Life of the mind tour

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From Beethoven to Billie Eilish: The History of Good and Bad Music

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What makes great music? Since ancient times, the world’s great (and not so great) minds have argued strongly for or against different styles of music.

In this course, students will listen to select examples of popular and classical music over a 200 year time period, and read accompanying texts which comment on the prevailing styles of music in different eras. No experience in reading music is required to take this class. All readings will be accessible to those with either a general, or specific knowledge of any kind of music.


Plato: Republic (Book 2-3 Excerpt)

"Music", from The Closing of the American Mind - Alan Bloom

Aristotle: Ethics (Book 2 Excerpt)

Scruton: Music and Morality

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Mr. Benjamin Crocker

Benjamin Crocker is the Director of Special Programs and Associate Director of Admissions at the University of Austin. He is from North Queensland, Australia, and previously taught at The King’s School, and The University of Sydney.

In Australia, Mr. Crocker has conducted the Queensland and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras, and recorded for nationwide radio broadcast at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Mr. Crocker holds a B.Mus. from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, a teaching diploma from the University of Southern Queensland, and an M.A. from St. John’s College, Annapolis.

Hail to the Chief: The American President and Executive Power in War and Peace

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Who has the power to take the United States to war? Congress or the President? By examining the origins of executive power in John Locke’s Second Treatise, the Constitution’s Vesting Clause, the Federalist Papers, Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, and the twentieth century development of the modern presidency, this course will show how the President emerged as the strong commander in both foreign and domestic policy he is today.


Articles 1-3 of the U.S. Constitution

Federalist 51 and 70

“Of the Legislative, Executive, and Federative Power of the Commonwealth,” “Subordination of Powers,” and “Of Prerogative” (chapters 12-14 of John Locke’s Second Treatise)

Lincoln: First Inaugural

Lincoln: Letter to Albert G. Hodges

T. R. Roosevelt: the “Stewardship Theory of the Presidency” (Autobiography selections)

William Howard Taft: Our Chief Magistrate and His Powers

Franklin Roosevelt: First Inaugural

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Dr. Lindsay Eberhardt

Lindsay Eberhardt is a Research Fellow at 27 Rouge. Formerly, she was senior editor at Common Sense Society; managing editor for, The American Mind, and the Claremont Review of Books Digital; and an assistant editor at the Claremont Review of Books.

She has taught politics and political philosophy at the U.S. Naval Academy, George Mason University, and California State University - San Bernadino. Dr. Eberhardt’s writings have been published in The Journal of Woman, Politics, and Policy and Political Research Quarterly. She has a Ph.D. in Political Science and an M.A. in American Government from Claremont Graduate University and a B.A. in political science from the University of Alaska.

Love Poetry of the English Renaissance

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English Renaissance poets such as Sir Philip Sidney, John Donne, and Andrew Marvell use tightly structured lyric poems, rich in ambiguity and elaborate conceits, to explore the relation between the body and the soul, the self and the beloved, and the momentary and the eternal. Is Platonic love possible? Or is love merely a kind of lust?

Through close reading and open discussion of select short poems, students will consider how poetic form and figurative language convey philosophical inquiry. Can romantic love co-exist with narcissism? Mortality? Religious faith? Our human fallibility? What is romantic love, and what does it reveal about human nature?

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Professor Patrick Gray

Professor Patrick Gray is UATX's Dean of the Center for Arts and Letters. Previously, Professor Gray served as Director of Liberal Arts at Durham University, where he was responsible for designing and introducing a new interdisciplinary core curriculum in the humanities.

Before taking up his appointment at Durham, Professor Gray taught comparative literature at Deep Springs College and the United States Military Academy at West Point. Professor Gray is the author of Shakespeare and the Fall of the Roman Republic, editor of Shakespeare and the Ethics of War, and co-editor of Shakespeare and Renaissance Ethics and Shakespeare and Montaigne.

What is Courage? Reading Plato’s Laches

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What is courage, and why is it important? Are courageous people fearless? If not, what do they fear? Does courage involve knowledge? If so, of what? Are there different kinds of courage? Students will explore these questions through a close reading of Plato’s Laches, a short dialogue in which Socrates discusses courage with two well-known generals.

Students will be asked to engage with the following questions: What is a Platonic dialogue, and why did Plato choose to write in this literary form? What can the Laches teach us about the way Socrates understood philosophy? Does Socrates exemplify courage? Does philosophizing require a kind of courage?


Plato: Laches, in Laches and Charmides. Translated by R. Sprague

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Professor Jacob Howland

Professor Jacob Howland is the Dean of the University of Austin’s Intellectual Foundations program, which comprises the first two years of the University’s undergraduate curriculum.

Previously, Professor Howland served as McFarlin Professor of Philosophy at the University of Tulsa and Senior Fellow at the Tikvah Fund. He is the author of five books and one edited book, including two on Plato’s Republic as well as studies of Kierkegaard and the Talmud. Professor Howland’s articles have appeared in The New Criterion, City Journal, and The Nation, among others.

Stories from Borges

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In the mid-20th Century, Argentine writer and poet Jorge Luis Borges brought expansive depth and explosive color to the genre of the short story. Borges’ deliberate use of literary devices calls attention to the unique power of fiction as an expressive medium. Students will read a selection of stories from Borges, and explore how space, time, and the deepest aspects of human existence may be unveiled through literary art.


Borges: The Garden of Forking Paths

Borges: The Lottery in Babylon

Borges: Pierre Manard, Author of the Quixote

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Dr. Pano Kanelos - President, the University of Austin

Panayiotis (Pano) Kanelos is the Founding President of the University of Austin (UATX). He previously served as President of St. John’s College, Annapolis.

During his tenure, St. John’s successfully launched a historic initiative that included the most significant tuition reduction at any American college, accompanied by a $300 million campaign.

Other appointments include Dean of the Honors College at Valparaiso University, associate professor of theater at Loyola University Chicago, associate professor of English at the University of San Diego, and as a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University. He has authored and edited numerous books, articles, and essays on Shakespeare, including the “Shakespeare and the Stage” series.

Chance, Games, & Decisions

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Begin to master probability and good decision-making when faced with uncertainty.  Topics include counting techniques and probability theory, classic chance problems such as the Monty Hall and Birthday Problems, expected value and variance, and basic decision and game theory.

Applications will be stressed through examples. Students will work from computers for the duration of this class. Freely available software for use in sessions will be advised before the commencement of the course.


No reading required in advance of this class.

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Professor David Ruth

Professor David Ruth is the Dean of the University of Austin’s Center for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Previously, Professor Ruth held several leadership positions as a Permanent Military Professor of Mathematics at the United States Naval Academy, where he was an award-winning teacher from 2009 until 2022.

Professor Ruth has authored several articles in a variety of statistics journals, as well as a book chapter on mathematics in cybersecurity. Prior to his academic work, Professor Ruth led and served as a naval officer with operational experience in submarine and surface warfare, nuclear power, oceanography, and meteorology.

Speeches of Lincoln and Churchill

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Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill defined the role of the Statesman in the 19th and 20th Centuries, respectively. In this class, students will read and discuss a selection of Lincoln and Churchill’s greatest speeches.

Commencing with Lincoln’s Address before the Young Men’s Lyceum, and concluding with Churchill’s ‘Finest Hour’ speech, this class will examine national leadership through oratory. Students will compare and contrast the manner in which America’s 16th President, and Great Britain’s 62nd Prime Minister composed their finest works.


Lincoln: Address Before the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield (1838)

Lincoln: Gettysburg Address (1863)

Lincoln: 2nd Inaugural Address (1865)

Churchill: Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat (1940)

Churchill: Arm Yourselves, and Be Ye Men of Valour (1940)

Churchill: This Was Their Finest Hour (1940)

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Dr. Adam Schulman

Adam Schulman has taught the liberal arts at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, for over twenty-five years. Dr. Schulman was educated at the University of Chicago, attended Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, and earned his Ph.D.d in the history of science from Harvard.

His dissertation is entitled “Quantum and Aristotelian Physics.” Between 2003 and 2009 he served on the staff of the President’s Council on Bioethics, under its founding Chairman Leon R. Kass  as well as his successor, Edmund D. Pellegrino.

He is the co-editor of Human Dignity and Bioethics and also Apples of Gold in Pictures of Silver: Honoring the Work of Leon R. Kass. He has lectured on Homer, Sophocles, Xenophon, Aristotle, Francis Bacon, Jane Austen, quantum physics, and the discovery and significance of entropy. He has also served as visiting professor at MIT.

Panel Discussion: How to Think About College

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Benjamin Crocker
Director of Special Programs - the University of Austin

Benjamin Crocker is the Director of Special Programs and Associate Director of Admissions at the University of Austin.

He is from North Queensland, Australia, and previously taught at The King’s School, and The University of Sydney. In Australia, Mr. Crocker has conducted the Queensland and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras, and recorded for nationwide radio broadcast at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.  Mr. Crocker holds a B.Mus. from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, a teaching diploma from the University of Southern Queensland, and an M.A. from St John’s College, Annapolis.

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Jessica Andrews
Communications Director - Senator John Kennedy (R. LA)

Ms. Jessica Andrews is the Communications Director for Senator John Kennedy and served as a senior advisor with his 2022 campaign. She was previously the communications director for the House Judiciary Committee (Republicans) during the Mueller investigation and 2019 impeachment proceedings. Prior to her career on Capitol Hill, Ms. Andrews served at the Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research in the United Arab Emirates. She holds an M.Div. from Southern Seminary as well as a B.B.A. and B.A. from Mercer University.

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Jake Greenspan
CEO – Skolay

Jake Greenspan is co-founder and C.E.O. of Skolay, an N.Y.C.-based tech company which connects writers and readers for one-on-one conversations. He received a Fulbright scholarship in Greece, worked at the Tikvah Fund, and wrote about the aims and limits of liberal learning. He holds an A.B. in fundamentals from the University of Chicago.

Standpoint Epistemology

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Peter Boghossian's Street Epistemology is a revolutionary way of examining—and perhaps even altering—strongly held beliefs. Religion, Morality, Life, Death and the things we hold dear are all up for confrontation, in this unique take on the art of difficult conversation.

details And Requirements


The program is designed for high school juniors, seniors and recent graduates. Therefore, high school students currently in grades 10, 11, 12, or gap year students may apply.

Location & Dates

Los Angeles, CA: December 8-9, 2023

This two-day program runs from 6:30pm - 9:00pm in the evening on Friday, December 8, and from 9:00am - 6:00pm on Saturday, December 9. Each student will take one course for its entirety, plus additional workshops. Students will be notified of their course well in advance of the event, to give ample reading time.

As this is not an overnight program, those from outside the Los Angeles region will be required to make their own arrangements for lodging. UATX cannot provide housing nor help with housing requests. UATX is not responsible for supervising, chaperoning, or otherwise caring for students outside the hours of the program. Programming will conclude promptly each day.

For more information, email

your questions answered

What is the cost to attend?

Thanks to the generous support of our donors, tuition and lunch are free. However, participants are responsible for their travel and lodging expenses as well as the purchase of materials and books. Any additional expenses will be participants’ responsibility. Particpants are expected to bring a laptop or tablet.

Are applicants required to be U.S. citizens?

No. Applicants are not required to be U.S. citizens, but they must be proficient in the English language. At this time, UATX cannot provide assistance with visa applications nor with lodging or housing needs.

What is required to apply?

Applicants must submit each of the following: (1) Unofficial standardized test score record (PSAT/SAT/ACT/CLT), or explanation why none is available; (2) High school transcript with at least 3 semesters of grades; (3) In addition, a permission form from a parent or guardian and a liability waiver are required to matriculate into the program.

Can I receive academic credit, continuing education credits, credit hours, a diploma, or any other measure of completion for participating in this program?

No. Our program is not a credit-bearing or degree program. Students may not earn continuing education credits, credit hours, or a diploma for participation in this program.

Is there a deadline to apply?

Admissions are made on a rolling basis, so early applications are encouraged. Final deadline to apply is November 27, 2023.

Further questions?

Please email

dare to think different

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