Great Books Affiliation

The Great Books Foundation is an independent nonprofit educational organization whose mission is to advance the critical, reflective thinking and social and civic engagement of readers of all ages through Shared Inquiry™ discussion of works and ideas of enduring value.

The Great Books Foundation was established in 1947 to promote the reading and discussion of great literature. In 1962 we extended our mission to children with the introduction of Junior Great Books®. Since our inception, the Foundation has helped hundreds of thousands of people throughout the United States and in other countries begin their own discussion groups in schools, libraries, community centers, and private homes.

Each year, our professional learning consultants conduct hundreds of courses and webinars on the Shared Inquiry™ method of learning. Participants are taught the basics of how to lead and participate in Shared Inquiry discussions. They also learn activities that improve critical thinking, reading comprehension, vocabulary, and writing skills.

What Is Shared Inquiry?

Shared Inquiry™ is a method of learning that enables people of all ages to explore the ideas, meaning, and information found in everything they read. The Shared Inquiry method centers on interpretive questions—questions about a text that have more than one plausible answer. Discussion leaders employ the Shared Inquiry method to get participants thinking, listening, and responding to questions and answers from others in their discussion groups.

When used in schools, the Shared Inquiry method promotes a special relationship between teachers and their students. Instead of presenting the right answer, teachers guide students in reaching their own interpretations and understanding the interpretations of others. Teachers do this by expressing their own curiosity about the selections, posing questions to get students to base their ideas on evidence in the text, and following up purposefully with additional questions that encourage students to look deeper and further define their ideas. For teachers, adopting the Shared Inquiry method provides a consistent approach to instruction that they can employ effectively in a wide variety of subject areas.

Shared Inquiry Course Credit

The University of San Diego has teamed up with Great Books Foundation to offer graduate level course credit to their Shared Inquiry Essentials course participants. Click the link below to register.

Learn more about the University of San Diego's professional growth courses for K-12 educators - 500+ courses offered