The purpose of the humanities studies is to introduce the students to the intellectual traditions of the western world and some of the seminal ideas – the great ideas – that have been involved in molding our American culture. We focus on six of these ideas: Truth, Goodness, Beauty, Freedom/Liberty, Equality, and Justice. We have added to this list the idea of Happiness – which we all pursue, but too few of us attain. In the past we have included some other ideas. Prominent among these has been the ideas of virtue and wisdom, but presently we focus upon these two groups of three because of the importance of their roles in our individual and collective daily lives. The goal of these ideas is to encourage our students to live thoughtful lives: to think about the great issues of human life and form opinions on the solid foundation of reason, not emotional appeal or propaganda. We would hope that they learn to examine their own lives at this early age, for we believe that, as Socrates said when he/she stood before the Athenian court that was trying him on charges of impiety and corruption: “… the unexamined life is not livable for a human being…”
By the end of the third summer graduating seniors should be able to demonstrate comprehension of the significance of these ideas and relate them to issues in their social world. One of the ways seniors are encouraged to demonstrate this competence has been for them to present to the community their version of a utopia, or perfect society.
Also, the students are given a reading list that helps them to identify important social issues in an interesting way – through novels and other literature that illustrate them. This reading list is intended as a road map for students’ journey of discovery over their time at GPGC rather than a requirement in any one class. However, many of the classes visit some of these works as a matter of course.
Students are urged to try and produce products for the end of the summer that is worthy of publication in the journal Miles to Go, or in one of the other media available. Along the way, products may be published in the weekly newspaper, The Thinker.