Borderlines (to begin fall of 2014)
The Good Life (to begin fall 2014)
What is required to live the good life? The good life can be defined as the life that one desires to live. The good life is associated with a state of happiness or contentment; thus the question becomes one of learning how we define and fulfill our needs and aspirations. Understanding the good life is not limited to understanding material needs; it also includes understanding our need for community, spiritual fulfillment, knowledge and education, and understanding what it means to live simply. This theme considers how our economic, ethical, and religious experiences form a value system that helps us attain happiness.
Self and Other (began fall 2012 with Honors Pilot Program)
The Jewish philosopher Martin Buber wrote that “The real self appears only when it enters into relation with the Other.” This cluster will challenge us to examine the issues Buber raises. How do our relationships with the other shape us? What circles of belonging do we draw around ourselves (self, family, school, parish, race or ethnicity, nation), and how do these influence who we are? Where do the circles end and why, and what is our connection and obligation to those outside of them? How do our encounters with others, both near and far, historical and fictional, help us better to understand not just what is different from us, but who we are and might become? How do we imagine the other, and how do these imaginings shape our willingness to learn from, sympathize with, and open ourselves to the other?
Stories We Tell (to begin fall 2013)
It has been said that the destiny of the world is determined less by the battles that are lost and won than by the stories it loves and believes in. Why do we tell stories? For entertainment, certainly. To move, to persuade; to shape belief, to inspire action. We use stories to explain ourselves to others, to make sense of our history and our experience. Ultimately, we use them to organize our world. This theme explores the power of the stories we tell.
The Visionary (to begin fall 2013)
Galileo, Marie Curie, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day, Steve Jobs, Ignatius Loyola. Visionaries imagine what does not yet exist, but might—someday. They often suffer hardship, criticism, and ridicule as others fail to share their visions. What drives the visionary? Necessity, ego, faith, justice, the vision itself? How does the world come to recognize the visionary and eventually come to share in that vision? This theme explores the individuals who have transformed the world with their imagination, courage, and insight.