Sentence of the week

With dimwitted politicians across the political spectrum, our celebrity-crazed culture, the destructive power of unrestrained capitalism, the groaning of the despoiled earth, the cries of the back row that go unheard, the disillusionment and disorientation of a society that desperately needs to be rehumanized—all of this requires broken and humble thinkers, the wounded thinkers.

— Luma Sims in “Thinking is self-emptying




First-year seminar: the land of giants and their shoulders

For some, it is designed to “help students prepare for the transition from high school to college”.

For others, it provides an  opportunity to “ponder the relationship between private and public narratives and forms of representation in a range of texts and cultural traditions”.

In the latter case, students are required to read books:

Fall semester:

  • Genesis
  • Plato, Symposium
  • Virgil, The Aeneid
  • Virgil, The Aeneid
  • St. Augustine, Confessions
  • Dante, Inferno
  • William Shakespeare, Othello
  • Galileo Galilei, Discoveries and Opinions

Spring semester:

  • Pascal, Pensées
  • W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk
  • Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents
  • Karl Marx and F. Engels, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844
  • Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Second Discourse on Inequality
  • Mary Shelley,  Frankenstein
  • Levi, Periodic Table
  • Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse

Ancient Greeks are modern

With a program called Ancient Greeks/Modern Lives: Poetry-Drama-Dialogue, Aquila Theatre will

stage free dramatic readings from 10 plays—including Homer‘s “Odyssey,” Sophocles‘ “Ajax,” and Euripides‘ “Trojan Women“—for the public, especially combat veterans, inner-city residents and rural communities.

The programs, set to take place at 100 public libraries and art centers in some 20 states, will be followed by “town-hall” discussions examining the connections between the classics and contemporary America.

Also on offer: scholarly lectures, reading groups, master drama classes and a resource-laden website.


Corporations should invite them in-house. Ancient texts are great prompters for reflection on perennial themes.

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Art and diagnostics

In Cambridge, Mass., Joel Katz has spent the past six years proving that doctors will be better at their left-brain craft if they’re well-versed in art. First- and second-year Harvard Med students now vie to get into Katz’s 10-week course that uses Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts to teach future physicians how to critically analyze famous paintings.

Those who take the art course typically show “a 50% improvement” in assessing a patient’s symptoms, says Katz, himself an internist. “Usually doctors are not trained in humanism. Students usually say this has expanded their way of thinking, which benefits the patient.” (via

We had similar outings for MBA students in a program that we deliberately designed to promote whole-brain thinking. With phenomenal results!

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