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

Welcome Class of 2025!


A Message from the Directors

Welcome to the Jefferson Scholars Program! Our program is just a few years old, but what it contains is something that has provoked, challenged, and inspired many generations of young men and women seeking a liberal education: a first-hand, rigorous encounter with the great books that helped to make our world what it is, and that can equip you to face new challenges well.

The Jefferson Scholars Program will educate you as leaders and as citizens, but first of all, as human beings. Prepare to be startled, puzzled, and disturbed. Prepare to question what you think you know, but, also perhaps, to discover in your own minds the first stirrings of wisdom about things you may have thought no one could know. Prepare to listen, to take risks, and to enter into debates with your classmates, your professors, your books, and, not least of all, with yourselves.

There is a great deal of talk these days about the economic value of an education. You have perhaps also heard that UT Austin is a great party school. Learning how to think is always useful, and college should certainly be fun. But most of all, college should be a time to enjoy a precious kind of freedom, rare in human history, rare even or especially in modern day America, with all of our incredible busy-ness and networking and multi-tasking and start-ups and connectivity—and that is the freedom of true leisure. The ancient Greeks asked themselves what was most worthwhile in life, after we set aside the work we must do out of necessity and the play we need in order to relax from work, and their answer was: serious leisure, at the heart of which they put the pursuit of learning.


You will soon be arriving on the campus of a great university, a place where you can follow your curiosity about almost anything in the world, study it at the highest level, and discuss it with like-minded students. You have probably never been so free as you soon will find yourselves. Once all life’s responsibilities begin to crowd in on you after graduation, you may never be so free again. Make the most of it!

Our best,

Lorraine Pangle                                            Thomas Pangle                                                           

Professor of Government                               Joe R. Long Chair in Democratic Studies

Co-director, Thomas Jefferson Center             Co-director, Thomas Jefferson Center



Jefferson Scholars Fall Activities and Events


Jefferson Scholars Program Fall Opening Lecture

“The Meaning of Liberal Education”

Thomas Pangle, Joe R. Long Chair in Democratic Studies, Department of Government

Monday, August 23, 5 pm, location TBA

Thursday Lunch Seminar Series

Throughout the year we will have professors give short, informal talks over sandwiches and cookies on topics related to your coursework in the program. These will all be on Thursdays from 12:30 to 2, so please keep that time free in your schedule if possible.

Peer Mentors

As part of our effort to create a small-college learning experience within the large university that is UT, we would like to encourage all JSP freshmen to take advantage of the opportunity to be paired with a peer mentor. Mentors are current Jefferson Scholars who will have a fund that they can draw on to take you to lunch, coffee, recreational events like hikes, Frisbee, and bowling, and cultural events on and off campus. You can choose your own mentor by visiting our peer mentor page at, or request a mentor by emailing us at

Jefferson Book Club

The Jefferson Book Club meets approximately every 3 weeks for an informal discussion of a classic movie or a short work or selection from a great book. This fall the meetings will be held on Mondays at 5 pm.




Overview of JSP Coursework


The Jefferson Scholars Program consists of six related courses that can be taken in your first three semesters or spread out over as many semesters as necessary to accommodate the needs of your major and other programs. Through these courses you will become acquainted with ancient Greek philosophy and literature, the Bible and its various interpreters, the history of political philosophy, the founding principles of the United States and their subsequent development, and other great books of the Western and Eastern traditions. You may use these courses to satisfy the following UT core requirements: Signature Course, Social Science, Visual and Performing Arts, US History, and US Government, as well as the following flags: Writing, Global Cultures, Ethics and Leadership, and Cultural Diversity. When you complete the six courses you will earn the Certificate in Core Texts and Ideas.


Here is an overview of the program, with courses available to first-semester Jefferson Scholars in boldface.  


Area 1: Philosophy and Literature of the Ancient World

UGS 302 Classical Philosophy and Literature (Signature Course) or

UGS 303 The Challenge of the Greeks (Signature Course), or

CTI 301G Introduction to Ancient Greece (satisfies UT Visual and Performing Arts requirement, carries the UT Global Cultures flag)

These UGS courses and our small sections of CTI 301G are available only in the fall, and are reserved mainly for freshman Jefferson Scholars.


Area 2: Major Texts of World Religions

CTI 304 The Bible and Its Interpreters (carries UT Writing and Global Cultures flags)

Sections of this course are available for Jefferson Scholars every semester, and seats will be reserved for freshman Jefferson Scholars in spring 2022.


Area 3: History of Political Philosophy

CTI 302 Classics of Social and Political Thought (meets UT Social Science Requirement)

Sections of this course are available for Jefferson Scholars every semester, and seats will be reserved for freshman Jefferson Scholars in spring 2022.


Area 4: America’s Constitutional Principles

GOV 312P America's Constitutional Principles (satisfies one of UT’s 2-course US Government requirement; carries UT Ethics and Cultural Diversity flags)

Sections of this course are available for Jefferson Scholars every semester, and seats are reserved for freshmen Jefferson Scholars for fall 2021.


For a complete listing of courses that meet the four CTI requirements, see our Certificate Plan.


Core Texts and Ideas Electives (2 courses)

Any CTI course may be used as a CTI elective, in addition to the courses listed on our Qualifying Course List. Especially recommended is CTI 350 Masterworks of World Drama (satisfies UT Visual and Performing Arts Requirement).




Fall 2021 Freshman Registration Information


Congratulations on being accepted into the Jefferson Scholars Program, and welcome to the University of Texas at Austin. We are very glad that you are here.

Here is the information you’ll need on registering for fall JSP courses when you come for orientation. Please show this to your academic advisor as you are selecting courses.

The freshman program for Jefferson Scholars includes one or two fall courses, one on the ancient Greeks and a second on the American constitutional tradition. These courses are designed to complement one another, exploring the theme of “liberty, ancient and modern,” and the place of reason in guiding human life. Since they address common themes from different perspectives, you are encouraged to take both courses if you have room in your schedule.

All Jefferson Scholars should begin with a course on Ancient Greece. Unless you are in a special program that requires its own Signature (UGS) Course, you should choose one of the following, which are reserved for you:

UGS 303 The Challenge of the Greeks

Unique                       Time                           Location                     Professor

63805               MW 1pm-2pm                         MEZ 1.306                  Stauffer

                              F Noon-1pm                     MAI 220E


63810               MW 1pm-2pm                         MEZ 1.306                  Stauffer

                              F 1pm-2pm                       MAI 220E


63815               MW 1pm-2pm                         MEZ 1.306                  Stauffer

                               F 2pm-3pm                      MAI 220E            


If you are in a special program that requires its own Signature (UGS) Course, you should register for one of the following small sections of our other introductory course, which are also reserved for you:


CTI 301G Introduction to Ancient Greece                                              

Unique                       Time                           Location                     Professor

30155               MWF 9am- 10am                     RLP 1.102                   Pangle, L                    

30165               MWF 2pm-3pm                       MEZ 1.202                  Pangle, L


If you cannot fit any of the above into your schedule, you may take an open seat in the large lecture section of the same course, CC 301 unique 34380:


                        MWF 1pm-2pm                       FAC 21                        Gulizio


If your schedule permits a second JSP course, please enroll in the following, all sections of which have seats reserved for you:


GOV 312P Constitutional Principles: Core Texts

Unique                       Time                           Location                     Professor

38865               MWF 9am-10am                      GAR 0.128                  Brennan

38870               TTH 930am-11am                   MEZ 1.120                  

38875               TTH 11am-1230pm                 MEZ 1.216                  

38880               MWF Noon-1pm                    MEZ 1.120                  Myers


Alternatively, you may take as your second course a section of:


CTI 304 The Bible and Its Interpreters

Unique                       Time                           Location                     Professor

30180               MWF Noon-1pm                    MEZ 1.208                  Jones

30185               MWF 1-2pm                            MEZ 1.208                  Dempsey

30190               MWF 3pm-4pm                       BEN 1.108                  Dempsey


In choosing courses, please keep Thursdays from 12:30 – 2 free in your schedule if possible, since we often schedule events for Jefferson Scholars then.

A Message from Academic Advisor Nathan Vickers

Hello Jefferson Scholars!!  Congratulations on being chosen for this wonderful opportunity. We look forward to having you this fall, and meanwhile if you need anything, please feel free to contact me.

To reserve space in the courses you have selected, please fill out the Google form that I will email you a link to the week before your orientation session.

On Day Two of Orientation each session, we will have an open meet and greet for freshmen at 130pm with an introduction to our program and time for you to ask any questions. The link for this meeting is also in the email that you’ll get the week before your orientation session.

Nathan Vickers, Academic Advising Coordinator
Department of Government and Jefferson Center
1 University Station A1800, BAT 2.102
The University of Texas at Austin
Austin, Texas, 78712



JSP Fall 2021 Course Descriptions


CTI 301G Introduction to Ancient Greece

This course introduces students to the history, the culture, the religion, and above all the thought of the ancient Greeks. The material for this course will consist almost entirely of primary sources. We will begin with a unit on Greek history in which we will use passages from Thucydides and Herodotus to try to see what was unique about the Greeks and what they saw as unique about themselves. We will then study closely some of the chief literary and philosophic works of ancient Greece, including Homeric Epic, tragedies, and Platonic dialogues.

UGS 303 The Challenge of the Greeks

This course will study works of ancient Greek historians, statesmen, tragic and comic dramatists, and philosophers to explore abiding questions and issues of human existence as they first emerged in the brilliant, tumultuous world of ancient republicanism. We will focus especially on the challenge that philosophic rationalism and science posed to traditional conceptions of justice and religious belief, and the ways in which philosophic thinkers defended their claim to provide the best guidance for life.

CTI 304 The Bible and Its Interpreters

A study of basic religious texts, this course includes both the Hebrew Bible and New Testament, examined from various perspectives (including comparative, historical, philosophical, and literary), with emphasis on the fundamental questions and ideas raised in those texts. The course seeks to develop a wide-ranging familiarity with the Jewish and Christian Bibles and with the dominant modes of ancient, medieval, and early modern biblical interpretation. Readings include an extensive range of primary sources, including both the Scriptures themselves and some of their most influential exegetes.

GOV 312P Constitutional Principles: Core Texts

This class is a study of the basic principles of American political life: democracy, equality, and liberty. Through a close reading of core texts of the American political tradition, we will attempt to see how these ideals took hold in the US, what arguments were made on their behalf, and what possible pitfalls there are for a society dedicated to those ideals. In exploring the theme of equality in America, a substantial unit will study the theme of slavery and race in America and the writings of African-American thinkers.