Press Release

St. John’s College Hosts National Academic Conference, “What Is Liberal Education For?”

College’s first ever national conference to be held October 16-18, 2014, at the Santa Fe, NM campus, features world-renowned academic speakers
and hundreds more in attendance

(Santa Fe, New Mexico) St. John’s College, a renowned private liberal arts institution, announces its first large-scale, national academic conference in honor of the 50th anniversary of the College’s Santa Fe campus. Virtually unprecedented in the world of academia, St. John’s will bring together a diverse group of over 70 nationally and internationally known speakers – classicists, feminists, multiculturalists, traditionalists, thinkers on the left and right – to engage in genuine debate, in keeping with the St. John’s conversational ideal. The conference entitled “What is Liberal Education For?” will examine the current state of liberal arts education, its challenges and opportunities in a globally interconnected world.  The “What is Liberal Education For?” conference takes place on the Santa Fe, NM campus of St. John’s College on October 16-18, 2014. 

“The conference, like the other 50th anniversary events planned by St. John’s College, is an important sign that the St. John’s College model of education—its focus on great books—remains relevant today,” said J. Walter Sterling, Dean of St. John’s College. “Liberal education addresses the inextinguishable longings of the human soul. As a college we feel strongly about the benefits of this kind of education and look forward to an open dialogue with our distinguished speakers.”

Featured speakers include:
Eva Brann, St. John’s College, “Immediacy”
Matthew Crawford, University of Virginia, “Attention as a Cultural Problem”
Andrew Delbanco, Columbia University, “Does Liberal Education Have a Future?”
Wendy Lesser, Critic and Author, “Good Books and Bad Books: Developing One’s Reading Taste” 
Lorraine Pangle, University of Texas, Austin, “A Well-formed Mind: Aristotle and the Intellectual Virtues”
Peter Pesic, St. John’s College, “A Seminar with a Scalpel”
Christopher Ricks, Boston University, “T.S. Eliot’s Humanism”
Roger Scruton, Oxford University, ” Architecture and Aesthetic Education”
Gan Yang, Sun Yat-sen University, “The Emergence of Liberal Education and Classical Studies in China”

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of its Santa Fe campus, St. John’s College has included notable anniversary events and programming in addition to the liberal arts conference. These include: Rational Animal, a digital magazine produced by St. John’s now available on iTunes and Google Play; the 50th Anniversary Oral History Project documenting the Santa Fe campus to be unveiled in 2015; and noted New York Times OP-ED Columnist and author David Brooks, the featured speaker at the College’s anniversary closing event on Friday, June 26, 2015.

The “What is Liberal Education For?” conference will be held on the Santa Fe, NM campus of St. John’s College from October 16-18, 2014. The conference fee is $100.00, $50.00 for graduate students, and includes one dinner, two lunches and refreshments. After September 15, 2014, the late registration fee is $150.00.  A walk-in registration fee of $20 is available for local (NM) residents who wish to sit in on talks. For more information on the conference including the complete conference schedule, travel to Santa Fe, where to stay, or to register, please visit or contact Paul Cooley in the Dean’s Office at

Conference registration form available here:


About St. John’s College: St. John’s College is a private liberal arts college with campuses in Annapolis, MD and Santa Fe, NM. At St. John’s, students engage directly with the original sources of the ideas that have shaped our world. The collaborative study of seminal works of literature, philosophy, politics, mathematics, science, and music distinguishes the liberal arts at St. John’s. Small classes foster thoughtful and spirited discussions that enable students to wrestle with complex problems and to develop penetrating insights. Students learn to reason carefully, think boldly, and lead perceptively, as they cultivate the excellence of intellect and imagination for which St. John’s graduates are known. In 2014-2015, the college celebrates the founding of the Santa Fe campus. To learn more about St. John’s and the 50th anniversary celebration of the Santa Fe campus, please visit

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