St. John's College Executive Seminars aim to address fundamental questions of the human condition through a close reading and discussion of great works of literature, philosophy, and political discourse. An Executive Seminar is neither a lecture, nor a book club. At St. John’s, seminars are lively, in-depth, highly participatory conversations about the reading at hand. Discussions begin with an opening question which can take on a myriad of dimensions.
The seminar discussion is exploratory; no previous knowledge of the author, text, or subject is required and participants refer only to books/readings the group has read together. Conversations are not debates. Challenging other’s ideas or offering alternative thinking is encouraged as long as the goal is insight, not didacticism.
At the college, we believe that real learning happens when seminar participants take responsibility for understanding these beautiful but difficult works through discussion with others. In such discussion participants come to a deeper understanding of the reading and of the issues it raises.