Harrison Middleton University’s curriculum is structured to be meaningful for intellectual and personal development. We have learned that the best avenue to achieve these goals is a carefully designed program of study that uses primary source material organized by author, ideas, topics, subtopics, and general studies. Primary sources are drawn from a wide range of possibilities, including the Great Books of the Western World, Oxford University Press, Penguin Classics, and W.W. Norton & Company.

Ideas, Topics, and Subtopics

Studying particular ideas, topics, and subtopics in depth is not only the best way for a student to develop a sophisticated knowledge of the subject matter, but also the best way to become conversant with the systems of analysis common to other academic disciplines and areas of inquiry. Students look back in history to find the most enlightening ideas, topics, and subtopics that interest them, and, with the guidance of an Instructional Team, design a program of study that will incorporate those ideas into an education that will yield a lifetime of benefit.

The Great Conversation: The Cornerstone Course

All students are required to take The Great Conversation: The Cornerstone Course. Here, focusing on skills that are necessary for success at Harrison Middleton University, students gain a better understanding of the degree program and the concept of self-directed learning. Students learn how to approach ancient and modern classics, and they explore the resources needed to create an individualized program of study. Students also learn to write questions and identify passages for textual analysis, a process that’s essential for close reading and for evaluating the quality of the learning experience during inquiry-based discussions with Tutors. At the completion of The Great Conversation: The Cornerstone Course, with the aid of an Instructional Team, students carefully design a program of study toward their chosen degree.

Inquiry-Based Discussion

At Harrison Middleton University, the heart of the curriculum is discussion. Discussion creates the most active of learning environments. Students and Tutors (the teaching members of the university) participate in focused, in-depth discussions of the selections, ideas, topics, and subtopics outlined in an approved degree program. Students and Tutors alike prepare for the discussions by bringing their own thought-provoking, interpretive questions. What ensues is a lively, demanding conversation that begins with a single question and moves toward increasingly complex questions. With each interpretive question, opinion falls away, knowledge surfaces, and answers emerge. In this way, students and tutors join together to promote thoughtful inquiry and a productive exchange of ideas in order to reach a deeper, more informed understanding of classic texts.

Writing Assignments

Writing is a natural extension of the interpretive process and enables students to synthesize, evaluate, and apply knowledge they have acquired. Writing assignments allow students to reflect on the discussions and provide an opportunity to articulate points of view with greater precision.

"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."
~ Aristotle