Lawrence Dewan Chair


The Lawrence Dewan Chair in Philosophy and St. Thomas Aquinas and Dominican University College are proud to welcome high school students. Whether they are students in the Quebec or Ontario school systems, or home-schooled, the small class sizes at CUD and the availability of its teachers encourage their development.

The Advance Length program allows young people who are interested in philosophy or theology to take university-level courses, one at a time, during, or immediately following high school, usually as early as age 15, but exceptions are possible for younger students. CUD facilitates the transition to the university environment by offering a progressive program designed for each young person who, depending on his or her age and schooling, may begin by taking courses in the HEAD START Program, and eventually enroll in one of the certificate programs, or directly to a degree program.

Contact Sarah Beaudin( to schedule an appointment, discuss options, and meet with a faculty advisor to arrange an interview.

In the time of Socrates, before the creation of Plato’s Academy or Aristotle’s Lyceum, many philosophical discussions took place in the gymnasiums! I can’t imagine going to a gym today to question men or women sweating on various machines! The Greek gymnasiums that Socrates knew were not like that. They were meeting places for teenagers and adults. Physical exercises, but also discussions and exchanges of all kinds, took place. The best description is found in the dialogue entitled Lysis.

Why start this way? Because philosophy began, of course, among experienced adults who came – sometimes unwillingly – to question their assumptions about their knowledge and practices. But it also took place between Socrates and teenagers who would not all have been of “university” age, according to the meaning we now give to this word.

The Head Start program honors this tradition of critical thinking and philosophy. The Dominican University College has therefore begun to offer philosophy courses to young people aged 13-14 to 17-18, both French and English speaking. We did this not through a concerted plan or marketing strategy, but by listening to the repeated requests of youth and parents. Many of these applications and participations have since come from “home schools”. However, more and more, young people in the regular education system are adding a “Head Start” course to their schedule.

Over the years, special introductory philosophy courses have been developed. They have been offered to both small groups of youth (up to 5) and to one person at a time. It was necessary, and still is, to adapt to the specific pedagogical needs of the young people and to their schedules, which are already very busy with the demands of high school and extracurricular activities (music, sports, etc.).

It is a pleasure to introduce them to philosophy, to the arguments of philosophers, and to the complex questions they work on. Being attentive to the way these young people ask questions and think does not displease the philosophy teacher that I am. From one group to another, the paths vary, as does the speed of learning. Since these are college credit courses, the work I ask them to do pushes them beyond the requirements they are used to. It’s a big challenge, but they are succeeding. Many, after the introduction to philosophy course, ask for more. This leads to other specific courses, but also to their integration into the regular courses of the Dominican University College. Some end up completing a certificate. So far, one young person who started in philosophy in this program has obtained a doctorate in philosophy; another is enrolled.

The program achieves its goal if it gives a taste for philosophy. It achieves this just as well if it stimulates attention to arguments and their quality, critical thinking and openness to unusual but fruitful perspectives in order to understand society, both in its successes and in the problems that put it under pressure.

Brother Maxime Allard

The School of Athens by Raphael