Founded in 1696, St. John’s College has a unique history as one of America’s first, and leading, liberal arts institutions. St. John’s (campuses in Annapolis and Santa Fe) explores the great books of Western Civilization through seminar discussions. As Christopher Nelson (President, St. John’s College, Annapolis) has said: “Our books and our program demand more of us than, in truth, we are capable of achieving. It is this stretch in our search for truth, however, that allows us, as a community of learners, tutors helping students, students helping each other, to achieve some measure of greatness.” The Imaginative Conservative is pleased to have published numerous essays written by St. John’s tutors and alumni. We invite you to join us as we explore the story of the College with this video (1954) which shares the unchanging essence of St. John’s.

We want to give our students a classroom in which inciting books are talked about not as mere literature nor as historical documents, but boldly as they meant themselves to be taken: as the Word of God, or the insight of the intellect, or the wisdom of the world. And yet we want these same students to read subtly, not as believers, disciples, and partisans—that may happen privately—but receptively, with that most desirable of human dispositions, an open mind, one which hears appreciatively and responds judgingly, both at once. ~Eva Brann (Tutor at St. John’s since 1957)

Men are men before they are lawyers or physicians or manufacturers; and if you make them capable and sensible men they will make themselves capable and sensible lawyers and physicians. ~John Stuart Mill, Inaugural Address at St. Andrew’s, 1867.

The Imaginative Conservative applies the principle of appreciation to the discussion of culture and politics—we approach dialogue with magnanimity rather than with mere civility. Will you help us remain a refreshing oasis in the increasingly contentious arena of modern discourse? Please consider donating now.

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Published: Apr 20, 2017
W. Winston Elliott III is President of The Free Enterprise Institute, Editor of Imaginative Conservative Books and Editor-in-Chief of The Imaginative Conservative. Mr. Elliott is Visiting Professor of Liberal Arts and Conservative Thought at Houston Baptist University. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Washington College and a Masters of Business Administration, with Honors, from the University of Houston.
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3 replies to this post
  1. I was unable to go to university right after high school. I always wanted to be there and to learn. Over time, I let it ride and fought my way through life and a family, as though feeling my way through a maze in a fog. After h.s. I went to work, then married (we waited ten years before having our first child), then raised two children. That hunger for learning never left me. When my husband and I retired, we moved and I requested to go to school. I spent the next ten years at Jr. College, then University and graduated with a BA in Music. My State paid for my units, I paid the rest. I loved school. I was proven correct, unfortunately. A Liberal Arts education would have been better, but any schooling, any at all, filled a great need in my soul. I know that my life and our family life would have been greatly enhanced had I spent my post high school years in a true, meaningful learning environment.
    My grandson is in High School Honors Class, and bored to tears. I am going to research acceptance to St. John’s. He would be ecstatic there! I’m sending him the video.
    Congratulations, paleoconprodigy! I am so thrilled for you! 🙂

  2. So refreshing to know a sane and logical voice in upper learning exists. Just listened to your President, Mark Roosevelt on a Fox interview with Tucker Carlson and I’m energized that our youth are not being wasted. More, like St John’s is what our country needs and deserves.

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