Advanced Formation

Webinar Series

Summer 2020 | (recordings available below)

The Institute’s Advanced Formation Webinar Series gives you an opportunity to read, digest, and discuss Mere Christianity and Beowulf, Tolkien and Dante, Grammar and Rhetoric, Math and Science. In these hour-long sessions, excellent Catholic liberal arts teachers share their insights and address your questions.

The series concludes with a special series on “Math Ancient & Modern.” Three presentations introduce participants to the ancient mathematical disciplines of the Quadrivium, reflect on the profound effects of modern algebraic thinking, and consider the proper role of mathematical science in today’s liberal arts curriculum. 

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July 1: Mere Christianity, Book 1

Dr. Arthur Hippler – Religion Dept. Chair, Providence Academy
As a preparation to defending Christian belief, C. S. Lewis argues that we live in a universe that has meaning and purpose. His starting point — the moral law. How do we know that there is a moral or “natural” law ? Why is law not just a form of “herd instinct” or “social convention” or “social convenience”? How does this law show a “mind behind the universe”?

July 8: Beowulf

Dr. Gregory Roper – Associate Professor of English, University of Dallas
Examine how this great early poem explores the nature of heroism, culture, violence, and evil. Come for a lively lecture and discussion of the main events of the poem, helping you explore the structure and content of this crucial text in the classical curriculum. For ease of reference, it would be best to have the Kennedy translation, but if you do not have it, you can use whatever translation you like.

July 15: “The Rhetoric of Grammar: Why the Simple Sentence Isn’t All that Simple and Other Grammatical Surprises”

Dr. Alyssan Barnes – English Dept. Chair, Live Oak Classical School
This selection from The Ethics of Rhetoric presents a philosophical look at sentence types (simple, compound, and complex) as well as parts of speech (subject, verb, etc.). A truly fascinating  demonstration of how grammar reveals reality.

July 22: “Tolkien and Faerie Tales”

Dr. Andrew Seeley – Director of Advanced Formation, ICLE;
Tutor, Thomas Aquinas College
JRR Tolkien not only wrote great epic fantasy tales, but he reflected deeply on his craft, which he understood as an art of making Faerie stories. This webinar, will explore some central ideas from his classic, “Essay on Faerie Stories”, and how these ideas are embodied in some of the stories reference in the Essay, and his own short story, “Smith of Wooten Major.”

August 5: “Beati pauperes spiritu: Dante meets Beatrice and the rich young man meets Christ”

Luke Macik, J.D. – Headmaster, The Lyceum

August 12 (Part 1): “Coming to Love Contemplation – The Goals of Mathematical Studies in the Ancient World” – Dr. Andrew Seeley

In “The Lost Tools of Learning”, the essay that gave birth to today’s classical liberal arts revival, Dorothy Sayers asserted that mathematics should be taught as a “sub-department of Logic”. An analysis of the preface to The Almagest, Ptolemy’s classic work on astronomy, and Euclid’s presentation of the Pythagorean theorem shows that the ancients saw mathematics as so much more. 

August 12 (Part 2): “High School Algebra and the Training of the Mind: More Harm than Good?” – Dr. Arthur Hippler

Since the early part of the 20th century, algebra replaced geometry as the center of math instruction. But how do the habits of mind algebra creates compare to geometry? This presentation will focus on the contrast between Euclidean geometry and Descartes’s Géométrie.


August 12 (Part 3): “Irrigating Deserts, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Modern Math and Science” – Dr. Merrill Roberts

Joy, Wonder, Love, Freedom… These are not typically the first words that come to mind when a student recalls their initial encounters with symbolic mathematics or the modern mathematical sciences.  On the contrary, these topics are often described as “dry, barren, and monotonous”, leaving our students “bleary, exhausted, and thirsty”.  This session suggests some ways to recapture the perspective of the ancients while preserving the insights and discoveries of the modern disciplines.

For more information on the ICLE Advanced Webinar Series, contact Dr. Andrew Seeley at or 844-425-3832 x701.