There is nothing more central to our life as a Lutheran community of higher education than to be concerned with the external word, as it is read on the page, heard from the chapel pulpit, and contemplated in conversation and writing. The Great Texts Pathway embraces the tradition of education that began in ancient Greece with Socrates, was used by centuries of educators in the ancient and medieval church, was taken up by the Lutheran reformers in Wittenberg, and has been handed down to us by the Saxon immigrants who landed in Perry County, Missouri. That tradition of education puts texts and conversation first, and lets Holy Scripture be the first of all texts. This Pathway therefore reflects not only our identity and mission as a Lutheran university, but also our spiritual and academic heritage.

The Great Texts Pathway through the curriculum is intended to form the soul and spirit of our students by giving attention to the meaning of seminal and central texts (including great works of art, music, and foundational scientific demonstrations and texts) that have been handed down to us. The philosophy of this Pathway is centered around knowledge not as mere data or information, but knowledge as understanding. Students who take these Great Texts Pathway courses will be formed by texts rather than by lecture. This more democratic form of education will allow students to be formed by their own careful study, reflection, and conversation, with the professor acting as a guide or tutor. A text-based education is inherently interdisciplinary, because the great texts that are studied are so often interdisciplinary, and deal with all facets of divine and human knowledge.

Academic Recognition

This emphasis is for undergraduate students. This is not a proposal for a new degree or minor, but for an undergraduate pathway that will culminate in a Great Texts designation on the student transcript. Those meeting the expectations of this pathway will also receive a certificate.

Is the Pathway for You?

While the Great Texts Pathway will interest students with prior classical education, this is something that will benefit students from a wide variety of interests and preparation. The approach of these classes is conducive to nurturing critical thinking, the capacity for careful reading of a text, as well as strong oral and written communication skills.

An Ancient Teaching Method

The courses will be taught by professors who are themselves exceptionally committed to, and articulate in, the Socratic method. But what is the Socratic method? The Socratic method consists of a dialogue between professor and students. The questions of professor and students guide the discussion and the learning. In this model, the students are very active participants in the learning process, even directing the interaction in class by their own questions and responses. Such an approach enables students to take more ownership of their own intellectual formation, but students also learn to interact with the insights of those further along in their education as well as with the comments of their peers.

The goal of this type of education is not simply the acquisition of data per se, but rather a deeper and more nuanced understanding of texts and topics than can be conveyed by exclusively lecture-based courses; the outcome of this style of education is not reducible to data points collected from multiple-choice exams.

The philosophy of this approach is that “not many, but much.” Students will gain a deeper knowledge of select texts through direct contact with them, rather than a more superficial familiarity with many texts indirectly through secondary sources. The Socratic method aims to train lifelong, self-motivated learners who can read well and subsequently speak well and write well about what they have read. Oral and written work will be a primary means of student assessment.

Qualifying Classes

Students must complete 21 credits in courses designated as part of the Great Texts Pathway in order to earn a Great Texts Pathway certificate and transcript designation, awarded upon degree completion. New Great Texts Pathway course sections will be added over time, but the following offering provide an initial pool of options for students. Note that not every section of all courses is a Great Text course. Be sure to select the appropriate instructor when necessary.

  • CCE 140 Science and Humanity (Professors Migan and Looker)
  • CCE 130 Christian Citizen (Professor Schulz)
  • ENG 315 Contemporary Mosaic
  • ENG 341 American Literature I
  • ENG 342 American Literature II
  • ENG 344 English Literature I
  • ENG 345 English Literature II
  • ENG 347 World Literature I
  • ENG 348 World Literature II
  • ENG 386 Special Topics in Literature
  • ENG 465 Shakespeare
  • REL 333 A Survey of Christian Thought, Professor Schulz
  • REL 404 Lutheran Confessions, Professor Hopkins

For more information, please contact our CUAA Great Texts coordinator: Professor Charles Schulz, Krieger 111, 734-995.7384.