A professor from a Great Books program said that when she encounters former students in airports or parking lots, the question they always ask is, “How do I get back there? How do I return to thinking about the important things and asking meaningful questions?”
How do we keep our lives trained on the True, the Good, and the Beautiful once we leave school? And what about those of us who never had the chance to explore what really matters while we were in school?
One of the silver linings of the pandemic for us at the Aquinas Institute was that we were inspired to launch our online program of Great Books discussion courses. Online classes are something we would never have imagined in line with our mission had not the extraordinary events of 2020 compelled us. We are fundamentally committed to the life-changing effects of face-to-face discussion of primary texts. But the strictures of the pandemic revealed that a face-to-face real-time discussion of primary texts over the computer can be life-changing for students who could never obtain this education otherwise.
We thought that these courses would primarily benefit undergraduates and theology students whose plans had been disrupted by COVID, and several of our past students have been able to enroll at universities this year with our courses as a foundation. But the overwhelming majority of our students have been individuals in the world for whom our classes posed a unique chance to focus on the meaning of life.
In light of this reality, we are restructuring our courses for the Spring 2022 semester. Up until now we have offered three-credit courses that met twice a week for $1,500 per course. Beginning in Spring 2022, we will offer two-credit courses that meet once a week for $798. This shift should allow more people with time and financial constraints to participate in the online discussions. For those who have the time, the change will also open up the possibility of earning four credits from two weekly meetings.