Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

Joy of learning highlights 7th annual Classics for Classics at StFX

July 14th, 2015

For 63 StFX alumni and friends, the joy of learning took centre stage at the 7th annual Classics for Classics, a popular week of painless study, held on campus this year from July 6-10.

“We invite alumni and others to come back to campus for a week of study, with no exams,” says StFX philosophy professor Dr. Steve Baldner who leads the weeklong learning experience offered by StFX Alumni Affairs. The program is offered at no charge for StFX alumni.
Participants come from points across North America, ranging from early career to retirees. Each year it’s grown, from 30 participants in the inaugural year in 2009 to 63 this year. 
“It’s quite an exciting week for them,” says Dr. Baldner, who this year focused readings and lectures on Nicollò Machiavelli’s The Prince, and Thomas More’s Utopia.
He led morning lectures, while each afternoon guest lecturers, member of StFX faculty, provided talks on related topics.
“They’re two very important works in political thought, both written around the same time in the early 1500s,” Dr. Baldner says on this year’s texts. “They were revolutionary works that changed the way people looked at politics.”
He says the texts invited lively discussion in class, including lots of comparison and comments on contemporary politics.
“They really are interested in ideas. They want a week of intellectual stimulation. They want to learn,” Dr. Baldner says.
“It’s about the joy of learning.”
As well as lectures, participants attended special events including a performance at Festival Antigonish Summer Theatre and a Thursday evening banquet, which included an open discussion on relevant themes. 
This year’s guest lecturers included Dr. Joseph Khoury, “Machiavelli:  A Teacher of Evil?”; Dr. Guy Lalande, “Girolamo Savonarola:  Christian Humanist or God’s Avenging Wrath?”; Dr. Sharon Gregory, “Princes and Power in Renaissance Art”; Dr. Paul Marquis, “Thomas More’s influence on the English literary Renaissance”; and a Friday afternoon debate between Dr. Louis Groarke and Dr. Joseph Khoury:  “Is Machiavelli a Christian Thinker?”
Past authors studied in Classics for Classics have included: Plato, Republic; Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics; Lucretius, On the Nature of Things; Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy; Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae (on human nature); and René Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy.
Dr. Baldner gave thanks to StFX Alumni Affairs for their impeccable job of organizing and all faculty over the years who have taken part.
Next year, Classics for Classics will be held on campus July 4-8, 2016.

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