater depth with students and speakers alike…In all of this, Scala provides a place to re-learn how to nurture Christian community.” – Chikara S., Princeton Theological Seminary

“This program has exceeded my expectation and has given me direction as a potential educator for the first time while providing opportunities for deep spiritual reflection.” – John A., Columbia Law School

“I also feel empowered as an individual, having met a group of graduate students endeavoring to live a flourishing academic and personal life who understand that the two cannot be divorced. Meeting them, and knowing that the conversations have only just begun, has shifted my perspective considerably.” – Renae W., Baylor University