Benedictine Great Books in U.S. Top 20
Benedictine College’s Great Books courses have been rated among the best that America has to offer.
The website BestCollegeReviews.org reviews and ranks the best online universities and certain aspects of colleges and higher education. They recently looked at the study of Great Books, compiling a list of the country’s top 25 offerings.
Benedictine College’s Great Books courses not only made it into the top 25, but they were rated among the top 20 in the country, above the University of Chicago, Ohio Wesleyan University, Faulkner University, St. Olaf College, Mercer University, and Central Washington University.
By making it onto the list, Benedictine College was grouped with such schools as Columbia University, Notre Dame, Boston College, and St. John’s College.
According to Best College Reviews, “Though the program is new, Benedictine College was founded in 1858 by two Benedictine monks and six students.” Monks have a privileged place in the history of the Great Books. Because Benedictine is a liberal arts college, many existing classes qualify for as Great Books courses. Since its launch last year, a Great Book sequence has been started which explores the development of human thought and imagination in the Ancients, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the Moderns over the course of four years.
Another distinctive feature the raters mention: “Great Books students are encouraged to spend a semester in Florence, Italy, where they will be introduced to the cultural richness of the West.”
The Great Books courses began in the 2014-2015 academic year as a more traditional liberal arts option for students, regardless of major, to fulfil their general education requirements.
Besides studying the books themselves, Benedictine Great Books students experience literature and the arts in other mediums as well. Scholars take trips to places such as the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum, where they can see everything from mummies to Da Vinci to Degas, and the Kauffman Center for Performing Arts, where the Kansas City Orchestra, Opera, and Ballet perform.
Benedictine College President Stephen D. Minnis said that he and all those at Benedictine were “excited to give our students the chance to systematically study the Great Books. Sharing these world-changing works is a great example of the college’s mission.”
Benedictine has several sequences, including a 15-year old, three-semester course on Faith and Reason, which is incorporated into the Great Books sequence. The Great Books courses are headed by Dr. Susan Orr Traffas and Dr. Edward Mulholland.
Dr. Susan Orr Traffas came to Benedictine College in 2008 after a decades-long career in public policy. With a BA in Politics from University of Dallas, Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate School. She is the author of Jerusalem and Athens: Reason and Revelation in the Works of Leo Strauss, and of numerous articles and chapters on political philosophy, child and family policy and the role of women in society. She sits on the editorial board of Interpretation: A Journal of Political Philosophy, and is currently serving on the board of Fellowship of Catholic Scholars.
Dr. Edward Mulholland is Assistant Professor of Classical and Modern Languages at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. He holds a Doctorate in Philosophy from Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University, and an MA in Classics from the University of London. He has been involved in Catholic education via seminary, college and high school teaching for 25 years. He has taught in Italy, Spain, Mexico and the United States.
Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas. The school is proud to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report as well as one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide. It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging. It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.
The Gregorian Institute is Benedictine College’s initiative to promote Catholic identity in public life by equipping leaders (the Gregorian speech Digest), training leaders (the Gregorian Fellows), defending the faith (the Memorare Army for Religious Freedom), and celebrating Catholic identity (the Catholic Hall of Fame).