About Christopher Nelson

Christopher B. Nelson is a Senior Contributor to The Imaginative Conservative. He was the President of St. John's College in Annapolis (1991-2017). St. John's College is devoted to liberal education. Students and faculty engage directly—not through textbooks and lectures but through study and discussion—with original texts and ideas that are the foundation of Western thought.

The World of Imagination in Mathematics

By |2019-08-06T17:32:12-05:00December 26th, 2015|Categories: Christopher B. Nelson, Education, Featured, Mathematics, St. John's College|

Welcome to St. John’s College. To our returning students, faculty and staff, welcome back. To our freshmen and their families, we are very happy to have you joining us. In the next few days, you freshmen will begin working your way through a book that I think, more than any other, serves as an exemplar [...]

An Unexpected Bestseller: Plutarch’s “Lives”

By |2021-05-19T09:27:01-05:00December 3rd, 2015|Categories: Aristotle, Christopher B. Nelson, Featured, Liberal Learning, Plutarch, Rome, St. John's College|

Now that school is back in session, I will shortly be resuming a study group that began last year on Plutarch’s Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans. I thought I might say just two things here about the particular excellence of this great book—that it fuses history and philosophy, and that it promotes the [...]

Liberal Education Makes You Free

By |2021-05-19T11:52:54-05:00November 27th, 2015|Categories: Christopher B. Nelson, Education, Featured, Imagination, Liberal Learning, St. John's College|

The aim of liberal education is to help people become free. It tries to educate people who are free to search out knowledge on their own, people who are not dependent on others to tell them what they need to know, and ultimately, people who are the best judges of their own needs. It tries [...]

Honoring Veterans, Envisioning Peace

By |2021-05-19T11:58:01-05:00November 11th, 2015|Categories: Abraham Lincoln, Christopher B. Nelson, History, St. John's College, Veterans Day, Virtue, War|

War endures. The oldest Babylonian tablets mark battles fought, both defensive and offensive, as does the Epic of Gilgamesh, the west’s oldest complete literary work. And the annals of western history never stop reporting on wars and rumors of wars. Douglas MacArthur once calculated that in 3,400 years of human history, only 239 had been [...]

Can You Buy Your Employees Happiness?

By |2021-05-19T12:37:46-05:00June 16th, 2015|Categories: Christopher B. Nelson, Culture, Featured, Happiness, St. John's College|

Recently there has been a lot of buzz[1] about a young CEO in Seattle who gave raises to all of his employees. Huge raises. In fact, taking a huge cut against his own nearly million-dollar salary, Dan Price of Gravity Payments[2] announced to his staff in April that he would be raising all of their [...]

Five Things to Do When You Get to College

By |2021-05-19T12:51:19-05:00June 10th, 2015|Categories: Christopher B. Nelson, Education, Featured, Happiness, Liberal Learning, St. John's College|

Congratulations to graduates in the Class of 2015. Graduating high-school students often ask me how college will differ from high school. And what I say usually seems to come as a surprise: In college, you should start thinking much more seriously about happiness. “What does college have to do with happiness?” you may be thinking. [...]

Education as a Commodity?

By |2021-05-19T14:13:53-05:00April 23rd, 2015|Categories: Christopher B. Nelson, Education, Featured, Liberal Learning, St. John's College|

After more than a decade of “No Child Left Behind”* (NCLB)—the 2001 Act of Congress that was supposed “to close the achievement gap with accountability, flexibility, and choice”—it has clearly failed. Congress is busily engaged in efforts to reform** the bill, whose reauthorization remains doubtful. In his recent article for Newsweek.com, Paul Thomas writes about [...]

Myths About Attending College Debunked

By |2021-02-09T14:44:54-06:00April 20th, 2015|Categories: Christopher B. Nelson, Education, Featured, Liberal Learning, St. John's College|

College costs are out of control! Middle-class students will be financially ruined by going to college! Only the wealthy can afford a good liberal education! The hype about college costs has generated many myths about higher education, and has driven them deeply into the collective consciousness—where they are wreaking havoc with parents and students trying [...]

Water Water Everywhere: Thirsting for Imagination?

By |2021-05-19T15:19:54-05:00April 13th, 2015|Categories: Christopher B. Nelson, Essential, Featured, Imagination, Liberal Learning, St. John's College|

Convocation speeches do not always come as naturally to me as you might expect of someone who has been delivering them for more than twenty years as a college president. A few years ago, I was having difficulty writing a mid-winter address. Unable to find an anchor for the address, I went to bed wondering [...]

Asking Siri Life’s Questions

By |2021-05-19T15:34:33-05:00April 1st, 2015|Categories: Christopher B. Nelson, Culture, Liberal Arts, Liberal Learning, St. John's College, Technology|

Like many of my generation (Baby Boomers) I am something of a late adopter when it comes to certain technologies. I have owned an iPad for several years now, which I use mainly to receive and send email when I’m on the go. But I was surprised during a family get-together about ten days ago, [...]

Harnessing Moral Truth in Millennials

By |2021-05-19T15:20:18-05:00March 23rd, 2015|Categories: Christopher B. Nelson, Culture, Featured, Morality, St. John's College, Truth|

Who loves employee codes of conduct? Given how sprawling and lawyerly many of them are, who can even read them? If you’re a boss who is thinking of scrapping yours and embracing one that reflects the values embodied in your company’s slogan, like Google’s “Don’t be evil” or Zappos’ “Be humble,” your employees will certainly [...]

Liberal Education and the Production of Fine Wine

By |2019-12-12T13:31:09-06:00March 12th, 2015|Categories: Christopher B. Nelson, Education, Featured, Liberal Learning, St. John's College|

Books and wine and life—all are subjects of deep mystery, deep study, and deep human involvement. And all are subjects deeply implicated in liberal education. The connection between liberal education and the trio of books, wine, and life was apparent this past weekend, as St. John’s College in Annapolis hosted its fifth annual wine-tasting event. [...]

Mark Zuckerberg’s “A Year of Books” Without Any Classics

By |2021-05-20T16:05:04-05:00March 5th, 2015|Categories: Christopher B. Nelson, Classics, Culture, Featured, Liberal Learning, St. John's College|Tags: |

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and founder of Facebook, made an announcement in January that he was launching a book club. He is calling 2015 “A Year of Books,” and he has invited Facebook users to join him in discussions and participate in author Q&As online. “We will read a new book every two weeks and discuss [...]

Leadership with a Touch of Humility

By |2021-05-20T16:12:28-05:00February 26th, 2015|Categories: Christopher B. Nelson, Culture, Featured, Leadership, St. John's College|

It is hard to hear the news about someone like Marilyn Tavenner stepping down and not think about the expectations we put on our leaders. In Tavenner’s case, when she became acting head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in 2011, politicians expected her to know the field of health care inside out. [...]

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