Study Abroad in Italy with VIU and Ryerson

What is the best way for a human being to live? What activities will make us flourish? What is justice? What is beauty? What is our ultimate responsibility to the society we live in? About 2500 years ago Socrates posed these questions to respected members of his city and to the Greek culture that he lived in. Since then these and other questions about knowledge, about the world and ultimate reality, about art, about why we exist and what we should be doing, have been asked by philosophers, novelists, poets, artists, and scientists who have given us lasting works in the Western European tradition of thought.  This tradition has given many differing responses throughout the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Enlightenment eras and through to the 21st century.

How we ask many fundamental questions and how we begin to answer them has been shaped by that diverse tradition to a very great degree and we must engage with that tradition in order to know ourselves. And yet we must re-examine and test these questions and contending answers to those questions if we are to be serious and free individuals.  Through reading some of the most enduring original texts from various areas of thought, or 'disciplines', and by thinking about works of art from the history of Western culture, we seek in Liberal Studies to gain deeper understanding of who we are and how our values and perspectives have been shaped by certain cultural legacies; in the process we hope to continue to ask the fundamental questions in dialogue with that tradition from our standpoint in the contemporary world. We do so primarily through seminars or small-group discussions between students and a professor. We supplement these seminars with lectures, hands-on exercises in art and science, and the option of study-abroad courses to Europe and elsewhere. The emphasis is on generic skills so highly-prized in today's workplace: the abilities to communicate clearly, solve problems through critical thinking, adapt creatively to new challenges and embrace life-long learning.

We seek to know ourselves through a conversation with the past and the present and with each other. Come join the conversation!

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