Jaime listening to Brendan TGC 2012 Cropped

The Great Connections


Find the answers you’ve been looking for at The Great Connections Seminars

Colleges do a pretty good job of teaching calculus and the Krebs Cycle.

They know how to test what you’ve learned.

They grant diplomas, which can be important for finding a job.

But do they teach you how to gain the knowledge and skills to take control over the rest of your life and live as a free person?

No, you have to fend for yourself.

But now, there’s a solution…

The Great Connections Seminar.

It’s a one-week summer course for high school and college students that focuses on fundamental life questions such as:

  • How do I know what I know?
  • How do I determine what’s right and wrong?
  • How do I identify the best conditions under which to live?
  • How do I build a life of meaning and creative achievement?

These are the most important questions any human needs to address, but they’re almost never taught in college.

You discover the fundamental practical importance of philosophy. You discuss the links between ideas, between theory and practice, and between choice and action.

We employ classic works with civilization-changing import such as:

  • Livy’s History of Rome, which shaped the early American republic,
  • Francis Bacon’s New Organon, which made rockets and cell phones possible, and
  • Joseph Schumpeter’s Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy, which reveals the power of creative destruction.

We cover a wide range of subjects, from logic to literature, history to mathematics, economics to sculpture.

And we always include important individualist thinkers, such as Carl Menger, Ludwig von Mises, and Ayn Rand, whose ideas are crucial to defending the foundations of a free society.

But what you study is only one potent component of this empowering week. The method we use is as important as the content, click here to learn more.

“It was a wonderful experience of the beauty of ideas, the human mind intellectually stretching at a high level of cognitive functioning—very valuable to me.” Ph.D. Candidate in Applied Physics, Silicon Valley, CA

Ivy Hood

“The Great Connections Seminar was a life-changing experience.”

I realized that the Great Connections dialogues were a truly better way to go about learning. The seminars encouraged me to go about learning myself and to constantly work on developing my own philosophy towards life. Maybe it is cliché to say, but the Great Connections seminar was a life changing experience.

Ivy HoodHohonegah High School, Roscoe, IL
Jake Ilson

“I can get my point across in an otherwise heated argument.”

My mom sent me to the Great Connections Seminar its first year (2009) and I returned the year after. I loved every minute of it, and I see my friends sharing posts about it every summer and think to myself, ‘If only I could go again.’ I have never had such powerful discussions as the one’s I have had over this year’s political snafu. Having learned how to listen and delicately respond, I can get my point across in an otherwise heated argument, and even sway people to see the shortcomings of our current system. I attribute these skills to what I learned from the Great Connections seminars.

Jake IlsonAspiring entrepreneur, Charlotte, NC

We get our stellar results because these life-enhancing principles are embedded in our entire program.

1. Produce evidence and reasoning for all you think and argue.
2. Identify the ideas with which you think and analyze whether they’re based on facts and sound reasoning.
3. Find the cash value of your ideas by consistently connecting your abstractions to concrete reality.
4. Respect the autonomous, reasoning minds of others.
5. Recognize that each individual lives for his own sake, to achieve his highest well-being.
6. Strive for your best achievements and most heroic accomplishments, and seek models in these in every human sphere.
7. Treat others as traders, offering value for value, in the spiritual as well as material sphere.

The beauty of these principles is that they bring out the best, most life-affirming and synergistically cooperative behavior when properly implemented. We do that in our classroom micro-society, and the results are legion.

Student by student, we transform lives, and these students go back to the world, empowered
to turn the tide away from collectivism and towards reason, individualism, and freedom.

Watch the videos on this site or read students, accomplished professionals, and former-students-now-assistant-instructors recount the immense intellectual and practical value in our program.

Our Powerful Principles

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Upcoming Events

  • Empowered Reasoning

    Unleash the power of your mind – acquire the intellectual tools and the self-confidence to come to your own conclusions and put thought into action.

  • Active Minds

    Learn to think first-hand about any subject and develop the ability to question and explore the premises and evidence for any set of ideas, in any subject.

  • Autonomous Individuals

    Strengthen your ability to self-govern, to obey your own imperatives and free yourself by taking control of your education and your life;

Brendan Moore

“I realized how lacking my formal education was.”

The seminar gave me confidence that I could achieve great things. It was like something was lit inside. I acquired the intellectual tools to help me come to my own conclusions. And I realized how lacking my formal education was. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

Brendan MooreCoe College, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Virginia Murr

“Her experience was life-altering.”

My daughter attended the Great Connections Seminar in July, 2013. Her experience was life-altering; a shy, intelligent bookworm who couldn’t care less about politics, civilized debate, logic, or philosophy. Instead, she preferred “practical” knowledge that she could process by herself and put into action. The foundations of this “practical knowledge” were uninteresting to her — before the seminar…And my normally shy daughter made a group of friends in this one week (just seven days!) that she’ll have for a lifetime. As her mom, I couldn’t be more pleased. These kids were all high-achieving, responsible, and intellectually curious … just the kind of kids I love for my children to be around..

(Read more of the five-star review at Guidestar.org website)

Virginia MurrMom of Great Connections student Jessica Murr

Would you like to gain the knowledge, reasoning skills, and confidence in your ability to think independently?

News and Analysis

Ed Professor Doubts Her Students Are Human?

UIC Prof Rochelle Guitierrez complains that the phrase “Pythagorean Theorem” and the cultural emphasis on math prejudices mathematics against non-white students. I guess she thinks these students aren’t human! Mathematical reasoning is a unique function of the human mind. But, it figures, since the anti-reason social justice ideology sees all humans as fractured into physical and social […]

The classroom is a society of its own – in what kind of society do YOU want to learn?

The classroom is a society of its own in which a social order emerges through the exchange of ideas and values and from the way in which participants interact with each other according to the discussion principles and the psychological and physical environment set by the teacher. Many classrooms create a social order with an authority-teacher and follower-students who receive the wisdom of the authority and repeat it back in class, on tests, and in papers and other projects. Does this reflect the characteristics of a free society? We say NO. In a free society, you interact with others as independent individuals, trading value for value. An Active Learning Environment We created our program to strengthen your independence and the value you can offer others. Our program increases your intellectual power, knowledge, self-confidence, and social skills to prepare you to live as a free person. Our teachers use their expertise to craft the entire learning environment: physical, cognitive, psychological, and social for the most beneficial effects. Every element is selected and integrated to empower your independence.

    • The instructor is a guide and facilitator, and you engage in examining, analyzing, and discussing the material first-hand using an evidence-based method.


  • You synthesize the information yourself, rather than have the information and answers handed to you.



  • It is a very active learning environment in which reason is the only authority. This means that the best reasoning along with the best evidence has the ultimate authority in our discussion environment.



These elements work together to strengthen your reasoning skills and confirm the value which you bring to the discussion. Reason’s authority is the great equalizer, because the person with the best facts and ideas is the most persuasive in our setting. You and the other participants come to appreciate each other as mutual helpers in learning. This results in a psychologically safe environment which encourages exploration and creativity. The Seminar as a Market Ultimately, the seminar functions as a market of ideas, skills, and values where reason, combined with the invisible hand of individual self-interest, results in greater knowledge, reasoning, and social skills for all. The values and virtues developed in each person at the seminar help to create the experience of a free, voluntary, and cooperative society. It foreshadows what is possible in a freer future, while giving you the opportunity to practice the art of living free. Our students find themselves liberated and transformed.

Michael Natividad

“You’re benefiting from hearing all these different ways to understand things objectively.” You see how much value you have to offer and to add to your own thinking. It’s not a zero sum game like in traditional education where you’re trying to compete with each other and there’s one answer. It’s not “the right answer”; it’s better and better answers. Everyone’s building a mosaic of truth together. We all study one text but there many objective truths in it, you’re benefiting from hearing all these different ways to understand things objectively and truly. And you realize you have something to contribute. It doesn’t have to be the perfect thing, but together it fits with what other people are saying.

Michael NatividadJunior, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

A Closer Look

Our Great Connections method is unusual and powerful: with anything you discuss you use evidence-based reasoning; the teacher is a skilled guide to the works you study, but reason is the only authority. The week-long program includes:

    • Great Connections-style discussions of classic texts in metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics, esthetics, science and mathematics, economics, history, psychology, literature and the other humanities.


  • The study of logic, introspection, artwork, and architecture.



  • In-depth encounters with accomplished professionals in a variety of fields from finance to physics, medicine to ballet.



  • Trips to factories, scientific laboratories, start-ups, Montessori schools, The Second City Comedy Club, and The Art Institute of Chicago.



To view a detailed description of the program from a previous year, click here.

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The Great Connections Seminar

Would you like to gain the knowledge, reasoning skills, and confidence in your ability to think independently?