Types of Discussion Courses

Types of Discussion Courses

Great Discourses’ Great Books discussion courses are “collaborative close readings of classics” in which participants read and discuss great books with the guidance of a professional educator in small classes that provide educational experiences of the highest-possible quality. Students typically do a modest amount of reading homework in preparation for each live class session, but there are no papers, no tests and no grades; and all readings and discussions are in English.

Course Formats

Courses vary in course length and class duration. Courses typically consist of either of 4, 7, or 11 weekly class sessions, with individual class sessions lasting either 1:45 (one period with no break) or 2:45 (two 1:15 periods with a 15-minute break in the middle). Most courses offer two sections scheduled for different days of the week and different times of day. Students register and regularly attend the section that is most convenient for them but may attend the other section from time-to-time if needed.

Course Sequences

Some courses are designed and offered as part of a sequence of related courses. Unless otherwise noted, courses may be taken individually.

Types of Courses

Great Discourses currently offers Great Books discussion courses of the following types:

  • General Interest Courses
  • Signature Courses
  • Educator Development Courses

General Interest Courses

General interest courses span a wide range of topics from the ancient to the modern and the sacred to the secular, and often combine texts in unusual ways that highlight each work’s unique characteristics. Courses are open to adults (and mature teens with parental consent) and no specialized prior knowledge or experience is required. Most courses are eligible for Continuing Education Units (CEU).

General interest courses fall within one or more topic categories:

Category Description
Abrahamic Scriptures as Literature Read and discuss the scriptures of the Abrahamic traditions and related works of literature from secular, nonsectarian perspectives. Compare and contrast classic works of the Abrahamic and Greco-Roman traditions.
America(na) Explore aspects of America and various "American Experiences" through fiction and non-fiction.
Ancient Philosophy, Modern Issues Compare and contrast ancient and modern perspectives on enduring aspects of the human condition.
Arts of Affluence Explore the philosophy and psychology of wealth through classics of fiction and non-fiction.
Greco-Roman World Master classics of the classical age, both individually and in a variety of provocative combinations.
Math, Science & Technology Study classic works of science, the philosophy of science, and science fiction, as well as classics of math and technology, "as literature".
On Human Excellence Read and discuss classic works in one of the most important branches of philosophy.
Philosophy Read and discuss classics works by great thinkers from the ancient, medieval and modern worlds.
Shakespeare Literally in a category by themselves, Shakespeare's works repay close study individually and in a variety of provocative combinations.
Western & World Classics Read and discuss the best which has been thought and said on a wide range of subjects from a wide range of perspectives.

Signature Courses

Signature courses are designed to meet the needs of particular groups of lifelong liberal learners. “More, Better, Faster” Great Books advanced skill development discussion courses are specially designed to offer native and non-native English speakers the opportunity to hone their reading, thinking, listening, speaking and writing skills while studying what some of history’s greatest thinkers have thought about these very skills.

Educator Development Courses

Great Discourses offers special professionally designed and led Great Books online discussion courses for Great Books educators (broadly understood to encompass college and university professors, K-12 teachers, adult educators, administrators, homeschooling parents and others with a serious interest in Great Books education). Like most Great Books discussion courses, class sessions revolve around a critical, collaborative discussion of classic texts read in advance. Unlike most other such courses, however, the classic readings in educator courses allow participants to increase their proficiency with one or more aspects of Great Books education (also broadly understood). Although educator development courses are listed publicly, registration is handled individually by email in order to maintain the professional focus of these courses. Most courses are eligible for Continuing Education Units (CEU).