On Great Works

On Great Works

Putting Ideas in Action

The Great Works program is a rigorous merging of a great books approach (in the spirit of the core curricula of Columbia University, the University of Chicago, and St. Johns College) and project-based learning (inspired by programs at MIT and Stanford’s d.school). Students approach their learning with an intensive focus on both reading and making designed to achieve the Avenues goal: develop worldwise leaders uniquely equipped to understand and solve global-scale problems.

To that end, the learning experience at each grade-level is structured around a unique and age-appropriate theme with which the world’s greatest thinkers have wrestled throughout history and around the globe. Within these year-long themes, students engage in units of study based on thoughtful pairings of texts—one “STEAM” (or Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) and one “World” (or, the Humanities and Social Sciences)—which are complemented by hands-on projects that nurture creative, real-world connections and spark interdisciplinary thought. Below is a list of the Great Works themes and samples of their text pairings.

Grade Theme Sample Text Pairings
6 Recognition Paulo Coehlo, The Alchemist
Bill Bryson, A Really Short History of Nearly Everything
7 Alienation William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Yoko Ogawa, The Housekeeper and the Professor
8 Solidarity George Orwell, Animal Farm
Edwin Abbott, Flatland
9 Heroism Tsitsi Dangarembga, Nervous Conditions
Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
10 Monstrosity Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis
Peter Singer, Animal Liberation
11 Ideology Claudia Rankine, Citizen
Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World
12 Change Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis
Jared Diamond, Collapse