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- by  New College Communications

SARASOTA, Fla. — New College of Florida is debuting a version of its liberal arts degree in Spring 2024 that will feature classes offered through distance learning, supported by live video-conferencing seminars and discussion groups so that it will be accessible to students everywhere. The liberal arts curriculum spans the period from Ancient Greece to the modern age, and planned program outcomes include a four-year bachelor’s degree, a two-year associate degree, and a one-year certificate.

New College was established on the foundation of great western traditions in the liberal arts. The New College faculty-led program includes Ricketts Great Books College materials and will expand access to these timeless lessons to a global audience. This program will empower students with a liberal arts education adapted for life in an ever-changing world by providing curriculum based on essential teachings from the greatest thinkers in history.  

“For college students today, it is essential they learn how to think, before embarking on a specialization and learning what to think” said Joe Ricketts, founder of Ricketts Great Books College. Ricketts added, “For 2,500 years this knowledge has been the bedrock of teaching students how to think independently. New College’s liberal arts degree, working in collaboration with Ricketts Great Books College, helps them develop critical thinking skills better than any other approach. It covers timeless ideas over the first year, then explores those ideas in depth to unearth their modern and forward-thinking applications during subsequent semesters.”   

“This effort expands the reach of New College’s offerings and further distinguishes our Honors College from our peers,” said New College President Richard Corcoran. “This program will allow us to reach constituencies of all ages and in all locations and help to create generations of better leaders, entrepreneurs, parents, and fully engaged citizens.”  

The new distance learning courses will be taught by New College faculty. The program will be overseen by Dr. David Allen Harvey, who was recently appointed as the inaugural dean of the Center for the Study of Western Civilization. Harvey, who holds a Ph.D. in Modern European History from Princeton, is tenured and has taught at New College since 2000. He is the former chair of the Division of Social Sciences and Chair of the Faculty, and former chair of the Educational Policy Committee.

“I am honored to have been selected by President Corcoran to lead this exciting new venture,” said Harvey. “The Great Books form part of the shared cultural heritage of humanity, and I am pleased that we will be expanding our reach to offer a classical liberal arts education to students who have not previously had access to this transformative learning experience.”

Mr. Ricketts has generously pledged scholarship funding to the program so that the projected tuition cost of a bachelor’s degree will be less than $12,000. With the scholarship, each 4-credit course will cost eligible students less than $160. The scholarship rewards students for investing in themselves, working hard and seeing the program through to completion. The Ricketts Scholarship will be administered through the New College Foundation.  

“The Ricketts Scholarship is one of the least restrictive scholarships in the nation, benefitting not just under-resourced learners but also those who may be pursuing college on non-traditional timelines later in life or after discovering the pitfalls of seeking higher education at an institution with higher costs and lower results,” said New College Foundation Executive Director Sydney Gruters. 

The program is designed to suit everyone from recent high school graduates to advanced lifelong learners. After completing their A.A. degree, students will have the option of continuing as distance education students to a B.A. degree or finishing their studies at New College’s beautiful Sarasota Bay campus to combine their Great Books studies with other academic programs offered by the college. The four-year completion of the program involves eight 16-credit semesters. All students completing the program will be invited to attend New College’s traditional May graduation ceremony. 

The program is launching for the Spring 2024 semester, which begins January 29, with three courses: Euclid’s Elements, Plato, and History of Ideas Part 1. The History of Ideas is an eight-part sequence covering Western Intellectual History from ancient Greece to modern America. The program is designed so that students may take the history of ideas sequence to understand the broad framework of intellectual history and then take individual courses for a deep dive into subjects of interest. More courses will be added with each semester. 

New College is the smallest of 12 institutions in the State University System of Florida. Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Legislature have provided an infusion of new leadership and financial appropriations to allow the College to reclaim its past stature among America’s great liberal arts schools. The offering of a program that takes classical learning to students outside of the historic and magnificent Sarasota campus is a leap forward in New College’s rebirth. 

More information may be found at 

Applications for the program are being accepted now at Rolling admission will be offered, with the first course offerings set to coincide with the start of New College’s Spring 2024 semester on January 29. Enrollment is limited. Prospective applicants should contact Alex Muller at 941-487-4476 or [email protected] for questions regarding the application process.