by Marco Pantaleon

With Great Books Seminar 2021 right around the corner, we take a look back at Great Books Seminar 2020.

Usually conducted in the Universitas Office in Escriva Dr., Ortigas Center, GBS 2020 was instead held online in light of the Novel Coronavirus 2019 or Covid-19. For both participants and organizers, this new format was difficult to adjust to. Relying heavily on free-flowing discussion and debate, the online format for GBS 2020, as with all online meetings and events, had to be heavily mediated. Despite this, GBS 2020 was able to attract new and old faces to its seminars.

An invitation poster of the integration session conducted last December 15, 2020. The integration session concluded GBS 2020 and integrated the key ideas of Competence, Character, and Conscience — the three pillars of Universitas and the key ideas discussed in GBS 2020.

The Great Books Seminar in 2020 revolved around three key ideas: Competence, Character, and Conscience. Participants were given readings in advance in order to appreciate the exchange of ideas. These key ideas, often finding many expressions in modern life, were debated, interpreted, and elucidated by both participants and moderators. While these ideas have been with us since time immemorial, it was clear that the participants all had distinct experiences with each of the concepts that needed to be gelled and elucidated in different contexts for all us to have a shared experience of each of them. All this made for very rich discussion.

GBS 2020 also introduced a new innovation: GBS Forums. The Great Books Forums is a continuing asynchronous discussion where participants can comment, reply, and respond to fellow participants in their own time, during the spaces of time in between seminars. This idea came as a result of the problem that both participants and moderators usually had much more to say than was the time allotted for the seminar. This was a good problem for the Great Books Seminar. It indicated that participants were willing and able to engage with one another. We hope that the innovation of GBS Forums enrichens the debates for all participants in 2021 as well.

Another photo of the participants in the once-a-month GBS seminar of Universitas.

In 2021, the GBS Team is looking to grow the community of participants and consistently deliver quality seminars to be enjoyed by everyone. New innovations are in store too. We can’t wait to share them with you.

One thing we dearly missed was our GBS Margarita Nights — a night when participants can come together, fusing ideas and Margaritas for a colorful night of friendship and fun. We hope that we can hold a Great Books Seminar Session in Universitas Headquarters again soon. Hopefully, in the near future, we can all be pouring Margaritas for each other once again.

‘Til then, we’ll have to settle with fixing our own drinks at home for Margarita Night! See you all in the first Great Books Seminar Session of 2021 on February 15. Details to follow soon!

NOTA BENE: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and the speakers mentioned in the article, and not necessarily to the Foundation.