The Graduate Institute at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, hosts an annual, week-long academic conference for teachers during the month of July, under the co-sponsorship of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Hodson Trust. NEH’s support comes in the form of their We The People program, which is designed to encourage and enhance the teaching, study, and understanding of American history, culture, and democratic principles.
Past conference themes include “Democracy in America,” “Slavery and Hope,” “Equality An American Story,” “Private and Public Individual and State,” and “Science and Society, Promises and Perils.” These themes have been explored through studies of American founding documents, and classic texts by such authors as Alexis de Tocqueville, Frederick Douglass, Mark Twain, W.E.B. DuBois, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Abraham Lincoln, William Faulkner, Herman Melville, Plato, Thomas Hobbes, Francis Bacon, and Jonathan Swift.
Each summer we make use of such authors works to help frame our discussions as we address questions surrounding the various conference themes. In addition to providing a thoughtful examination of timeless texts, the conference provides an excellent opportunity for teachers to experience the discussion-based manner of learning fundamental to St. John’s College, and to exchange ideas with other interested faculty from a variety of disciplines, in an informal though serious context.
During the conference, twice-daily seminars meet Tuesday through Thursday, with a final seminar on Friday. Time is also available to explore the historic city of Annapolis, or to visit other area attractions, including the US Naval Academy just across from our campus. There is no cost to attend; on-campus dormitory housing, the seminar texts, morning coffee, lunch, a travel allowance, and a modest stipend are provided to attendees.
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