Founded in 2000 A.D., the Great Books Program consists of four years (grades 9-12) of online classes meeting two hours per week to discuss weekly readings from the Great Books of Western Civilization. Discussions are led by two highly experienced moderators and a maximum of 20 students per class.
The classes are conducted in a Socratic, conversational format. Our method of teaching by conversationally discussing questions and answers in a spirit of mutual inquiry and discovery dates back to Socrates and is at the heart of the Great Books and classical traditions. It leads students to develop and practice the liberal arts of listening, speaking, reading and writing, as well as the habits of reflective, critical thinking. In this environment students begin to develop their thoughts and insights with care and confidence and learn how to express those ideas in the naturally delightful and liberating experience of genuine learning. In this way students gain understanding of their own natures and the nature of the world in which we all live. This makes for a better-examined and thoughtful life, a point on which all the sages who wrote the great books agree. Visitors are welcome to attend the classes to experience them. We have some audio samples of the classes posted below.
Students must be at least 14 years of age (or 9th grade) to enroll in the Great Books Program. However, these are not 9th-12th grade classes – they are for any age. There is no upper age limit. We often have college students and adults in classes, (who typically enroll in the “high school track” simply because they are not seeking college credit and prefer not to do the written work required for the college credit recommendation) though the great majority begin at age 14. The experienced moderators and the quality of the books read and discussed–which Dr. Adler called the “backbone of a liberal education”–invariably elevate the conversation and enlighten the intellects of participants. The specific readings selected are arranged chronologically beginning around Homer’s Illiad from Ancient Greece (1st year), and continue through ancient Rome (2nd year), the Middle Ages (3rd year), and conclude in our time (Modern, or 4th year). This is typical of Great Books programs at colleges and universities.
Enrollment in the Angelicum Academy is not required for admission to the Great Books Program. Nearly every reading in the program can be found online or at the library. Links to online texts are provided in the Student Portal. 9th grade and higher grade students transferring into the Angelicum Academy must enroll in the Great Books Program for at least the number of high school (9th-12th) years they are in the Academy (minimum being one year).