Kathryn Reed (program director)

"Paideia" (pronounced pie-DAY-uh) is a classical Greek term meaning "education." For the Greeks, Paideia was a wide-ranging education that helped students become intellectually well-rounded citizens who could contribute ideas and solve problems in a free society. Paideia was essentially a liberal arts education. Developed in 1977 at Luther College, Paideia is a signature program. Its endurance testifies to the intellectual transformation afforded thousands of Luther students. This foundation grounds students for success in education and life.

The Paideia curriculum includes three interdisciplinary courses: a common two-semester sequence for first-year students (PAID 111D and 112D), and a series of one-semester courses for juniors and seniors (PAID 450).

Paideia 111/112: Enduring Questions are two first-year sequential semester courses taught by faculty from every academic division. The course provides an introduction to the liberal arts and a base of skills students will use throughout their college experience. Enduring Questions is a course that every Luther student takes; this common element is vital. Throughout the year all Luther first-year students read the same works (though the class assignments related to the works may vary). The best class discussions extend into residence halls and cafeteria tables. Enduring Questions sections allow face-to-face learning, with no more than 19 students per section. Each work in Enduring Questions begins with a large-format lecture in which a faculty member provides an overview. In addition, the author of the summer reading often visits Luther and speaks at convocation.

In Paideia 450, juniors and seniors face ethical challenges and learn to make educated choices. In this one-semester course, students use the critical reading, thinking, and writing skills developed in Enduring Questions to explore an ethical issue.

All of these courses model the ideals of the liberal arts because:

  • the most important questions draw on a range of perspectives for their answers

  • the best answers draw not only on facts but on the wisdom of a well-developed sensibility

  • education develops your potential, not just for a job, but for an active social, political, and inner life

Paideia 450 courses are taught in rotation; therefore, a particular course won't typically be offered every semester. What follows is a representative sample of topics.