If you’ve chosen to attend a small liberal arts college, it's likely because you enjoy focused classes where your opinions are challenged and you can expand your knowledge through discussion. A liberal arts education is designed to develop valuable critical thinking skills and provide students with the ability to better communicate ideas. This is achieved by offering courses in general areas of study such as natural science, philosophy and literature that allow us to ponder the big questions, thereby understanding the various approaches that inform our judgments. A liberal arts degree empowers students with the type of knowledge essential for a free person (or free thinker), providing an opportunity to uncover new understandings about society and the world.
Great Books Program
At the foundation of all Shimer courses is the Great Books program. Great Books goes back to Thomas Jefferson, who believed in the importance of reading literature’s greatest works. Many liberal arts colleges have adopted Great Books as a primary source of education, which opens up a community of discussion amongst students. Great Books come from all over the world and cover a broad range of topics - from Plato to Darwin to Karl Marx. Now that you’re aware of our foundations, let’s look at some liberal arts courses which could spark your interest.
Abnormal psychology studies the behavior patterns, emotions and overall psychology of human beings, which could be used to precipitate mental disorders. This branch of psychology studies the socio-historical attitudes towards abnormality and the attempt to come to an understanding about mental disorders today. This course offers students a deeper insight into the complex world of mental psychology. A question which will continually be addressed in this course is: how do we define mental illness or abnormality?
Society, Culture and Personality
Sociologists work to try and determine an understanding of social processes, with a focus on social class, law, sexuality, religion and secularization. This course introduces students to the main branches of social studies: anthropology, psychology and sociology. Students will evaluate the lives of certain individuals and how they lived and interacted within society, with discussions of readings taken from the Great Books curriculum.
The Nature of Light
Light—its sources, its artificial creation—are topics which have always generated much question and invention. The light emitted from stars in the sky, the refraction of light in water and how to measure light are all puzzling topics which many people don’t take the time to truly understand. Space is an entirely foreign realm of light which we barely have a grasp on, despite hundreds of years of astronomy. The Nature of Light is a natural science course which investigates theories of light, and phenomena which continue to puzzle scientists.