The New College Liberal Arts program is for those who wish to learn how to think, not what to think. The great ideas covered in this program have been the foundation of dynamic, independent thinking for millennia. Come join us in learning the wisdom of the ages.

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

Students seeking a B.A. degree have the option of continuing as distance education students or finishing their studies on New College’s beautiful Sarasota Bay campus to combine their Great Books studies with other academic programs offered by the college. All students earning a degree will be invited to attend New College’s traditional May graduation ceremony.  

STAY IN TOUCH
Loading…

 

Frequently Asked Questions

New College was established on the foundation of great western traditions in the liberal arts. This program empowers students with a classical liberal arts education based on essential teachings from the greatest thinkers in history. Learn more below!

The program is designed for everyone from recent high school graduates to advanced lifelong learners. Students seeking a B.A. degree have the option of continuing as distance education students or finishing their studies on New College’s beautiful Sarasota Bay campus to combine their Great Books studies with other academic programs offered by the college. All students earning a degree will be invited to attend New College’s traditional May graduation ceremony.   

To be admitted to the program, prospective students must apply to New College through the normal admissions process. Select “Yes” on the application on the question that asks:

“​Are you interested in enrolling in our new Great Books Curriculum distance learning program​?”

All New College academic standards apply to these programs.

All classes are designated as “online” or “on-campus,” and a sufficient number of classes will be offered online each semester.

 

Learn more about the elite New College faculty who will guide you on your journey through the Great Books curriculum: ncf.edu/great-books

GRBK 2050 – History of Ideas – Part 1 (Ancient Greece) (Dr. Jeff Scarborough)

Mon/Thur. 2:30-3:50pm ET (4 credits). Online.

The flourishing of ancient Greece saw the beginnings of the western tradition in literature, history, drama, philosophy, and science. These contributions remain central to our thinking and culture because they have shaped an ongoing conversation we are still part of, and because in many cases they engage and speak directly to questions we still care about. The course starts by developing an understanding of the techniques and themes of drama through the defiant characters of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes. In Homer, Herodotus, and Thucydides, we look at the role of myth and the emergence of historical thinking. Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, meanwhile, set an agenda and advance methods for investigating questions about ethics, politics, metaphysics, and the natural world.

This course is the first in a sequence that will give students a comprehensive grounding in the western tradition.

Seminar, Online, Introductory. Prerequisites: none. Seating is limited.

↔↔↔↔↔↔

GRBK 2350 – Euclid’s Elements (Dr. Andrew Humphries)

Mon/Thur. 1-2:20pm ET (4 credits). Online.

Among the Greeks’ most significant contributions to mathematics, philosophy, and science was their focus on deductive reasoning and proof. Over time the Greeks developed their rudimentary and fragmentary efforts at rigorous proof into a high art. This development culminated in one of the greatest and most influential books of Western thought: The Elements of Geometry by Euclid of Alexandria.

Written around 300 BC, Euclid’s Elements is a masterful synthesis that perfected and codified the method of proof into a unified, axiomatic system. Although most of the results Euclid proved in the Elements were discovered by his predecessors, his approach to proving and systematizing mathematical knowledge was so profound, beautiful, and pedagogically useful, his book replaced what had gone before it. It became the standard textbook in geometry for well over 2000 years, and served as the foundation for the subsequent development of mathematics.

This class explores Book 1 of Euclid’s Elements firsthand as a model of mathematical thinking. To experience the axiomatic, deductive method, we will set aside what we think we know and examine the extent to which we can build apodictically certain knowledge from a handful of simple premises. We will also read short, supplemental readings on the significance and application of deductive reasoning, on the Pythagoreans, and on the great mathematician-scientist Archimedes.

This class is appropriate for those with no prior knowledge of mathematics who wish to have a genuine experience of logic and mathematical thinking, as well as students in mathematics who wish to explore and reflect on the roots and foundations of their subject. Everyone taking the class will have a profound encounter with one of the greatest works of all time and come away with enhanced powers of logical thought.

Seminar, Online, Introductory. Prerequisites: none. Seating is limited.

↔↔↔↔↔↔

GRBK 3150 – Plato (Dr. Jeff Scarborough)

Tues/Fri. 1-2:30pm ET (4 credits). Online. Begins January 30.

Through his depiction of Socrates, Plato develops a model of questioning, definition, and critique that has deeply shaped approaches to education and inquiry and continues to serve as a powerful model for careful thinking about a wide range of topics. This course begins by exploring the Socratic “method” as developed in Plato’s early dialogues on ethical questions and the life of Socrates. In subsequent, more elaborate dialogues including the Meno, Symposium, and Republic, Plato uses these and additional literary tools including myth and allegory to inquire about the nature of perennial values ranging from love to knowledge and the ideal state. In reading and discussing the texts, we will consider the questions and views Socrates and Plato confront in these dialogues, while also practicing the methods used to navigate them. In the process, we will develop skills and strategies for interpretation, identification of argumentative claims and inferences, and evaluation of arguments.

Seminar, Online, Introductory. Prerequisites: none. Seating is limited.

 

GRBK 2050 – History of Ideas Part 1 – Ancient Greece (Dr. Jeff Scarborough)

Mon/Tue/Wed/Thur. 6:00-7:20pm ET (4 credits). Online. June 3-July 18.

The flourishing of ancient Greece saw the beginnings of the western tradition in literature, history, drama, philosophy, and science. These contributions remain central to our thinking and culture because they have shaped an ongoing conversation we are still part of, and because in many cases they engage and speak directly to questions we still care about. The course starts by developing an understanding of the techniques and themes of drama through the defiant characters of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes. In Homer, Herodotus, and Thucydides, we look at the role of myth and the emergence of historical thinking. Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, meanwhile, set an agenda and advance methods for investigating questions about ethics, politics, metaphysics, and the natural world.

This course is the first in a sequence that will give students a comprehensive grounding in the western tradition.

Seminar, Online, Introductory. Prerequisites: none. Seating is limited.

↔↔↔↔↔↔

GRBK 2600 – Foundations of American Democracy – (Dr. Richard Izquierdo and Dr. William Hustwit)

Mon/Tue/Wed/Thur. 3:30-4:50pm ET (4 credits). Online. June 3-July 18.

The flourishing of ancient Greece saw the beginnings of the western tradition in literature, history, drama, philosophy, and science. These contributions remain central to our thinking and culture because they have shaped an ongoing conversation we are still part of, and because in many cases they engage and speak directly to questions we still care about. The course starts by developing an understanding of the techniques and themes of drama through the defiant characters of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes. In Homer, Herodotus, and Thucydides, we look at the role of myth and the emergence of historical thinking. Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, meanwhile, set an agenda and advance methods for investigating questions about ethics, politics, metaphysics, and the natural world.

This course is the first in a sequence that will give students a comprehensive grounding in the western tradition.

Seminar, Online, Introductory. Prerequisites: none. Seating is limited.

GRBK 2100 – Introduction to Classical Humanities (Dr. Spencer Klavan)

Tue/Thur. 4:00-5:20pm ET (4 credits). Online. August 26-December 13.

In this course, students will learn about the creative ideas and accomplishments of various cultures in various fields of humanities that may include art, architecture, drama, history, music, literature, philosophy, and religion. The course will include cultural expressions from the Western canon and may also include expressions from around the globe.   Students will be introduced to major works of literature from Ancient Greece and Rome, with a special emphasis on the High Classical period in Athens (c. 480-323 B.C.) and the Augustan period of the Roman Empire (c. 46 B.C. to 18 A.D.). There will also be selections from the Bible and from Near Eastern literature, chosen to illuminate common themes and significant differences among the civilizations of the ancient world. The course will survey foundational ideas that shaped the outlook of those civilizations and continue to affect modern people profoundly as well.

↔↔↔↔↔↔

GRBK 2200 – Introduction to Classical Philosophy (Dr. Jeff Scarborough)

Tue/Thur. 6:00-7:20pm ET (4 credits). Online. August 26-December 13.

In this course, students will be introduced to the nature of philosophy, philosophical thinking, major intellectual movements in the history of philosophy, including topics from the western philosophical tradition, and various problems in philosophy. Students will strengthen their intellectual skills, become more effective learners, and develop broad foundational knowledge.  In particular, the course examines thinkers including Socrates and Plato, Aristotle, and figures in the Stoic and Epicurean traditions as they inquire into the nature of virtue and the best life, appropriate forms of political organization, the fundamental constituents of reality, the persistence of the soul, elements of formal logic, and other enduring philosophical topics. In addition to analyzing and critiquing these influential views, students will practice the tools and strategies characteristic of these authors.

Seminar, Online, Introductory. Prerequisites: none. Seating is limited.

↔↔↔↔↔↔

GRBK 2300 Foundations of Mathematical Thought (Dr. Andrew Humphries and Dr. Milo Schield)

Mon/Wed/Fri. 1:00-2:20pm ET (4 credits). Online. August 26-December 13.

In this course, students will utilize multiple means of problem solving through student-centered mathematical exploration. The course is designed to teach students to think more effectively and vastly increase their problem-solving ability through practical application and divergent thinking. This course is appropriate for students in a wide range of disciplines/programs.  In addition to looking at modern sources, students will look at the foundations of mathematics by proving theorems from great books by Euclid, Nicomachus, and Archimedes that illuminate the historical and philosophical roots of the subject. This approach will enable students to develop their ability to understand mathematical concepts, interpret and reason about geometric figures, examine the nature of magnitude and number, and handle logic both as an object of inquiry and as a tool for solving problems.

Seminar, Online, Introductory. Prerequisites: none. Seating is limited.

↔↔↔↔↔↔

GRBK 2400 – The Middle Ages (Dr. Thomas McCarthy)

Mon/Thur. 10:30-11:50am ET (4 credits). Online. August 26-December 13.

Why does our alphabet look the way it does? Why do we have elective government? Where does the term quarantine originate? These are a few of the many questions you will only be able to answer after studying the Middle Ages. This transformative period in human history has shaped the modern world and given us much of what we take for granted in our daily lives—our institutions of government, our concepts of ethics and law, as well as our ideas about art, culture, religion and philosophy. The Middle Ages in a handful of great books introduces students to the way in which the period has shaped the outlook of our society by concentrating on a number of important works written between the fourth century and the fourteenth in centres from north Africa to Germany, and England to Italy. Among the books read in detail will be St Augustine’s autobiography Confessions, Peter Abelard’s ethical treatise Know thyself, Lampert of Hersfeld’s historical masterpiece The annals, the philosophical theology of Anselm of Bec and Thomas Aquinas as well as Dante Aligheri’s classic the Divine comedy. The course is not just about the content of these and other medieval works: it will help students gain confidence with the rich intellectual culture of the period, to situate ideas in their appropriate historical context and to understand how ideas and priorities change over time. At its heart, this course is interdisciplinary in character, and our discussions will also take us into the fields of art and architecture, book production, music and some of the other great works of intellectual culture produced by the women and men of the Middle Ages.

Seminar, Online, Introductory. Prerequisites: none. Seating is limited.

GRBK 2500 – The Copernican Revolution and Beyond (Dr. Milo Schield)

Mon/Wed/Fri 1:00-2:20pm

This course provides a comprehensive look at modern astronomy, emphasizing the use of the scientific method and the application of physical laws to understand the Universe including Earth and its environment. Throughout this course, students will develop the ability to discern scientific knowledge from non-scientific claims by using critical thinking.  In addition to looking at modern sources, students will read excerpts from great books by Ptolemy, Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Kepler, and Galileo. This approach will enable them to examine how scientific theories evolve, to explore the issue of what is involved in distinguishing scientific knowledge from non-scientific claims, and to practice critical thinking.

↔↔↔↔↔↔

GRBK 2600 – Foundations of American Democracy (Dr. Adam Rowe)

Time TBD

In this course, students will investigate the philosophical and historical foundations of the American Republic, including but not limited to the Declaration of Independence, the United States constitution and all its amendments, and The Federalist Papers. The course covers the underlying principles that explain how the national government is structured and operates. The course examines the branches of government and the government’s laws, policies, and programs. It also examines the ways in which citizens participate in their government and ways their government responds to citizens.

↔↔↔↔↔↔

GRBK 2700 –  Introduction to Modern Literature (Instructor TBD)

Time TBD

In this course, students will be assigned readings representative of a broad range of literary genres and cultures. These readings will cover a variety of literary movements and historical eras. The readings will include, but are not limited to, selections from the Western canon. Written analysis of literary works may be required. Students will be provided with opportunities to practice critical interpretation. (Note: this is BOG LIT X000 course description; instructor will provide additional text about specific course readings and objectives).

↔↔↔↔↔↔

GRBK 2800 – Modernity and Its Discontents (Dr. David Allen Harvey)

Time TBD

This course will introduce students to some of the classic works of social and political thought from the Renaissance to the twentieth century.  Topics covered will include the structure and purpose of government; the proper relationship between state, society, and the individual; the course and direction of history; human nature and the limits of reason; and the nature of modernity and its impact on both individuals and societies.  Students will develop their abilities to think critically and analytically about big issues by engaging with challenging texts.

All Great Books program students qualify for in-state tuition. And all full-time degree-seeking students receive an 80% in-state tuition waiver. Need-based aid may also be available for degree-seeking students.

 

Classes in the Great Books degree program are offered each Fall, Spring and Summer semester.

Complete the form at the bottom of the page to stay up-to-date on the next classes starting. If you have questions, contact Alex Muller ([email protected]; 941-487-4476; Schedule a Meeting) for more information.

No. Courses are offered on a set schedule, and students are grouped in small class cohorts led by New College professors. All courses will be taught live through a combination of real-time video seminars, guest lectures from experts, peer-to-peer discussions and your own reading and study. Regular attendance per the class schedule is required.

Liberal arts degrees are a path to the critical thinking and problem solving skills needed to succeed in an ever-changing society. Grappling with timeless questions has allowed many great men and women to adapt and thrive, leading to successful careers and fulfilling lives.

New College President Richard Corcoran describes the liberal arts below:

“The term “liberal arts” has become increasingly broad over the years as this track in most colleges is just a chaotic hodgepodge of courses. As a result of this, “classical” works as a stand-in because it points back to when the idea of a “liberal arts” education originated – around 400 BC when the Greeks were working to create a successful paradigm for self-governance and understood education to be an important part of that effort. The term “classical” also points to the idea that a component of learning how to think is being exposed to the conversation of the centuries, not just the thoughts from our own moment in time. We are born into a conversation that has been happening for thousands of years. In it, there have been certain people – artists, authors, philosophers, scientists, mathematicians – whose works speak across cultures and times and social status to the biggest questions of existence. It is not a perfect conversation, but there are certain contributors to the conversation that have helped humanity “stitch together the patches of the universe.” This conversation addresses questions that are common to all humanity such as: what is my purpose in this world? Who is my neighbor? What is the good life? These are just a few. The time to contemplate these is at the beginning of life. The answers will lay the groundwork for how students will meet the challenges and adventures ahead of them.”

Apply today!

Complete the New College application online or complete the form above for more information and to stay in touch. Admissions is rolling. Enrollment is limited. Apply Online