How It Works


“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”

Whether in Toronto, Siena, or Paris, our days are made up of a combination of

  • animated discussion in small seminars guided by a skilled leader,
  • a broad array of cultural and recreational activities, and
  • ample opportunity to read, reflect, and linger over a good meal and conversation.

Because Classical Pursuits operates in the “slow zone,” camaraderie develops easily and lasting friendships form. And you get to explore someplace new – even if it is your own hometown.

Visit our Programs section for detailed information about our Toronto Pursuits and Travel Pursuits programs.

Shared Inquiry
The heart of Classical Pursuits is small, skillfully led discussions. The Great Books Foundation calls this method of discussion “shared inquiry,” and through it participants help one another search for answers to the fundamental questions raised by a text. Participants bring their unique ways of viewing the selection and then build on their views as they share ideas. A shared inquiry discussion is also defined by the skill with which participants listen to one another.

Discussion leaders occasionally provide substantive commentary or background information to advance the discussion, but they mainly give direction and guidance by asking questions of interpretation that can be answered in different ways. The works we examine are great, in part, precisely because they continue to afford multiple conflicting and ambiguous meanings. Our goal is not to reach consensus on a single “correct” understanding but to assist participants to dig deeper than they could on their own in order to come away with their own interpretation and meaning.

Our discussion leaders all have mastery of their subject, but are selected above all for their ability to guide a shared inquiry discussion. Our leaders do not “profess” the meaning of a book, painting, or opera. Their principal role is to help participants grapple with the questions and ideas raised by a work and discover for themselves its deeper meanings. On Travel Pursuits trips there are two additional kinds of leaders: walking guides and speakers. These functions may be filled by one or several individuals.

The only prerequisites are to READ BEFORE YOU ARRIVE and come with an open mind.

You can earn both professional and academic continuing education credits through the Harrison Middleton University by participating in Classical Pursuits programs. See Partnerships for more information.