The Liberator

Signature Course: Great Ideas

Zoe Klein, Staff Writer

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LASA has been recognized by numerous sources, including the Austin Statesman and Niche.com, as a pioneer of new ways of educating. These great ideas include the signature courses, four unique classes required for all LASA students.

The newest of the courses, Great Ideas, is a philosophy-based class for sophomores. Students study the development of philosophical ideas and are encouraged to think critically and question the world around them. Great Ideas teacher Sade Vallier said they are a big believer in this molding of new ideas for students.

“They are challenged to assess the assertions of those who came before them, and in turn, are able to solidify their own beliefs and the reasoning upon which they are based,” Vallier said. “The topics we cover in the class are relevant to each of us as individuals, and to all of us as a community.”

From the very first day of class, the course aims to introduce prominent historical thinkers that students may not encounter in their core classes. The curriculum covers ancient writings from Aristotle and Socrates to modern thinkers such as David Foster Wallace and Peter Singer.

“I believe there’s opportunity for students to develop confidence speaking and presenting and with hearing ideas which may challenge their own,” Vallier said. “They are challenged to assess the assertions of those who came before them, and in turn, are able to solidify their own beliefs and the reasoning upon which they are based.”

Sophomore Berkeley Adair said she has enjoyed her time in Great Ideas. She sees the course as a gateway to higher thinking. Having never taken a philosophy class before this, she found it to be a good introduction into something she had never considered exploring before.

“People have been asking [questions] for a long time about why people do certain things or are inclined to do certain things,” Adair said. “It has helped us learn how to develop our thoughts more and make things more clear and make insightful connections and how to be more thoughtful about our answers.”

The Great Ideas curriculum is largely centered around discussions and writing assignments. The Dialectical Analysis (DA) assignments can be written about any philosophically relevant topic that piques the student’s interest. Vallier said this lack of structure and freedom to explore through writing is something that students are not used to in their other classes.

“It allows students to view academic material in a way that is very close to their lives,” Vallier said. “This is especially great for those students who may question what application certain academic subjects have to their real lives.”

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Signature Course: Great Ideas