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Marsha Enright and the Great Connections Seminars

Marsha Enright and the Great Connections Seminars

4 Mins
March 4, 2015

Colleges do a pretty good job of teaching calculus and the Krebs Cycle. They know how to test what you’ve learned. They grant diplomas, which can be important for finding a job. But do they teach you how to gain the knowledge and skills to take control over the rest of your life and live as a free person?

Marsha Enright and Liz Parker, from RIFI

Through her Reason, Individualism, Freedom Institute (RIFI), education pioneer Marsha Enright runs the week-end and week-long Great Connections Seminars for high school and college students, and working and retired adults, using the Classics and modern texts across the ideological spectrum, including classical liberalism, free market economics, and the philosophy of a free society.

It's a one-week summer program that focuses on fundamental life questions such as:

  • How do I know what I know?
  • How do I determine what’s right and wrong?
  • How do I identify the best conditions under which to live?
  • How do I build a life of meaning and creative achievement?

These are the most important questions any human needs to address, but they’re almost never taught in college.

In her seminars, you'll discover the fundamental practical importance of philosophy. You discuss the links between ideas, between theory and practice, and between choice and action.

The institute employs classic works with civilization-changing import such as:

  • Livy’s History of Rome, which shaped the early American republic,
  • Francis Bacon’s New Organon, which made rockets and cell phones possible, and
  • Joseph Schumpeter’s Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy, which reveals the power of creative destruction.

From participants:

“My brain switched into a higher gear”

“The Great Connections Seminar was a life-changing experience.”

“I gained a whole new confidence that I could grasp anything.”

Attendees at our annual Atlas Summit have the chance to enroll in seminars conducted by Enright. We also offer scholarships to the Summit, which is held every summer.

The Reason, Individualism, Freedom Institute (RIFI), a non-profit educational organization devoted to fostering active minds, empowering each individual with the knowledge, reasoning skills, and independence to understand the world and build a life of adventure and creative achievement.

About Marsha Enright:
Marsha became riveted with the problems of education when, as a child, she found herself in love with learning and school while surrounded by other children who were miserable. This was a mystery to her; she did not want such misery to befall her future children. It led her on a life-long quest for effective and enjoyable education.

During college, she discovered the ideas and methods of Maria Montessori which presented ingenious and psychologically effective means of creating a happy hotbed of learning for young students. In 1990, Marsha founded Council Oak Montessori Elementary School as a place for her own children to learn.

With this project, Marsha took the idea for a new elementary school in March of 1990, to the opening of the school with a first class of 17 students and a full staff in September 1990. The school reached an enrollment of 75 a few years later, and successfully continues to this day with about 100 students ages three to fourteen years old. In the October, 2006 and 2011 issues of Chicago Magazine , Council Oak was named one of the top 25 private elementary schools in Chicago.

As Marsha’s expertise in education grew, so did her concern and discontent with higher education. She saw more and more students graduating from college unequipped to think for themselves and lacking important knowledge and life skills, as well as the most basic understanding of what is necessary for a fully free society. Most frighteningly, these included many students from the ‘best’ universities in the U.S. such as Harvard, the University of Chicago, and Stanford. Marsha was alarmed at the problems and unhappiness caused by these developments, as well as the threat they pose for civil society.

At this point, equipped with considerable breadth and depth of knowledge about the most effective means of education and fearful of the grip that collectivism in all its forms had on higher education, Marsha became convinced that the country needed a higher education program, dedicated to reason, individualism and a fully free society. She initiated the development of the project and the search for other team members.

Marsha resides in Chicago, Illinois.

About the author:
Personal Growth