The Great Questions
Foundation

Seeks to promote liberal education and core-text and
discussion-based learning at the community college

Learn More about TGQF

Projects

projects members are involved with at their home institutions

Board Members

The Great Questions Foundation leadership team

analytics

Vision

discussion-based general education at Community Colleges

We help promote liberal education and core-text and discussion-based learning at the community colleges by...

supporting faculty development

Helping community college faculty focus core-curriculum courses on the discussion-based study of transformative texts.

course redesign

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.

support core-text programs & courses

Organizing and supporting convenings, speaker series and mentoring relationships directed to the improvement of discussion-based teaching and learning.

Projects board members are working on

Project

NEH Bridge to
The Liberal Arts Through Primary
Source Texts

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.

Project

The Great Questions Seminars
at Austin Community College

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.

Project

Core Books
at CUNY
Core Books at CUNY is a 36-month Teagle Foundation-sponsored project that originated at Hostos Community College and is now extended to three other CUNY campuses: The Borough of Manhattan Community College, LaGuardia Community College, and New York City College of Technology. It started as a collaboration between Columbia College and Hostos Community College with the goal of embedding core texts and the issues they raise from the Columbia Core Curriculum into selected required courses at CUNY. This faculty professional development initiative aims to engage students in key humanistic questions while strengthening their reading and writing skills and bolstering student performance related to course learning objectives. At the heart of this initiative is the recognition of the value of a community of practice among faculty and among students as we create opportunities to think, to learn, and to question together.

Project

Freedom and Citizenship
at Columbia University

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.

Project

Wright Great Books Curriculum
The Wright College Great Books Program was founded in 1995 and consists of the Great Books Curriculum and the Great Books Student Society.
 

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.

As part of the GB Program, the GB Student Society organizes extra-curricular activities, such as teacher and student symposia, field trips, panel presentations, guest speakers, and an intercollegiate student symposium. By creating opportunities for the shared reading of texts and organizing events at which students can express and support their claims about ideas contained in Great Books, the GBSS seeks not only to promote literature but also to enable students to develop their critical thinking skills, global awareness, and appreciation of diversity. The GBSS also publishes the Great Books Symposium Journal, which is, perhaps, the only two-year-college academic journal in the country created, composed, peer-reviewed and edited by students. (The editorial board is made up of students and faculty.) The journal allows the GBSS to recognize two-year students’ exceptional scholarship, and its creation was also a response to an unfortunate notion that the GB curriculum is not relevant in the community college setting. As our journal shows, two-year student insight and learning produces scholarly essays of great subtlety and profundity, often brimming with intellectual excitement and originality. Furthermore, in the process of writing critical essays of publishable quality and of reviewing and editing them, students are contributing to the Great Conversation about the essential ideas that challenge and edify humankind.
 

In these ways, the Great Books Curriculum allows for students to achieve richer academic and personal lives.