Basic Program of Liberal Education

Why the Great Books?

A woman in a Basic Program classroom reads from Plato's Five Dialogues.

These books wrestle with enduring themes of cultures, societies, emotions, and the human condition. Many of these moral, social, and political questions are as relevant today and strikingly applicable to contemporary issues.

The Basic Program engages directly with primary texts as a way to encounter the meaning of these ideas in their own time, while also inviting students to reflect on their relevance to our present day.

What is a “Great Book”? A book that has been impactful, that is well written, and that is in many ways timeless. We still read Plato because we are still human beings dealing with the fundamental ideas of humanity like happiness, virtue, and justice, and even though society has changed, these fundamental topics have not.

Headshot of Zoe Eisenman, Director of Academics at the Graham School.

Zoë Eisenman, Director of Academics and Basic Program instructor

We believe that study of the Great Books offers a valuable foundation for intellectual inquiry. By letting voices other than our own influence, inspire, and inform our perspective, we can look anew at the world from a variety of viewpoints.

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