Every year, thousands of English-speaking adults gather at a number of famous universities to engage for a July week or two in discussion of the great books or great issues.
Led by a faculty member of these schools, participants pursue a “learning vacation” at places like Oxford and Cambridge in England, Cornell in upstate New York, or St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
These one-weekers are conducted without tests, examinations, or grades, simply to re-create the happiest moments of participants’ earlier college lives, when they studied the liberal arts.
But one such program is successfully operated without the help or burden of a large university. It is one of the great success stories of travel, created by Ann Kirkland for operation in her home city of Toronto, Canada (pictured). Hundreds of people come to that impressive city in July and spend a week discussing books or issues selected by her staff.
I attended one of them this past July, discussing two of the celebrated works of the Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope, and could have chosen Homer’s The Iliad or other works instead. I met with a group of largely middle-aged Americans and Canadians who contributed to discussion in the most impressive possible manner.
This coming July, in 2019, participants who examine the website ClassicalPursuits.com will discuss their choice of some dozen remarkable works of literature, specified on that site.
Ann Kirkland’s gamble has succeeded magnificently, proving that a university’s involvement is not strictly necessary when the imaginations and knowledge of smart North Americans are challenged.
The one-weekers in Toronto are only a part of Classical Pursuits. Throughout the rest of the year, the organization conducts fascinating tours of the most imaginative kind to all parts of the world. In the coming months, Classical Pursuits will explore the elements that create a “livable city” in urban areas all over the world. Applications are now being accepted for an intellectual adventure.
For more on Classical Pursuits, simply access ClassicalPursuits.com.