What Is Freedom & How Do We Cultivate It?

Zena Hitz + David Townsend

Liberal education is education for freedom. What kind of freedom does it or should it cultivate? Freedom without discipline is anarchy, and life without freedom is tyranny—or so says Annapolis tutor David Townsend, who joins host Zena Hitz in this probing conversation into the nature of freedom, the ways in which individuals and communities can cultivate it, and the need for self-discipline in tempering our freedoms. The two also discuss how a liberal education can free minds from the prejudices connatural to all human communities, and how the St. John’s education strives to do just that.

In this Episode

  • David Townsend
    Guest David Townsend

    David Townsend is a tutor at St. John’s College. This semester, he is exploring Archimedes in freshman laboratory, practicing attentive listening in sophomore music, and reading Chaucer in sophomore seminar.

  • Zena Hitz
    Host Zena Hitz

    Zena Hitz (A95) is a tutor at St. John’s College. This semester, she is performing Lavoisier's experiments in freshman laboratory, reading English poetry in sophomore language, and pondering Machiavelli in sophomore seminar.

Featured Release

The power and beauty of Homer’s imagery in the Iliad is undeniable, and his scenes of battle often prompt vexing questions about ancient and modern virtues. Can killing and dying in war be beautiful? Is a just cause required for glory to be gained? Is war a courageous way of fulfilling human nature and, ultimately, of embracing the reality that death awaits us all? This episode, in which Annapolis host Louis Petrich and tutor Erica Beall delve into the dramatic contrasts that make Homer’s work powerful and war potentially beautiful, invites us to question our own modern perspectives on this ancient text.

Browse All Episodes

Executive Producers Welcome

Continuing the Conversation was funded through the philanthropy of donors to St. John’s College. If you’d like to give to the college’s Annual Fund, your gift will go to support the kinds of inquiry and conversation that comes to life at St. John’s College. It also frees up money for creative projects like this one, which brings great conversation and great books into homes across the world.


Subscribe for Updates

St. John’s College invites the community to awaken their intellect by engaging in mindful exploration. The college offers an array of online and in-person events, ranging from world-class concerts and art exhibitions to lectures and theater performances, as well as tutor-led seminars that provide lifelong learners opportunities to study the Great Books.

Sign up to learn about upcoming events.