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

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!

Lorraine Pangle                                            Thomas Pangle
Professor of Government                           Joe R. Long Chair in Democratic Studies
Co-director, Thomas Jefferson Center     Co-director, Thomas Jefferson Center


Looking Ahead


Suggested Summer Reading

Since all Jefferson Scholars will be taking a course on ancient Greece in the fall, for those of you who would like to do some background reading we suggest especially H. D. F. Kitto’s The Greeks.

Preparing for Orientation

Please carefully review our registration information before you come to your orientation session.

Opening Lecture

Please mark your calendars for our opening lecture and pool party on August 26. We look forward to seeing you then!