The first of this spring’s Shimer College lecture series, the 30th public lecture series, was “Rethinking Universities & Hutchins: Faculty and Student Resistance to Core Text Curricula” by J. Scott Lee. Of course, at Shimer, there is not much of a “resistance” to reading core texts, so much as complete enthusiasm towards the idea.
J. Scott Lee is the Executive Director and Co-founder of ACTC, the Association for Core Texts and Courts. This organization promotes individuals and groups in the journey to achieve general study, in and out of schools, of texts that have proven to be classic or particularly significant to our cultural canon. They hope to advance liberal education through the integration of core texts into general educational institutions. Lee also discussed the importance of reading Robert Maynard Hutchins as a source of self-assessment for institutions and of understanding about the Great Books program.
During the question and answer session, he discussed the conferences his program hosts annually and how liberal education is exhibited in a “persuasively experiential” way through panels with short papers on the idea of core text curricula. He also shared a letter with us from a professor at Notre Dame who shared that her students from ND's Program of Liberal Studies were dual-majoring in many different topics and broad-minded in their future pursuits.
Lee left the audience wondering about the future of liberal arts educations in other institutions and solidly reaffirmed in their belief in their advocacy about Shimer’s core text approach.
Photograph by Miles Stepto