Pano Kanelos on St John’s College and the importance of the liberal arts


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The liberal arts are a frequent political punching bag for partisans on both sides of the aisle. Progressives have gotten used to “deconstructing” the “dead White males” of Western classics, leading populists to view them as either irrelevant for finding work or an actual threat to students’ well-being.

What if neither view was right? What if the liberal arts are more important and more beneficial than they get credit for?

One place where this idea has been put into practice since the 1930s is St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland. St. John’s is famous for its great books curriculum, which takes the foundational texts of Western civilization seriously as the starting point for a life well lived and, somewhat surprisingly, a strong foundation for work and career. St. John’s president, Pano Kanelos, joined the podcast for a conversation about what the liberal arts are and why we need them more than ever.

Mentioned during the show:

Critical race theory debate

St. John’s website

About Pano Kanelos

University Professors Program at Boston University

Derek Walcott

Geoffrey Hill

Roger Scruton

Saul Bellow

University of Chicago Committee on Social Thought

Mark Strand

The Life of the Mind: The Groundbreaking Investigation on How We Think

Know thyself

History of St. John's College

Brent Orrell’s visit to St. John’s

Machiavelli’s ‘The Prince

St. John’s College winery

Pano Kanelos’ new funding model

Pano Kanelos’ farewell interview

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