Terms and Conditions

Great Discourses℠ Terms and Conditions

Updated: 1 May 2015


In order to help Great Discourses℠ achieve its mission of supporting a lifelong liberal learning lifestyle for intellectually curious adults from all walks of life by providing convenient, affordable and engaging personal enrichment opportunities of exceptional quality that connect great people with great books, great ideas and each other, we have established these Terms and Conditions governing the responsible use of our websites and other assets and services, including participation in our activities (courses, classes and events).

Use and participation by persons under 18 years of age is not permitted without the express written permission of both that person’s parents or legal guardians and Great Discourses℠.


Acceptable Use and Conduct

You agree to use your access to Great Discourses℠ websites and other assets and services, including Great Discourses℠ activities, in order to promote both your own education, exploration and discovery and those of other Great Discourses℠ community members. Consistent with this, there are uses and conduct that are unacceptable and may result in termination of your access with refund. These include, but are not limited to:

  1. You may not misrepresent your true identity;
  2. You may not access Great Discourses℠ if you are under 18 years of age unless you have the express written consent of both a parent or legal guardian and Great Discourses℠;
  3. You may not allow another to use your account to access Great Discourses℠;
  4. You may not interfere with the learning experience of another;
  5. You may not engage in disruptive or malicious conduct, including spamming, cyberharassment, cyberstalking, hate speech or obscenities;
  6. You may not make a recording of Great Discourses℠ class sessions or events without express, prior written permission from Great Discourses℠;
  7. You may not share or distribute recordings made by Great Discourses℠ and made available to you as a registered participant in class or event;
  8. You may not utilize Great Discourses℠ assets or services for commercial or other non-personal use;
  9. You may not violate the laws of Illinois or of the United States of America or the treaties to which the United States is a party;
  10. You may not violate the terms of service or other requirements of our third party service providers, including the online classroom platform.


As detailed in the “Recording Notice”, Great Discourses℠ creates and retains video and audio recordings of its live, online class sessions and events for various limited educational and promotional purposes intended to provide long-term benefit to the Great Discourses℠ global learning community. If you do not wish to be recorded during a Great Discourses℠ live, online class session or event, you must not attend or participate in any way in such a class session or event. Please review the “Recording Notice” for additional information on the creation and use of recordings.


No one else (including other participants) is permitted to record or copy, transcribe or otherwise capture any Great Discourses℠ activity or any portion thereof. Violation of this rule may result in the violator’s expulsion from the remainder of the Great Discourses℠ activity, without refund, and may result in a ban on future participation. In addition, Great Discourses℠ may take other actions in enforcing its own rights and these Terms and Conditions, at its discretion. Failure by Great Discourses℠ to enforce its rights in one instance does not constitute a waiver to enforce its rights at other times.

All rights in the recordings, including copyrights and rights of publicity, are wholly owned by Great Discourses℠.

Great Discourses℠ Activities (Courses, Classes and Events)

Great Discourses℠ offers professionally designed and led Great Books educational activities (courses, classes and events) to adult learners. Information on these offerings, as well as instructions for registration, is published on Great Discourses℠ websites and in various printed materials.

Great Discourses℠ activities are intended for adults from all walks of life and for mature teens with parental consent. Great Discourses accepts registrations on a first-come, first-served basis but reserves the right to accept or refuse any registration for any reason at its sole discretion.

Great Discourses℠ retains the right to cancel an activity due to insufficient enrollment, in which case we will notify you at least 24 hours prior to the start of activity via email. Of course, your payment (if any) will be promptly refunded or applied to another offering, as you choose.

Great Discourses℠ may modify the activity syllabus before or during an activity based on the instructor’s and/or Education Director’s professional judgment that the changes are likely to improve students’ educational experience. Great Discourses℠ may also reassign instructors, involve a co-instructor, or call on substitute instructors, at its discretion.

Great Discourses℠ takes great care in continually investigating, selecting and evaluating the technology platforms for its operations. Nevertheless, we cannot guarantee the uninterrupted availability or functionality of the online classroom, which is provided by a third party.

Your transmission of disruptive sounds or your participation via an inadequate Internet connection can detract from the learning process of others. If and when this occurs, we may take measures necessary to protect the learning environment for everyone, such as muting your microphone or asking you to phone in.

Great Discourses℠ Methodology

Great Discourses℠ Great Books discussion activities (courses, classes and events) are structured to facilitate students’ critical, collaborative, first-hand engagement with one or more classics of the Western and World traditions, through which students develop a deeper understanding both of the focal text(s) and of themselves — as well as of the world of which the focal text(s) and they are a part. The role of the instructor in such activities is primarily to facilitate discussion, pose questions, and offer occasional insights into the text(s) and/or idea(s) under discussion — not to lecture on “what the book means”. The success or failure of such an activity therefore depends primarily on the combined contributions of all participants, and all students are encouraged to take an active role in each activity. Homework for Great Books discussion activities consists of assigned readings of the focal text(s), which serve as the basis for classroom discussion. Students are therefore asked to do the assigned reading for each activity in a thoughtful and open-minded manner that prepares them for such active participation; this will require time and concentration. Questions raised by the assigned reading are especially encouraged.

A critical exploration of a great book requires that participants ask honest, tough questions of the texts, of themselves and of other participants. A collaborative exploration of a great book requires that participants treat the texts, themselves, and each other with respect. It is Great Discourses℠ policy that participants may argue for or against any interpretation of a focal text, so long as they ground their argument in evidence drawn from the text itself and they acknowledge that others may hold points of view different from their own.

If you believe that you may find our general methodology too upsetting or disturbing or simply not to your liking, then please do not register or participate in our activities. If a particular unfortunate event does occur, please report it as soon as possible to your instructor and/or the Education Director who will work diligently with you to address the issue. Please be advised, however, that Great Discourses℠ is ultimately not responsible for the comments or other behavior of your classmates.

Responsibilities of the Great Discourses℠ Participant

Ensuring the high quality of a Great Discourses℠ educational activity online requires the active cooperation of everyone involved. You must attend to the following items prior to the start of the online course, class or event, at your own expense:

  1. Educational preparation
    1. Obtain the activity syllabus provided by Great Discourses℠ (if any);
    2. Obtain activity materials provided by Great Discourses℠ (if any);
    3. Obtain the required text(s) listed in the syllabus or other event description (if any);
    4. Do the assigned homework in a thoughtful manner (if any);
  2. Required equipment
    1. A modern Internet-enabled computer or other device with sufficient processing power and memory to satisfactorily run standard web-conferencing software (most computers and devices manufactured and sold since 2010 are adequate);
    2. A headset consisting of headphone and a boom microphone, or a pair of high-quality ears buds with an inline microphone;
    3. A reliable, fast Internet connection capable of handling real-time video feeds (most DSL or better connections are fine);
    4. Any free, downloadable software needed for entering the online classroom, before events, if applicable.
  3. Recommended equipment
    1. A telephone to access the online class or activity in the rare case that you cannot connect satisfactorily via the Internet;
    2. A webcam so that others may see you and interact with you more fully;
    3. A “noise-cancelling” microphone in your headset, or earbuds that will minimize the amount of ambient noise your microphone transmits into the online classroom.
  4. A setting conducive to the learning process
    1. Secure an appropriate learning space with a surface for accessing and reading the text(s) and without excessive noise or distractions;
    2. For your privacy, check out what will be visible in the background via your webcam, and remain aware that ambient sounds may be picked up and transmitted to others;
  5. Local start times and dates
    1. You remain continually responsible for determining your local starting times and dates throughout the entire course or activity.

You are responsible for checking out your equipment functionality prior to start of each class session or event. Please understand that the teacher must attend to the activity itself and cannot attend to continuing technical difficulties during the activity. However, we will gladly work with you individually outside of sessions to facilitate your full participation.

Great Discourses℠ Community Member and Third Party Content

You grant Great Discourses℠ a perpetual license to retain and publish the comments you post or otherwise contribute to Great Discourses℠ websites and other assets.

Great Discourses℠ is not responsible for content posted by you or others, including its community members or other third parties, including content linked to from the Great Discourses℠ websites, blogs, news sections, whiteboards or other areas.

Great Discourses℠ may remove or block offending content and may cancel any Great Discourses℠ account for violations, in its sole discretion.

Procedure for Complaints

In the event you become aware of a violation of these Terms and Conditions, or you wish to file a complaint concerning the services provided by Great Discourses℠, please contact us as soon as possible, providing sufficient detail for us to begin an investigation.

By postal mail:
Great Discourses
Ideas in Action LLC
Attention: Adam Rose, Education Director
5000 South Cornell Avenue #4B
Chicago, Illinois 60615-3036

By email:                          [email protected]
By telephone:                  +1 (312) 239-0969
By Skype:                          GreatDiscourses
By facsimile:                    N/A

Although Great Discourses℠ will make reasonable efforts to enforce these Terms and Conditions for the benefit of all members of the Great Discourses℠ global learning community, we cannot be responsible for enforcing the rights of others. A person who believes that his/her rights may have been violated is responsible for enforcing his/her own rights against the alleged violator.

Jurisdiction and Limitation of Liability

Great Discourses℠ will work with you to attempt to address and satisfactorily resolve any complaint you may have without resort to litigation. Failing that, you agree to bring any and all claims in a court of competent jurisdiction located in Chicago, Illinois, USA. The laws of the State of Illinois and the United States of America govern.

You expressly agree that our liability is limited to the refund of your payment to Great Discourses℠.


Great Discourses℠ may amend these Terms and Conditions from time to time. Such amendments will be published on Great Discourses℠ websites. Your use of Great Discourses℠ websites and other assets and services subsequent to the publication of such amendments constitutes your consent and agreement to the Terms and Conditions as amended.