some innovative communities in liberal education

This site is a personal celebration of some very special places, and the people and intellectual life associated with them. My intention is to gather links to sites on unusual liberal arts colleges. At this writing, there is only a bit to offer. But with time . . . The most recent changes in this page were made on July 19, 2007.

So the motive to post and develop this site springs from my own experiences, first as a student, then as a faculty member teaching Politics. I studied in the College of the University of Chicago (1950-54) and then, after earning a PhD at Harvard, joined the founding faculty of the University of California at Santa Cruz (1965- .. ).

My professional interests are served by two other sites, and I welcome being told of web sites about colleges with which I am not familiar, such as Black Mountain, Hampshire, Deep Springs, Reed, Berea, and Shimer, by email to me at

Bruce D. Larkin

Selected Liberal Arts Colleges

• The College of the University of Chicago

University of Chicago.

     Search the University of Chicago libraries for materials about and written by Robert M. Hutchins

John W. Boyer, Dean of the College and Martin A. Ryerson Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of History and the College. Originally delivered as Dean’s reports to the College faculty in 1996, 1997 and 1998. [Follow links at the bottom of pages.]

     John W. Boyer. Three Views of Continuity and Change at the University of Chicago. January 1999.

• Cowell College, University of California at Santa Cruz

Cowell College and UCSC opened in September 1965.

     Founding faculty, photo with identifications.

     Bruce D. Larkin, “Cowell. Conclusions. A personal account of the main ‘innovations’ undertaken when Cowell College opened in 1965, and the author’s judgments concerning their fate and significance. 24 August 2002.

     Academic Senate 231ABC: Grading. Final Examination. A multiple-choice final examination on the Grade Point Average. 29 May 1996.

     Panel discussion on Cowell College: Origins & Beginnings, Cowell College Provost’s House, 9 March 2006. Panelists included John Dizikes, Todd Newberry, Tom Vogler, Harry Berger, and Bruce Larkin, all members of the original 1965 faculty of Cowell College and UCSC. [VERY LARGE .mp3 FILE, ALMOST 60 MB, suitable for broadband download only]

     Mailine Wong’s 1992 Senior Thesis in Sociology. She describes it as a study “conducted to assess and evaluate past and present student attitudes toward the UC Santa Cruz Narrative Evaluation System.” [1992]. Ms. Wong is now an attorney in the San Francisco Bay Area.

     Robbie Stockman. “Experimental Activism at UCSC, 1965-1970.” Robbie Stockman graduated from UCSC’s Porter College in 2004, a theater arts major. In 2006-2007 he is working toward his teaching credential in social studies at San Francisco State University and is a substitute teacher in Redwood City, California. He can be reached at

• Black Mountain College

The New York Times of 19 March 2015 describes Black Mountain College, which closed in 1957. The article focuses on Black Mountain College Museum & Arts Center, in Asheville, North Carolina, which seeks to carry on something of the spirit of the college. Carol King, New Life for Cradle of Avant-Garde, The New York Times, March 19, 2015.

• The Web

Does the Web offer a new opportunity for collegiate learning in the liberal arts?

     Katie Hafner, “Lessons Learned at Dot.Com U”, The New York Times, 2 May 2002.


• Gaudeamus Igitur

Gaudeamus Igitur: Words, and a 19th Century notation

The International Student Work Camp at Sakiet-sidi-Youssef, Tunisia. July-September 1959.

The brochure The Sakiet Work Camp—a story of international student solidarity, Coordinating Secretariat of National Unions of Students (COSEC). Supplement to the Information Bulletin.

• Café-Restaurant Gaudeamus (Paris)

“With both the secular schools of Paris Abelard was at one time or other connected. It was during the period at which he taught ‘the liberal Arts’ at Ste Geneviève that his teaching attracted the greatest crowds. For a time the ‘Mount’ of Ste Geneviève became the most famous place of education in Europe. But the external schools of Ste Geneviève appear to have declined, though not to have totally disappeared, by the end of the century. In 1147 the church passed from its secular chapter to a body of Canons Regular imported from S.Victor’s and S.Martin-des-champs; and though there are certainly traces of external schools in the ‘Mount’ after this date, the change was no doubt calculated to drive away secular masters. ... ”

“It was the fame of Abelard which first drew to the streets of Paris the hordes of students whose presence involved that multiplication of masters by whom the university was ultimately formed.”

Hastings Rashdall (F. M. Powicke and A. B. Embden, eds.). The Universities of Europe in the Middle Ages (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1895, rev. ed. 1936), Volume I Salerno-Bologna-Paris, pp. 277-278.

The Gaudeamus Café-Restaurant is unrelated to this site, except by the coincidence of name, but we’ve taken coffee there in the midafternoon and dined there of an evening. We sincerely recommend it as a comfortable café located in the student section of Paris—which was the university center even 900 years ago—and at the edge of the location of the Roman Forum 2000 years ago.

Photos taken on the evening of January 9th, 2009. The narrow street is rue Laplace, taken from the intersection with rue de la Montagne Ste. Geneviève.

Café-Restaurant Gaudeamus, 47, rue de la Montagne Ste-Geneviève, 5e.