AN EDUCATION IN GREAT BOOKS — is unique in the conception that the best way to attain knowledge, as opposed to information, opinion, or training, is for students to read and discuss original texts. Plato taught that the mind does not acquire the most meaningful lessons by listening to lectures but by engaging actively in dialogue with a skilled questioner. The Great Books program offers seminars on literature, philosophy, the natural and social sciences, and the arts, in which the teacher acts as a guide and fellow investigator of ideas that have most influenced our world. Students learn to read, think, argue, and write analytically on such questions as what makes a city or an individual civilized, what are the essential qualities and organization of nature, and what lessons history teaches about human behavior, and the best forms of society, economy, and government.
Graduates of this education have gone on to become educational reformers, philosophers, doctors, and statesmen. Most importantly, students of the great books never stop inquiring what it means to be a friend, a good citizen, and a leader.
At ECU, Great Books is an interdisciplinary program sponsored by the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences. Faculty in the College and participating professional schools offer unique courses taught by the Socratic method. One or more seminars are offered each semester on topics across all fields of study, which aim to foster the arts of close reading, lucid writing, and liberal discourse among students and faculty. East Carolina University offers a minor in Great Books, and through the BA in Multidiscipinary Studies, a major option as well.