Projects members are involved with at their home institutions
The Great Questions Foundation leadership team
Discussion-based general education at Community Colleges
Helping community college faculty focus core-curriculum courses on the discussion-based study of transformative texts.
Providing training and mentorship for faculty from all disciplines in their continued exploration of texts that investigate persistent human questions and the discussion-based approach to teaching them.
Organizing and supporting convenings, speaker series and mentoring relationships directed to the improvement of discussion-based teaching and learning.
BLAST – “Bridge to the Liberal Arts through Source Texts,” – is an innovative partnership between Anne Arundel Community College and St. John’s College, funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The 3-year program integrates a Core Texts curriculum and St. John’s discussion-based pedagogy into high-enrollment classes within the existing AACC humanities curriculum. In addition, BLAST will establish programming between the two institutions bringing together students and faculty, and create a transfer pathway from AACC to St. John’s. The theme of the program is Equity and Inclusion—two key values that are central to AACC’s core philosophy, “the basic convictions of our country’s democratic ideal: that individuals be given full opportunity to discover and develop their talents and interests.” AACC and St. John’s believe that by engaging with fundamental questions in inclusive discussions, students from both institutions can become active and engaged citizens ready to grapple with the contemporary challenges.
The aim of The Great Questions Project is simple: to provide all students, regardless of major, the opportunity for early academic engagement with core-texts in discussion-based courses lead by faculty who are passionate about their success. Courses that revolve around a discussion model and offer core-text readings in lieu of textbooks help students of all age and ability levels develop the practice and skills needed to speak clearly, read carefully, reason effectively, and think creatively – giving them a solid foundation to build their academic careers, professional goals, and become engaged lifelong civic leaders. We firmly believe in the power of a community college education: to provide accessible and quality liberal arts education, ensuring that all can grow and prosper in our free society.
The Freedom and Citizenship college seminar and academic enrichment program began in 2009 as a partnership between Columbia’s Double Discovery Center and the Center for American Studies. Our goal is to introduce dedicated high school students to college-level work in the humanities and prepare them for lives as informed, responsible citizens.
Students attend a free four-week residential program in July where they take an intensive seminar course on political philosophy taught by Ivy League professors. The summer program is followed by a year-long civic leadership project where students research contemporary political issues and develop advocacy initiatives under the supervision of undergraduate teaching assistants.
In the autumn, students also benefit from college application guidance from the Double Discovery Center and mentoring from Columbia College undergraduates. Successful students receive letters of recommendation from their summer professors to accompany their college applications.
The GB Curriculum is a set of core courses in English, History, Humanities, Literature, Philosophy, Political Science, Reading, Religion, and Theatre. GB classes are those in which at least half of the readings are chosen from roughly 275 of the most central and influential thinkers in our civilization. The classes expose students to the great ideas humankind has produced, helping students to better understand the meaning of their lives and the world. Students who complete four GB courses with a GPA of 3.0 or greater receive a designation of completion on their transcripts. Finally, the GB Curriculum is designed to transcend the college’s individual departments to allow students see themselves not just as potential majors of a particular field but as people who are educated in the broadest sense and in ways that can create well-read, confident, and empowered citizens.
In these ways, the Great Books Curriculum allows for students to achieve richer academic and personal lives.
How one community college system discarded a cookie-cutter approach to education.
At Austin Community College (ACC), Ted Hadzi-Antich Jr. leads students in a course called Great Questions. It’s a humanities-based, student-centered discussion class, where classic texts are connected with the students' modern lives.