Masterworks Program at Valparaiso University Seeks to Engage, “Bridge” Students and Community

Masterworks-2Class is back in session for the fall season at Valparaiso University, and thanks to the Masterworks Program at Christ College, it’s no longer necessary to be a student at the school to get a feel for a portion of the campus atmosphere.

Adult students are welcome to enroll in the first-year program, which will feature two classes, Masterworks I in the fall and Masterworks II in the spring. The two-semester course fits in line with the model at Christ College, Valparaiso University’s Honors College, which has students enrolled in the college taking all their classes over two semesters.

“The theme tied into all the readings is ‘What is the good life?,“ said Peter Kanelos, Phd, dean at Christ College. “The course will focus on works in the western tradition, with about 3-4 weeks of the class being dedicated to Asian texts. It all looks into what is the best way to live life.”

“The goal is to tie the University to the community,” added Anna Stewart, a faculty member at Christ College who is coordinating the Masterworks program. “It’s a very different perspective to look at questions as an adult.”

Works from the entire spectrum of time, from the ancient world to today, will be discussed during the two-semester program. The first semester will overview classics such as Plato’s Greek Tragedy, Canterbury Tales, William Shakespeare's The Tempist, Niccolò Machiavelli’s “The Prince” and Beowulf, among others written between the ancient world and the Renaissance.

Shakespeare will also be a part of the second semester, with the class expected to pick-up on the great writer with Macbeth as the first reading in Masterworks II. “Perspectives” by Jane Austen and “The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass” are examples of works that will be discussed in the second portion of the program.

“Our tagline is great books, great conversation,” Stewart said. “We will linger over some of these texts with the idea that people in the community will find that they have similar minds to the students enrolled here.”

Kanelos and Stewart stressed that anyone in the community, even those not enrolled at the University or those who are retired or without a college degree are encouraged to apply. The course is good for 1.5 credits, can be used for education license credit and graduate school needs. But Kanelos says most will take the course for “personal enrichment.”

“We will have a good mix of all types of students,” he said, noting that the classes will be kept small, in discussion format (as are all at Christ College) with about 12 students per class. One class is already filled for the fall semester, but another could be added if there is enough interest.

Kanelos said the inspiration for the Masterworks Program at Valparaiso University came from a similar basic program he was involved with while at the University of Chicago.

“I just loved it,” he said. “We had great books geared to adult learners that stimulated interesting discussion. Adult students bring a lot of experience and perspective.”

“We are very interested in opening the doors to the community at-large and want them to engage in the academic life,” he added.

Both Kanelos and Stewart have found that adults who are years removed from an educational setting miss it and often seek chances to enroll in a class discussion such as this.

Stewart said she is “thrilled” to be the instructor for the first Masterworks class.

“I am not a native hoosier, but I’ve lived here for four years and have found the Valpo community to be really engaged,” she said. “I love the conversations I’ve had with people. Since I am typically engaged with 18-year-olds, this program will be a great way to bridge the two worlds together.”

Christ College is nearly 50 years old, and is the third oldest Honors College in the country, according to Kanelos.

To register for the Masterworks Program, visit here.