shimer great books


Join the Great Conversation

Oct 04, 2018

The Shimer Great Books School at North Central College is a community of learners who dive deep into the greatest works ever produced. They work together to add their voices to timeless conversations. Let’s take a closer look at what makes up a Shimer class.

The Shimerian lifestyle

Shimer students “shimerians,” love to read and question their own beliefs as well as others’, always looking for new ways to think about an issue. They come to class ready for rich, detailed discussions.

The great book

This class is discussing the Qur’an, the foundational text of the Muslim religion, in order to find what insights they can draw from the 1,400-year-old book that still informs lives today.



Great Books meets 21st Century

Not every “great book” in the Shimer curriculum is actually a book. Discussions can also focus on movies, songs, symphonies and other compositions. A Shimer student is always ready to put on their headphones and closely examine one of these works.

A roundtable discussion

Shimer students and professors talk through their texts around an eight-sided table, designed for open discussions within a small group. “We sit in a circle to foster a sense of equality among all participants, and we all know each other by name and know the kinds of concerns and interests we each tend to bring into the discussion,” said Adam Kotsko, visiting assistant professor in the Shimer School.

roundtable discussion


The facilitator

Shimer faculty like Kotsko (pictured left below) ask big questions to spark discussions rather than lecture at a dry erase board. They aim to learn as much as they teach, knowing that with every discussion of a great piece, new insights follow.

student discussion


Water, coffee, protein drink

Fueling up for the day is important prior to class discussions, which usually carry on afterwards at the lounge in Seybert Hall. Thankfully, North Central’s dining services, such as the Boilerhouse Café, Au Bon Pain and The Cage, are right in the heart of campus to provide any drinks and snacks students need!

shimer students