Add to Calendar 2024-07-14 00:00:00 2024-07-27 23:59:59 Two-Week Great Books Program for High School Students Thomas Aquinas College America/Los_Angeles public

High school students from around the country join members of the teaching faculty on the campus of Thomas Aquinas College, California, for spirited conversation, engaging firsthand some of the best works of the past 2,500 years. They read and discuss works selected from the masters of the Western intellectual tradition, including Plato, Euclid, Sophocles, Shakespeare, St. Thomas Aquinas, Pascal, and Boethius. It is a time for forging new friendships, for enjoying the give and take of rational argument, and for pursuing the truth, which civilizes, ennobles, and liberates. It is the Summer Great Books Program at Thomas Aquinas College, California!

The pursuit of wisdom begins with wonder — wonder about the causes and principles of man and nature, and wonder about God, who is the first cause and principle of all things. Through serious consideration of questions which deeply concern each person — and the whole of society — the Summer Program at Thomas Aquinas College encourages wonder and leads participants toward wisdom.


The great books are the seminal works in all the major areas of learning, including mathematics, science, literature, philosophy, and theology. In studying and discussing these works, rather than textbooks, students engage firsthand with the greatest minds of Western civilization. The great books open up for the student the truth about reality. Studied carefully under the light of the Faith, they animate the minds and hearts of students, satisfying the hunger for the truth that makes men free.

During the first week of the program, discussions focus on questions concerning religious, moral, and political authority raised by Sophocles in Oedipus Rex and Antigone, and by Plato in the Crito. The account of the creation and fall of man in Genesis prompts a discussion about man’s nature and free will. Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling, Pascal’s famous essay on the “wager,” and St. Thomas Aquinas’ proofs for the existence of God all occasion considerations of the right relation between faith and reason. The great French naturalist J. Henri Fabre argues for purpose and order in nature, confronting those who, like some pre-Socratic philosophers, subscribe to the perennial idea of a godless universe, purely material and existing by chance.

The second week begins with Shakespeare’s Macbeth, a portrayal of fallen man in all of his imperfection and corruption. A look at Euclid’s Elements demonstrates the intelligibility, order, and accessibility of mathematical ideas when they are understood through their causes. The curriculum concludes with a reading of Boethius’ classic work, the Consolation of Philosophy, which addresses more fully many of the issues considered throughout the program. Classes are conducted, like all classes at Thomas Aquinas College, using the Discussion Method, guided by members of the teaching faculty. Class size is limited to 17 students in order to allow each student the opportunity to contribute to the discussions.

The location of Thomas Aquinas College, New California, is ideal for recreation of all sorts. In addition to daily sports, occasional movies, and hiking in the hills surrounding the campus, the program includes trips to the Getty Museum, a concert in Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara for volleyball on the beach and exploration of the historic city.

Thomas Aquinas College is genuinely Catholic and has a rich sacramental life. Mass is offered daily, and a chaplain is available on campus at all times. None of the religious activities are mandatory, however, and non-Catholic students are truly welcome.

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