Great Books Minor to be Offered Next Semester

By Alexa Low

Dr. Neil Wright along with many social science and humanity faculty have collaborated to give students the opportunity to learn through a new  program that relies on readings and discussion surrounding “great books”.

Starting next semester, students will be able to take advantage of the new Great Books minor.

The Great Books Program is based on a different model of education as a committee takes the most influential texts and students examine the texts within a Socratic style of discussion.

A Socratic style of discussion is a form of cooperative argumentative dialogue between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking.

These texts stem from topics in Political Science, English, Theology, Philosophy and many other courses in Quincy’s Bonaventure program.

“They’re great in the sense that not only have they been influential but they speak to questions that any human being at some point is going to have to reckon with,” Wright said.

The Great Books Committee has been formed by faculty to ensure students are taking classes that involve the reading of books by influential people.

The classes within the Great Books Program are a lot more intensive due to the small class size that can sit around a table and discuss the text. Due to the indepth reading and discussion of the texts, most classes will only have around eight to ten students. 

“I want to challenge students to face up against some of the greatest geniuses that our species have ever produced and try to have a conversation with them,” Wright explained.

Students who take part in the minor will be put into an introductory class together called Introduction to Liberal Education in the Great Books.

Within this class students will read and work through Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden” with Dr. Wright and Dr. Michael Keller.

The great books serve as a model for thinking and writing. Wright even argues that sitting around and reading some of the greatest minds will make students better readers and writers.

Wright feels the Great Books Program is an ideal model for a liberal arts education. It allows students to talk with people who came at the same questions we ask ourselves today but from completely different thought processes due to a different time period.

The idea of the great books minor is to go through some of the most important questions at the core of the education so students can investigate what is true and false in their assumptions. The class is completely guided by student participation, making the class much more engaging than other classes.

Wright says he program is good preparation for grad school and even law school as students can practice engaging in a seminar type classroom.

“As I’ve spent more time with the great books, I see myself as more confident in being able to express my ideas and being able to to understand the different alternatives to any answer somebody might give to important questions,” Wright said.

The vision for the future of the program is to elevate campus culture with more intellectual opportunities. The program will be bringing in guest speakers, specifically targeting leading experts in the their fields. These speakers will most likely be focusing on some foundational question of the human condition.

These events will be called the Great Conversations Speaker Series and they will be interactive with the students as they will learn of all the research the speaker has done along with a question and answer period toward the end.

“We don’t get the opportunity to talk with people of this caliber everyday,” Wright said.

The first event was held on October 18th, and the Great Book Program would at least like to have speakers annually. Events are free and open to the public.

All students are welcome but they are specifically looking for students who genuinely love reading and would be willing to engage and find value in the challenge of reading these works.


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