The making of a Great Course: Storytelling and the human condition

Teaching Company giveaways, last chance to register for our conversation on manners in the ancient world with Margaret Visser tomorrow, and more!

Gracious reader,

This week, we’ll explore.

  • The making of a Great Course: an exciting announcement!

  • Give away of THREE, YEAR-LONG, subscriptions to Wondrium (formerly The Great Courses Plus, the Teaching Company’s Netflix-like content streaming service!)

  • Last chance to register for our conversation on manners in the ancient world with Margaret Visser tomorrow!

The making of a Great Course

Back in June, I shared with you that Wondrium, formerly known as The Great Courses, flew me to their studios in Washington D.C. to film a course pilot for them.

I was exhausting and amazingly fun to see the behind-the-scenes process of creating the very content that I was raised on.

Last month, I’m thrilled to share that Wondrium has invited me to teach a full course for them!

My course is called Storytelling and the Human Condition. It will explore how great works of art across genre—films, novels, plays, painting, opera, and more—tell stories about what it means to be human, and what it means to live life well.

As I’ve mentioned, I was raised on Wondrium’s content. Every birthday and Christmas—and sometimes just for no reason at all—my father would bring out new Teaching Company lectures and content to the delight of my little brothers and me.

Wondrium reminds us of two important fact about true education.


Education does not happen exclusively in a classroom

First, education does not happen exclusively in a classroom.

Wondrium content is as much a part of my education as any formal school or institution I attended. In fact, Wondrium’s very existence represents the fact that often the best and most enjoyable learning doesn’t require a classroom at all.

Wondrium embodies an ideal of the original univerity: one does not need a classroom or a building for learning to occur! It can—and indeed, should!— happen anywhere, any time.

Too often our schools and mainstream education institutions actually impede gaining a true education. This is because they do not offer us the opportunity to engage with the highest ideas and biggest questions in life—questions such as:

What does it mean to be human?

What is the meaning of life?

What is the best way to live?

It is only when we encounter these questions—and begin developing answers for ourselves—that we can say our true education has started.

Wondrium resources and lectures offer a remarkable opportunity to foster this true education.


Education should start early and never end

Second, education starts early and never ends.

It is all too common that people feel that when they are done school, their education is over.

That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Wise thinkers form Confucius to Plato have understood that education is a lifelong endeavor. Wondrium is an amazing resources for lifelong learnings, and to all people interested in having having a robust life of the mind after our education has ended.

Even today, I’m constantly listening to a Wondrium lecture series in the background of my everyday.

Learning is, for me, like breathing. It’s a way of life.

That is why I’ve created this community. Civic Renaissance is a place for people who are passionate about education in its truest sense. It is a place to encounter the highest things. It is a venue to nourish and cultivate our curiosity. At core, this space is for people who love to learn.

I’m thrilled to partner with Wondrium because they are passionate about these things, too.

Quick note about my course: It will be 12 lectures in length, and, as mentioned, in each lecture I’d like to explore what great works of art—books, novels, theater, opera, poetry, painting, sculpture, cinema and more—reveal to us about the human condition.

What are YOUR favorite works of art in these genres? What genres am I missing?

Send me your ideas of plays, paintings and poems to include and unpack for their insights into the human condition.

Write to me directly at

I’d love to hear from you!

Give away: THREE, YEAR-LONG subscriptions to Wondrium’s streaming service

To celebrate, I’m giving away THREE, YEAR-LONG subscriptions to Wondrium’s online streaming service. You can stream thousands of hours of content on everything from this history of Rome, to the classics of English Literature—to the course I’m listening to right now on Mohammed, Buddha, Jesus and Confucius!

There are two ways to enter to win one of these three subscriptions.

  1. Tweet this article!

    Tweet to enter!


  2. Send me an email ( with WONDRIUM in the subject line—and additional consideration will be given to entrants who including your favorite work of art in the body :)

Manners in the ancient world

Don’t forget to join our conversation tomorrow about manners and social norms in antiquity with Margaret Visser!

Register now!

If you’re interested in joining our exclusive, subscriber-only conversation with Margaret, occurring 30 minutes prior to the public event, consider subscribing! I’ll then personally send you the information to join our private dialogue.

Thank you for being part of this community!