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The summer months can leave students missing the academic environment they experience on campus. At Christendom, students regularly engage in lively intellectual discussions, whether it be in the classroom or at lunch. Knowing how important such discussions are to students, philosophy professor Mike Brown and political science and economics professor Dr. Joseph Brutto have taken the initiative to host virtual reading groups, allowing students to communally pursue intellectual interests even during the summer.

Brown, who is also responsible for multiple academic events for students during the regular academic year, developed the idea to host virtual reading groups while teaching online this spring due to the coronavirus.

“I love reading and discussing philosophy and it came to me while doing online instruction this past semester that it would be possible to continue reading and discussing philosophy with interested students through the summer,” shared Brown.

Once Brown advertised the reading groups, there was an outpouring of interest. While Brown only anticipated forming two or three groups, eleven reading groups were ultimately established.

Each group has approximately 5-12 members, with alumni, staff, and friends of the college also joining in the groups, bringing fresh perspectives to the discussions.

Meeting once a week, the reading groups discuss a wide variety of subjects. Brown leads philosophical discussions, with topics ranging from the virtues, to St. Augustine’s thoughts on time, to Descartes’ influence on the modern mind. Brutto, who teaches political science, has been leading discussions about Alexis de Tocqueville’s book Democracy in America, patriotism, and Christianity in America.

For participants, these groups have been a much-appreciated intellectual outlet.

“I was greatly missing the dynamic and engaging conversations I had on campus and became extremely excited when Mr. Brown offered the reading groups,” shared rising sophomore Gwyneth Sawicki. “My group is discussing Thomas Aquinas’s thought on emotions, with a focus on the emotion of love. The conversations Professor Brown leads are not only strengthening the skills I gained last school year but are also very engaging and pertinent to what is occurring in our society.”

For many students, delving deeply into moral, philosophical, political, and theological topics alongside their peers characterizes their academic experience, bringing the topics studied in the classroom to life.

The success of these reading groups bear testament to the commitment of Christendom’s faculty to the intellectual development of their students, as well as the enthusiasm Christendom students display for the pursuit of truth and wisdom.

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