Professor Panayiotis Kanelos, President of St. John’s College Annapolis, will address the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation this evening on the value of a liberal education in the contemporary world.
“Many people think Shakespeare and the great writers, artists, composers and thinkers of Western civilisation are no longer relevant in the modern world. They are wrong,” says Professor Kanelos.
“Modernity encourages us to fashion ourselves and a liberal education – understanding the great works of Western civilisation – helps us to understand what sort of selves we ought to fashion. Shakespeare, for example, still has so much to teach us,” Professor Kanelos said.
“The “liberal” arts have always had at their centre the cultivation of freedom. Yet as conceptions of freedom have shifted over time, so too has the shape of liberal education,” Professor Kanelos said.
“In our hyper-individualized world, the role of liberal education has shifted from liberating human beings to teaching us how to cultivate our liberty responsibly,” Professor Kanelos continued. “So, a liberal education helps students build lives of meaning and purpose and helps society by helping individuals find common ground,” Professor Kanelos said.
Chief Executive of the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation Professor Simon Haines said, “Professor Kanelos has a rich understanding of the value of a liberal arts education and St John’s College, Annapolis, is one the leading liberal arts colleges in the world.”
Professor Kanelos has a distinguished background as an educator and is also an ardent Shakespeare scholar, who has authored and edited numerous books, articles and essays on Shakespeare. He has a Ph.D. from the Committee on Social Thought at University of Chicago, an M.A. in Political Philosophy and Literature from the University Professors Program at Boston University, and a B.A. in English from Northwestern University.
St. John’s College, Annapolis, is one of the oldest colleges in the United States, tracing its origins to King William’s School, a preparatory school founded in 1696, and receiving a collegiate charter from the state of Maryland in 1784. It has run a Great Books curriculum, based on the Western canon, since 1937.
The Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation was created with an endowment from the late Paul Ramsay AO, founder of Ramsay Health Care, to promote a deeper appreciation of Western civilisation through the creation of university degrees, Ramsay Scholarships, summer schools and public lectures.