Great Books Programs in Canada

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Great Books Programs in Canada are university/college programs inspired by the Great Books movement begun in the United States in the 1920s. The aim of such programs is to return to the Western Liberal Arts tradition in education. Those who mount such programs consider them to be corrective of what they perceive to be an extreme disciplinary specialisation common within the academy.

The essential component of such programs is a high degree of engagement with the Western canon of whole primary texts deemed to be essential for a student's education. The canon includes books such as Plato's Republic and Dante's Divine Comedy. Great Books programs often focus exclusively on Western culture. Their employment of primary texts dictates an interdisciplinary approach, as most of the Great Books do not fall neatly under the scope of a single contemporary academic discipline.

Great Books programs often include designated discussion groups as well as lectures, and have small class sizes. Students in these programs usually receive an abnormally high degree of attention from their professors, as part of the overall aim of fostering a community of learning.

List of Great Books programs in Canada[edit]

The list of Great Books programs in Canada includes:


  • Memorial University's Grenfell Campus, in Cornerbrook, has a Humanities program.

Nova Scotia[edit]

Prince Edward Island[edit]

New Brunswick[edit]

  • St. Thomas University in Fredericton has a Great Books program called the Great Books Program. The University also runs an interdisciplinary Great Books program exclusively for first-year students called The Aquinas Program.






British Columbia[edit]

  • Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo has offered a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major and minor in Liberal Studies since 1991. The Liberal Studies courses are interdisciplinary, seminar-based and team-taught; they deal primarily but not exclusively with the Western tradition, focus on the development of critical skills and include hands-on art and science.

Further reading[edit]

  • Emberley, Peter C. and Newell, W.R., Bankrupt Education: The Decline of Liberal Education in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, May 1994.
  • Kay, Barbara, "Higher education's best-kept secret." National Post (Canada). Wednesday, November 19, 2008.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]