Drawn from leading Great Books programs in North America, the Great Discourses faculty consists of experienced professionals expert in the high-touch art of assisting discovery in lifelong liberal education. All are devoted to the close reading and careful analysis of the text(s) being studied; to the cultivation of students’ critical thinking, critical empathy and collaboration skills; and to the facilitation of individual and collective “Aha!” moments of profound discovery not easily attained through solitary reading, passive consumption of lectures and programs, or amateur book groups. Yet each is also a unique educator with a very personal teaching style.
Educated principally at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Chicago, Adam Rose is a teacher and scholar with over 20 years’ experience leading exceptionally effective, award-winning Great Books discussion courses in Western Classics for adult and undergraduate students of diverse ages and backgrounds. Mr. Rose’s teaching emphasizes the development of students’ cognitive skills (close reading, analytical thinking, careful listening, precise speaking and powerful writing) and critical empathy (viewpoint appreciation) as part of facilitating a multifaceted appreciation of the text(s) studied. Mr. Rose is the President and Education Director of Great Discourses.
Zoë Eisenman is a teacher and scholar with over 20 years’ experience leading award-winning Great Books discussion courses in Western Classics for a wide range of adult, undergraduate, and high school students — often pairing ancient and modern works “in dialogue” with one another. Whatever the text(s), Ms. Eisenman’s teaching focuses on close reading as the basis of an informed discussion designed to help students discover their own understanding of the work(s). Ms. Eisenman received her undergraduate education at Vassar College and her graduate education at the University of Chicago and is chair of the University of Chicago Basic Program of Liberal Education for Adults.
David Shiner is an emeritus member of the faculty at Shimer College (now the Shimer Great Brooks School at North Central College), where he taught for 40 years and served several terms as Dean of the College. Throughout his career, Mr. Shiner has helped intellectually curious individuals master classic works from all areas of liberal studies — including philosophy, literature, music, sociology and biology — and he regularly receives outstanding course evaluations that emphasize both his understanding of the texts and his ability to bring out the best in students. Mr. Shiner brings to his classes a love of ideas and a penchant for helping adults from all walks of life develop their ability to subject every text to careful critical scrutiny.
As a passionate lifelong learner with degrees in philosophy, computer science, law and business administration underpinning careers as an engineer and a patent attorney — as well as extensive experience governing an award-winning public library — Cari Barnes brings a wide array of knowledge and talents to her teaching. Ms. Barnes’ courses often push the traditional boundaries of the “liberal arts” by integrating classic texts of science, technology and law with works of philosophy and fiction. Ms. Barnes leads Great Books discussions in the Chicago area and is President of the Midwest Great Books Council.
A native of France who received his undergraduate education in classical humanities at the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and his Ph.D. in philosophy of religions at the University of Chicago, Pierre-Julien (“PJ”) Harter is a teacher and scholar whose research focuses on Indian and Tibetan Buddhist philosophy and whose teaching spans Western and South-Asian philosophy and literature. In addition to introducing “Westerners” to a wide range of “non-Western” classics, Mr. Harter is particularly interested in helping students of all backgrounds explore the intersections and congruences between the classics of the “East” and the classics of the “West.”
Sara MacDonald is an award-winning professor at St. Thomas University in New Brunswick, Canada where she founded a Great Books program in 2002 that she directed until 2015 and in which she continues to teach. Known for a teaching style that promotes lively, penetrating discussions through a blend of intellectual rigor, Socratic humility and a quirky sense of humor, Ms. MacDonald’s courses generally focus on the ways in which great works of philosophy and literature can help illuminate perennial themes and questions of human life. In addition to her teaching, Ms. MacDonald researches and writes about political philosophy, with an emphasis on ethics, freedom and human rights. Ms. MacDonald received her graduate education in political science at Fordham University and her undergraduate education at St. Thomas University.
A lifelong devotee of “Great Books”, Mark Cwik has over 25 years’ experience participating in Great Books discussion courses and over 15 years’ experience leading them for adults in a range of traditional and non-traditional settings. Mr. Cwik’s teaching pays close attention to both the text under consideration and the students’ responses to that text in order to enhance the interaction between the two. Mr. Cwik studied at St. John’s College, worked at the Great Books Foundation, and is currently President of Great Books Great Discussions. He lives in London, England where he facilitates discussions for The London Literary Salon.