Classics For Classics

A brief history...

The idea of Classics for Classics has been to provide a week of serious study of some work of philosophy, theology, or literature - a work that is great and that could be meaningfully discussed in a week of class sessions. We study the classics from Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Boethius, and so on; see the list below. And we intend this for our classics, that is, our alumni and friends of the Univesity who, like the books themselves, only improve with age. The word "serious" in the first sentence needs a comment. CFC is intended for anyone who seriously wants to learn what the great classical authors have to offer and is willing to put some effort (by reading) into this, but "serious" might be misleading for the mood of our annual sessions, which are friendly, humorous, and easy-going. (I do my best each year to repress the humour by providing frequent examples of bad jokes, but the cheerful good nature of the participants always prevails against me.)

The format each year is the same. In the mornings I lecture for two hours on an assigned reading from the text. The lectures are informal, and questions are always encouraged. I do have a set agenda, and I stick to it. Participants every year are respectful and consulent, and the questions are always excellent and help us all to understand the common text. We allow a civilized two hours for lunch, and partiipants generally extend the morning's discussion over their meals. In the afternoons, my university colleagues provide lectures on related topics. These lectures might be on philosophical antecedents or developments of our work, on a related theological problem, on the historical context, on contemporaneous literary works, on relevant art history, and so forth. The afternoon lectures are 45-50 minutes, followed by questions. See the links below for details on what we have done each year.

There are concerts and plays every year that we can attend on some evenings of the week (in order to keep us from preparing too much), and we have a banquet on Thursday evening of the week to celebrate our accomplishments.

The academic arrangements are made autocratically, even despotically, by me every year, and my colleagues (and even some from other universities) have been extremely generous contributors. The Alumni Office (especially Mary Jessie MacLellan and Glenda Bond) do everything else, and that is a lot.

Classics for Classics is an instance each year of the joy of learning. There are no exams, essays, credits, or marking; such academic devices exist in order to force students to learn. That sort of coercion is completely foreign to CFC, where everyone comes out of a desire to learn, a shared desire that becomes obvious within five minutes of any of our sessions. From my point of view, and from that of my colleagues (who ask me every year whether they might give lectures), Classics for Classics is all the pleasure of teaching and none of the pain.

- Steven Baldner -

What's happening this year?

2022 - Due to the pandemic, we have not been able to hold any in-person events since 2020, however, we are happy to announce that things will return to normal this summer. 

Please see below for details...

Classics for Classics: 2022

Classics for Classics will be meeting this summer, 4-8 July, in-person and on campus. We will be reading the five great dialogues of Plato that describe the death of Socrates: Meno, Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Phaedo. The format will be the same as in previous years: lectures on the text in the morning; lectures on related topics from colleagues in the afternoon. The recommended text for this year is: Plato, Five Dialogues: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Meno, Pahedo, translated by G.M.A. Grube & John M. Cooper (Hackett, 2002).

If you have questions about Classics for Classics, contact Steve Baldner (

To reserve a place in Classics for Classics, send a message to the Alumni Office ( 

Hope to see you there!


2018, July 2-6

John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism.

For week's schedule, click here.

2017, July 3-7

David Hume, An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding.

For week's schedule, click here.

2016, July 4-8

St. Augustine’s Confessions.

For week's schedule, click here.

2015, July 6-10

Nicollo Machiavelli, The Prince & Thomas More, Utopia.

For week's schedule, click here.

2014, July 2-6

Thomas Aquinas on Human Nature. Texts from Summa theologiae I, qq. 75-89.

For week's schedule, click here.

2013, July 8-12

Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy.

For week's schedule, click here.

2012, July 9-13

Lucretius, On the Nature of Things.

For week's schedule, click here.

2011, July 11-13

Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics.

For week's schedule, click here.

2010, July 5-9

René Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy.

For week's schedule, click here.

2009, July 13-17

Plato’s Republic.

For week's schedule, click here.


Have a Question?  Get in Touch
Email Phone Write
Dr. Steven Baldner
(902) 867-2115 5005 Chapel Square
St. Francis Xavier University
Antigonish, NS  CANADA
B2G 2W5
Alumni Affairs
(902) 867-2186

Have a picture to contribute? 
Please send them along (identifying which year and any appropriate detail)
to Steve Baldner,