This program provides students with an opportunity to take part in a conversation with some of the best thinkers of all time. The study of great works in philosophy, politics, literature, sciences, religion, and the fine arts encourages critical thinking that aims at truth. Such study confronts what it means to be human and thus immeasurably enhances a person’s daily life.
Please see the UNLV College of Liberal Arts Great Works web page at https://www.unlv.edu/liberalarts/gwac for information about the program. Degree worksheets are available at Minor in Great Works | Academics | University of Nevada, Las Vegas (unlv.edu).
Advising is provided by the Great Works Faculty Committee and the Wilson Advising Center.
1. To improve students’ ability to read and analyze carefully.
The challenge of great works summons careful attention and thoughtful critique because such works are impossible to categorize easily. Students will leave the program as better thinkers in all aspects of their lives.
2. To promote students’ facility with the written word.
Most classes within the program have a writing component that involves the development of good skills in research and analysis. In addition, exposure to excellent writing and thought helps promote better writing. Careful reading is a prerequisite of good writing.
3. To engage students in a conversation on fundamental questions of human life.
Works on the list for the program treat questions of what it means to be human, such as: What is the structure of the universe? What is human nature? What is love? What is justice, and what does it require of us? Even if students do not find answers to those questions and learn only how to ask the questions more cogently, they will have accomplished a great deal.
4. To increase students’ appreciation of freedom.
When students begin college, they notice how much less time they spend in class than they did in high school. Students need to ask whether that free time makes them more free. In studying great works, they have the opportunity to reflect on what freedom means and on how they may best use their freedom.
5. To enrich students’ university experience and encourage lifelong learning.
A lecture series and the Great Works Book Club encourage integration of students’ academic and social activities. Reading primary texts allows students to experience more continuity across subjects. This experience encourages a lifelong curiosity — an eagerness and an ability to continue learning independently after college.
6. To provide students with a superior background for graduate school.
Graduate programs want students who are familiar with key primary texts in areas such as philosophy, literature, and the sciences. Those texts are the foundation of all disciplines in the liberal arts.
7. To prepare students better for today’s careers.
Specific skills learned in college often become less useful within several years of graduation, and people may change jobs or professions several times in the course of their lives. The program will help students develop an intellectual strength that will allow them to maintain a variety of jobs more successfully.
The minor is open to undergraduates from any college. Approval of the director of the Great Works program and the dean of the College of Liberal Arts is required. Students should notify the director of their interest in the minor as soon as possible in their college career.
There is a growing acknowledgment among employers in business and the professions that an education focused on great books develops lifelong learners and future leaders. This program also gives students who want to pursue graduate education early experience in grappling with original works of theory and literature such as they will inevitably encounter in graduate school.