Power and Politics

The Great and the Good

July 5–11, 2020 | Annapolis, MD

On-campus Summer Academy has been postponed to summer 2021. You can experience the next best thing during summer 2020: the online Great Books Summer Seminars for High School Students.

In Plato’s Republic, Socrates argues that the best ruler must be a philosopher, who is devoted, above all, to the pursuit of knowledge. In the lengthy conversation that makes up this book, Socrates’ interlocutors need convincing of his approach to politics. So what is the primary responsibility of a leader? And what role do citizens play? What virtues are most needed for each? And what vices are most destructive? We’ll see these questions pursued further with Aristotle, Machiavelli, and Nietzsche, who each offered distinct and penetrating analyses of the relation between morality and politics. Through Plutarch’s biographies, we’ll get to consider some real-life examples of ancient leaders, which will plunge us into the nitty-gritty, everyday realities of power and politics.

Summer Academy Annapolis State House

Classes and Readings

For more information, the college urges students and parents to review expectations and policies, a campus map, and additional need-to-know details about Summer Academy in Annapolis.


Plato, Republic

Aristotle, Politics


Machiavelli, The Prince

Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morals


Plutarch, Parallel Lives: Lycurgus and Numa, Life of Alexander, Life of Caesar

Example Workshops

Croquet, Swing Dancing, Painting/Drawing

Example activities

Visits to the Supreme Court of the United States and Annapolis State House

Summer Academy in Annapolis

At the St. John’s College Summer Academy, the community formed among students is a natural extension of the friendships and ideas formed in the classroom. To this end, Summer Academy students experience life at St. John’s by taking lessons in croquet, swing dancing, sailing, and choral singing. Students’ conversations about justice, nature, and law will continue as they are taken on a tour of the Maryland State House and attend a performance of Shakespeare’s The Tempest by the Annapolis Shakespeare Company.