The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Study of Core Texts and Ideas

Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion.

The aim of the Thomas Jefferson Center is to realize Jefferson's vision of educating citizens and leaders to understand the meaning of liberty and to exercise it wisely. We share Jefferson's conviction that one of the best ways to attain a liberal education--an education suited for a free individual in a free society--is through a serious study of the great books. In our courses, students will engage in a direct, respectful, but probing and critical study of major creative and theoretical works that have shaped human thought and history. They will enter into debates about human nature, ethics, and the meaning of life. They will learn skills of critical reasoning, close reading, and clear, cogent writing. They will join a community of scholars drawn from many departments and many schools of thought, united by a passion for fundamental questions, a spirit of friendly debate, and a willingness to engage in critical self-scrutiny.

We offer for students in all colleges the Certificate in Core Texts and Ideas, which provides an integrated path through UT's core curriculum based on a study of the great books. Outstanding freshmen and sophomores interested in pursuing this program through an integrated learning community may apply for the Jefferson Scholars Program. In collaboration with the Liberal Arts Honors Humanities Program, we offer an interdisciplinary major in the great books. We sponsor post-doctoral fellowships, a lecture series, the Jefferson Center book club, and other symposia for the university and broader community.

Mary Nichols on Leadership in Thucydides


"The Virtue of An Educated Voterby Alan Taylor

"Perhaps Culture is Now the Counterculture: A Defense of the Humanities" by Leon Wieseltier

"The Literary Profession and Civic Culture" by Paul Cantor

Recommended Cultural Events for Jefferson Scholars

Activity Fund

The Jefferson Scholars Program has a student activity fund that scholars may draw upon to attend cultural events such as plays and classical music concerts both on and off campus. To use the student activity fund, you must:

1) select an event and get pre-approval from Assistant Director Erik Dempsey,
2) attend the event in a group comprised of more than one Jefferson Scholar or Junior Fellow, and
3) submit one receipt for the event to the Jefferson Center office in Mr. Dempsey, together with this form. For example, if you go to a play, one person should collect money from the entire group and that person will be reimbursed for all the tickets.

The student activity fund includes $200 that has been set aside for each peer mentor group. Mentors should follow the same procedure in using this fund.

Upcoming Events


April 22, 2017 7:30 PM

McCullough Theatre, Performing Arts Center


April 27, 2017 7:30 PM

Recital Studio, MRH 2.608


April 28, 2017 4:00 PM

Recital Studio, MRH 2.608

Book Club Schedule

Book Shelf

Jefferson Scholars