Living Well in Hard Times; Or, Why Liberal Education is Not a Luxury

LECTURES > PREVIOUS

In tough economic times, people naturally cut back on “non-essentials,” the little “luxuries” in life they can do without until better times return. For many people, these cuts include “culture” in general and “liberal education” in particular. After all, “great books” and “deep thoughts” don’t pay the rent or put food on the table. This lecture, however, will explore the contrary thesis: that it is precisely in hard times that liberal education is most essential, and “great books” and “deep thoughts” are most valuable — when “living well” most depends upon “living smart.” Continue reading

Great Ideas I

COURSES > UNDERGRADUATE [→ ONLINE ARCHIVE MATERIAL]

This course is designed both to introduce students to some of the major texts of the Western tradition and to help students develop their critical thinking skills, including the ability to understand, assess and formulate logical arguments. To pursue these goals we will read, discuss and write about works loosely organized around two themes: 1) god(s); 2) power.  The oldest of these texts was composed almost 3000 years ago; the most recent was composed about 300 years ago. Continue reading

Great Ideas II

COURSES > UNDERGRADUATE [→ ONLINE ARCHIVE MATERIAL]

This course is designed both to introduce students to some of the major texts of the Western tradition and to help students develop their critical thinking skills, including the ability to understand, assess and formulate logical arguments .  To pursue these goals we will read, discuss and write about a number of works loosely organized around the themes of morality and the relationship of the individual and society. Continue reading

The Great Books Capital of America: The Role of Chicago in the Great Books Movement

LECTURES > PREVIOUS

Although the partisans of the great books have always emphasized the universal and timeless aspects of the great books, the emergence of “great books” as a widely recognizable concept is an American cultural phenomenon centered on the particular time and place of mid-20th-century Chicago.  Despite roots in New York and beyond as well as branches around the country and now around the world, the great books movement achieved critical mass in Chicago with which it has been and continues to be identified. Continue reading

Read, Think, Listen, Speak: A Guide for New Students

WRITINGS > FINISHED [→ ONLINE ARCHIVE MATERIAL]

Welcome to the Basic Program of Liberal Education for Adults. You and your classmates are about to embark upon a voyage. A voyage that adults in Chicagoland have embarked upon for 50 years. A voyage that, experience shows, may literally change your life. To help you get your “sea legs,” as it were, I offer the following words of advice. Continue reading

The Basic Program of Liberal Education for Adults Archive Highlights

WRITINGS > FINISHED

Produced as part of the preparation for the Basic Program’s 50th Anniversary (1996–1997), four volumes of the highlights of archival material gathered from various sources concerning the origins and development of the Great Books Movement with emphasis on the role of the University of Chicago in general and the Basic Program of Liberal Education for Adults in particular.

  • Volume 1: Internal Documents
  • Volume 2: Public Documents
  • Volume 3: Press
  • Volume 4: 1958-59 Self-Study
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Basic Program of Liberal Education for Adults: YEAR 4

COURSES > LIFELONG | COURES > ONLINE [→ ONLINE ARCHIVE MATERIAL]

Founded in 1946, the University of Chicago’s Basic Program of Liberal Education for Adults is a structured, four-year, non-credit curriculum in which students read and discuss the classics of the Western traditions under the guidance of experienced staff instructors. Readings span ancient Greece and ancient Israel to modern Europe and America and include works of philosophy, drama, fiction, poetry, politics, and history. These works present a variety of perspectives on enduring human questions, such as: What is justice and how can we best achieve it? What does it mean to live a good human life? What is truth, does it exist, and how do we find it? Continue reading

Basic Program of Liberal Education for Adults: YEAR 3

COURSES > LIFELONG | COURSES ONLINE [→ ONLINE ARCHIVE MATERIAL]

Founded in 1946, the University of Chicago’s Basic Program of Liberal Education for Adults is a structured, four-year, non-credit curriculum in which students read and discuss the classics of the Western traditions under the guidance of experienced staff instructors. Readings span ancient Greece and ancient Israel to modern Europe and America and include works of philosophy, drama, fiction, poetry, politics, and history. These works present a variety of perspectives on enduring human questions, such as: What is justice and how can we best achieve it? What does it mean to live a good human life? What is truth, does it exist, and how do we find it? Continue reading

Basic Program of Liberal Education for Adults: YEAR 2

COURSES > LIFELONG | COURSES > ONLINE [→ ONLINE ARCHIVE MATERIAL]

Founded in 1946, the University of Chicago’s Basic Program of Liberal Education for Adults is a structured, four-year, non-credit curriculum in which students read and discuss the classics of the Western traditions under the guidance of experienced staff instructors. Readings span ancient Greece and ancient Israel to modern Europe and America and include works of philosophy, drama, fiction, poetry, politics, and history. These works present a variety of perspectives on enduring human questions, such as: What is justice and how can we best achieve it? What does it mean to live a good human life? What is truth, does it exist, and how do we find it? Continue reading