The Academic Return of the Great Tradition

Join us at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at UVA

The Academic Return of the Great Tradition: A Retreat


We invite you to a two day gathering of leaders in classical education to consider how it was supplanted by progressive education in the United States and how its renewal can be deepened and extended.

Each year the Alcuin Fellowship conducts a retreat for a small group of leaders (and guests) who are part of the renewal of classical education in the United States. This spring, we are hosting a group of 30 people to join us to discuss the prospects for an academic return to the Great Tradition. This retreat is by invitation only, so if you are on this page, you are an invited leader or guest.

This retreat will be hosted by the Institute for the Advanced Studies in Culture on the campus of UVA. The institute facility is collegial and beautiful–an ideal setting for two days of presentations and discussion.

Some remarkable people will be at the retreat, including leaders from most of the organizations who are part of the classical education renewal. We hope you will join us. There is no fee for the retreat and we are glad to provide refreshments throughout our time together. We ask that each participant get a copy of the short book, The Theory of Education in the United States, and read through it prior to coming. 

Reconsidering the Great Tradition at UVA…93 Year after 
Albert Nock



In 1931, Albert Jay Nock delivered several lectures at UVA published in the short book, The Theory of Education in the United States in which he details the recent conquest of the Academy (in about 30 short years from 1900 to 1931) by the fast-rising progressive theory of education. Nock laments the diminishment of the classical education that he calls the Great Tradition and suspects that it will not return to the academy for many years. Now 93 years later, we will gather to consider whether conditions are emerging that make the return of the Great Tradition plausible in the United States, not only for K-12 schools but for our colleges and universities.

All invited guests should read The Theory of Education in the United States and be prepared to discuss his reasons for why progressive education has triumphed, why it failed, and why the Great Tradition of education must remain as a mountain that cannot be moved and scarcely needs defending. 


Schedule and Lectures


Thursday, March 21

  • Pre-Retreat Meetings
  • Guests Arrive
  • Evening Reception: 7:30pm at the Institute

Friday, March 22

    • 8:15am: Continental Breakfast and Coffee
    • 8:30am: Welcome : Nock at UVA in 1931: His Time and Ours
      Christopher Perrin
    • 8:45am: The Principles of Great Tradition Education (with Discussion)
      Dr. David Diener
    • 10:15 am: Nock’s Thought on Education: What He Got Right and What He Missed (with Discussion)
      Christopher Hall
    • 12:00 pm: Lunch (provided by the Alcuin Fellowship on site)
    • 12:15 Lunch Seminar: Notes on the Sacramental Basis of Culture: Toward an Education for Moral Coherence   

             Dr. Elizabeth Lasch-Quinn (Institute Senior Fellow)

    • 2:00 pm: How the Great Tradition Welcomes Great Thought and Great Books without Succumbing to Ideology (with Discussion) 
      Dr. Angel Parham
    • 3:00 Afternoon Discussion
    • 4:30: Dinner on Your Own

Saturday, March 23

    • 7:30-8:00 am: Continental Breakfast
    • 8:15 am: Good and Bad Examples: Strategies for Advancing and Extending Classical Education from Kindergarten to College 
      Dr. Brian Williams
    • 9:15 am: Morning Discussion: Opportunities and Next Steps for Building Momentum to Extend Classical Education
    • Moderators: Brian Williams and David Diener
    • 12:00 pm: Dismissal

Recommended Hotels (within walking distance):

The Graduate

Courtyard by Marriot



Click on the image of each presenter to read a bio.

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David Diener

Professor of Philosophy and Philosophy of Education, Hillsdale College


christopher Hall

Founder, Always Learning Education


angel Parham

Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Virginia

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Brian williams

Dean, Templeton Honors College, Eastern University