Great Connections 2015: Apply now

The Great Connections program fosters active minds, empowering each individual with the knowledge, reasoning skills, and independence to understand the world and build a life of adventure and creative achievement.

Do you want to be challenged to think for yourself?

Do you want to gain powerful knowledge and skills that will equip you for college, for success, for life?

Can you connect the abstract ideas propounded in your classrooms with life decisions and world events?

Can you confidently argue for—and act on—your point of view?

At the Great Connections Seminar, you’ll connect with passionate and principled students from the U.S. and abroad to discuss life’s most challenging questions, while enjoying music, dancing, architecture, and art to the fullest.

Join us this July for a unique “total immersion” learning experience: one exciting and challenging week of intensive classes, interactive sessions, off-campus expeditions, and rewarding camaraderie. It just might change your life, as it has for previous students.

A preview of the Great Connections Seminar experience

Through this seminar, you will:

  • Discover why philosophy is crucial to your survival and flourishing, and find the important meaning and implications for yourself in seemingly simple issues.
  • Increase your ability to ask questions that will change what you get from—and how you perform in—your classes.
  • Become an “ideological detective” by training your mind to find the assumptions behind any set of ideas and judge their objective truth.
  • Develop the ability to present facts, ideas, and arguments to others with clarity and confidence while learning important ideas about philosophy, politics, economics, history, science and more.
  • Confront riveting questions about such issues as the source of authentic happiness, how to withstand social pressure, and what is the relation of reason and emotion.
  • Learn the principles and practices of introspection and use them to increase your self-understanding and autonomy.
  • Examine art’s power to change the culture. Explore the application of the concept of objectivity to architecture, sculpture, and painting, and decide whether something can be judged a work of art—or not.
  • Apply objectivity to architecture, sculpture, and painting, and decide whether something can be judged a work of art—or not.

Connect timeless principles to today’s hottest issues

At the seminar we’ll show you how to understand and enjoy challenging works that have changed the world. Discussions of Plato, the Port-Royal Logic, Niccolò Machiavelli, Montesquieu, James Madison, Ayn Rand, and other great thinkers, will help you discover the often-hidden connections between classic principles and contemporary controversies.

For example:

  • Discover how the question of “what is knowledge,” examined by Socrates in Plato’s Meno dialogue, affects everything you think.
  • Consider the issues of terrorism and national security through Montesquieu’s examination of the separation of powers.
  • Learn how to increase your own personal power and self-control through introspection skills.

Benefit from individual attention

Instructors won’t force-feed you pre-fabricated notions. Rather, our talented  faculty will teach you one of the most important  lessons of all: how to grasp the meaning of events and  ideas for yourself.

Each discussion group in the seminar has a maximum of 15 students.

Why? One of our priorities is constant interaction between instructors and students. Participants will work individually and “hands-on” with superb teachers and mentors who will coach them one-on-one in achieving their goals.  Instructors won’t simply deliver a lecture and depart but will be available for face-to-face discussions both in and out of class.

Free yourself and take charge

You will experience a culture in our seminar like no other; one which encourages and respects your individuality, ideas, and independence, and which will energize you while you free yourself to take charge of your own education and your life.

Think hard, work hard, play hard

Our program includes informative seminars and mind- expanding presentations, plus adventurous off-campus expeditions that connect classroom theory to the real world. We will draw upon Chicago’s rich intellectual, architectural, cultural, and commercial resources, capitalize upon classic films,  music, and works of art.

We’ll journey to famous museums, research facilities, business clubs, restaurants, retail stores and beyond, such as:

  • Grant Park, Chicago
  • Lake Michigan Oak Street Beach
  • The Chicago Stock Exchange

Experience the excitement of one of the most beautiful and vibrant cities in North America, Chicago. You’ll attend classes in the fully equipped conference center and apartments, Thomas Beckham Hall, one of the residences of the University of Illinois at Chicago. You’ll be just steps their great recreational complex, and a short bus ride to Millennium Park, the Art Institute, the Chicago Board of Trade, and the beautiful beaches of Lake Michigan.


Start date and time: 3:00PM Saturday, July 25th
End date and time: Ends at midnight on Saturday August 1st.

You will check out of your dorm on Sunday morning, August 2nd and have the rest of the day to enjoy the city.

Location: Thomas Beckham Hall, The University of Illinois at Chicago, 1250 S. Halsted, Chicago, Illinois

Capsule schedule: Participants will attend seminars in the mornings, go on excursions in the afternoons, and engage in extended discussions in the evenings. 

Saturday afternoon/evening: An orientation and initial Socratic Seminar. 

Sunday to Saturday
: Socratic Seminars, special presentations, excursions, meetings with professionals, extended breaks to eat and explore on your own; 

Saturday evening: A closing dinner and party; 

Sunday morning: The day is free to explore the city or return home, at your option.

The full schedule will be published in the near future.

Readings: We will email links for most of the texts so that you can read them in preparation for the seminar. On the opening Saturday afternoon, you will receive a specially printed book with all the readings to use during the seminar. We will also provide advance copies of the reading via email, and highly recommend you read all selections before you arrive.

Accommodations and Meals: You will reside in the contemporary, air-conditioned apartments of our conference building, Thomas Beckham Hall, 1250 S. Halsted. You will have one bedroom in a 2-bedroom apartment with a fully equipped kitchen. You can sign up to use the University of Illinois at Chicago recreational facility. We will provide the opening and closing dinners. A Whole Foods Market and a Jewel Supermarket are 5 minutes walking from the Hall and there are many food stores, eateries and cafes nearby offering everything from hamburgers and hot dogs to Thai food and sushi. There’s also have a cafeteria within walking distance. Students often eat together and are encouraged to make meals together in their apartments.

Transportation: Downtown Chicago is easily reached from O’Hare and Midway airports via CTA train or airport shuttle, as well as by bus, train, and car. Links to maps, information about what to bring, and details about Chicago will be sent to you after you register.

Fee: Full tuition to the program is $1,200, which includes the opening and closing dinners, and books. Room in an equipped apartment, with use of conference and entertainment facilities, is an additional $800. The Great Connections offers a number of scholarships to cover all or partial costs. Don’t hesitate to inquire about these, no matter what city or country you will be traveling from.

Meet your Great Connections instructors


B.A. Biology, M.A., Psychology
President, The Reason, Individualism, Freedom Institute, the Foundation for the College of the United States

Ms. Enright brings a remarkable range of knowledge and analytical ability in both the sciences and the humanities to her role as the seminar’s lead instructor. She will guide students in class discussions throughout the week, as well as lead informative tours. Ms. Enright has extensive teaching experience with adults and adolescents in schools, conferences, and summer camps. She also writes on topics ranging from economics to aesthetics, human development to neuropsychology.

In 1990, Ms. Enright founded Council Oak Montessori School for children ages 3-15. Chicago Magazine named it one of the top private schools in the city in 2006 and 2011.


B.A., Liberal Arts from St. John’s College, Santa Fe, M.Ed. Montessori Education, Endicott College. 

Andrew Humphries is a co-facilitator with Marsha Enright of the Great Connections Seminars. Currently a graduate research assistant and Ph.D student at George Mason University, he is an expert facilitator of the shared-inquiry dialogue used in Great Connections Seminars. He previously taught at Michael Polanyi College (MPC) at Universidad Francisco Marroquin, Guatemala. Before joining MPC, Andrew was an Academy Program Associate at Centre for Civil Society, a public policy think tank in New Delhi, where he facilitated short courses in political economy for college students.

He has taught in private Montessori and charter schools in the United. Political philosophy, the history and philosophy of math and science, and the “Austrian School” tradition of social science are also his special areas of concentration.


C.P.A., J.D., Real Return Group, Chicago Stock Exchange.

Starting his career with Goldman Sachs in 1959, Mr. Curran has a long and  colorful career as a market maker at the Chicago Board Options Exchange and the Chicago Stock Exchange among many other roles.

He was a board member of the Free Market Society of Chicago, and is a founding board member of The Reason, Individualism, Freedom Institute


President, United Computer Group, Independence, Ohio.

In June 1987, at 26 years old and married with a six-month old, Jim Kandrac founded United Computer Group, Inc. (UCG). UCG is now an IBM Advanced Business Partner specializing in mid-market and enterprise clients. UCG has been rated in the top 1% of IBM Business Partners nationwide. UCG’s VAULT400 BaaS is a premier managed risk mitigation and business continuity planning service for secure online backup and disaster recovery.

Mr. Kandrac has mentored Brecksville, Ohio high school students for many years through the School of Entrepreneurial Engagement of Northeast Ohio.

The Great Connections program fosters active minds, empowering each individual with the knowledge, reasoning skills, and independence to understand the world and build a life of adventure and creative achievement.

The Reason, Individualism, Freedom Institute
9400 S. Damen AvenueChicago, IL 60643

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