Great Books Colloquium
Foundations for a Lifetime
The Great Books Colloquium is an integrated sequence of four courses, I to IV, in which students read and discuss some of the most influential and thought-provoking books ever written. From the ancient Greeks to the twentieth century, these works stimulate thought and conversation on ideas that require our best critical analysis and insights about big questions and timeless issues. In addition to reading, students engage in class discussion and writing interpretative essays. Over the sequence, they will grow as thinkers, writers, and communicators: a solid educational foundation not simply for college, but also strong skills towards future employment and, indeed, for life.
Assigned texts in this sequence encompass literature, philosophy, theology, politics, history, and psychology. Among the issues addressed are the complexities of justice, the grounds of moral choice, the experiences of human and divine love, and the ideals and challenges of political leadership. Authors range from Homer to Toni Morrison, Plato to Dostoevsky, Dante to Austen to Virginia Woolf, among many others. The courses emphasize an open forum for sharing ideas, intellectual growth, and rigorous academic inquiry. Our goal is not for students to think like the authors we read, but for students to build on the readings to think for themselves.
Enrolling in the Colloquium
There is limited enrollment for the Great Books Colloquium. The only prerequisite for participation is eligibility for English 101. Students interested in enrolling in the colloquium should also be willing to commit to the significant time and effort required to engage in the courses. Specifically, students are asked to complete a substantial amount of both reading and writing. The payoff for doing this work is significant intellectual, spiritual, and personal growth.
Although there is no requirement to remain in the colloquium for all four courses, doing so will give students the opportunity to read the greatest works ever written, spanning nearly three millennia, thus affording the maximum benefit the colloquium is intended to produce. Students usually enter the colloquium in the fall of their first year, when they enroll in the first Great Books course to fulfill the First-Year seminar requirement. Generally, students can finish by the spring semester of their sophomore year but may complete the sequence later, particularly if they participate in an international program.
Students who complete the Great Books Colloquium sequence will fulfill the following GE requirements:
- First-Year Seminar
- Two courses from Group A
- ENG 101
- Upper-division literature
- One course in the Humanities sequence (HUM 111, HUM 212, or HUM 313)
- Two courses from Group B:
- COM 180
- POSC 104
- REL 301
- SOC 200
Students completing Great Books I receive credit for First-Year Seminar, even if they choose not to complete the sequence. Students who do not complete the sequence but complete a course or courses beyond Great Books I will receive unit credit toward graduation, but no General Education credit besides the First-Year Seminar.
Great Books Minor
For students interested to go beyond the four-course sequence and earn a minor in Great Books, they would need to take (a) Asian Great Books, (b) Great Books V, and (c) an elective course from an approved list. For additional information, download the Great Books minor brochure.