Each semester, the Newman Institute offers a selection of undergraduate, accredited humanities courses. In these courses, college students have the opportunity to wrestle with some of the primary questions of human existence: What is life’s purpose and meaning? How should we live? What should we love? From a wide range of majors and interests, our students come together in pursuit of a common end — growth in wisdom. For many of our students, these courses prove some of the most significant in their college career.

These classes have no prerequisites, and are designed to be taken in any order. Tuition is $600 per course ($200 per credit hour) and is due by the first class meeting.  If you wish to audit, tuition is $300. If you have questions or would like to be notified regarding upcoming offerings, please contact us. We would love to hear from you.



*The courses below are currently in session. Fall 2018 offerings will be listed here in mid-March.

ENG 244 – Introduction to the Great Books II: The Literature of Mercy, Compassion and Forgiveness

Meetings: Tues & Thurs, 2:00 – 3:15pm, UNL Newman Center

Instructor: Dr. John Freeh, Director of the Newman Institute

Credit Hours: 3

 “Our twentieth century has proved to be more cruel than preceding centuries,” Nobel laureate Alexandr Solzhenitsyn once famously remarked, adding that the “world is torn asunder by the same old cave-age emotions as greed, envy, lack of control” and “mutual hostility.” This second-semester introduction to the Great Books seeks to provide insight with respect to the problem of human cruelty and suggest remedies through a deeper understanding of mercy, compassion and forgiveness. One such remedy comes through Shakespeare’s Jewish moneylender, Shylock, who implies that mercy is possible only when human beings see the “other” as somehow related to themselves. “Hath not a Jew eyes,” he poignantly asks his Christian adversaries, going on to argue the case for a common humanity which transcends any and all differences.

 Required Texts: Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice; Shakespeare, Measure for Measure; Chaucer, The Franklin’s Tale; anonymous, Everyman; Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter; Greene, The Power and the Glory; Newman, The Dream of Gerontius; shorter readings as assigned


HUM 253 – Humanities Seminar II: The Mystery of Iniquity

Meetings: Mon & Wed, 3:30 – 4:45pm, UNL Newman Center

Instructor: Dr. John Freeh, Director of the Newman Institute

Credit Hours: 3

“Today I have set before you life and death, a blessing and a curse, choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live.” With these words the Hebrew book of Deuteronomy underscores the “mystery of iniquity,” that human tendency to choose what is destructive of self and others.  If, as Origen says in the 3rd century, “the power of choosing good and evil is within the reach of all,” why does humankind continue to choose evil? And how can we comprehend the claim of Satan in Milton’s Paradise Lost that “only in destroying I find ease”? The battle between good and evil lies at the heart of the human story, and some of literature’s most memorable characters – Medea, Faustus, Macbeth, Raskolnikov – provide a foundation for beginning to explore and perhaps understand this ancient “mystery.” By looking at these and other characters, as well as relevant texts from philosophers and theologians, this three-credit course will attempt to discover patterns of thought and action in those who embrace evil – and in those who reject it.

Required Texts: Euripides’ Medea; Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus; Shakespeare’s Macbeth; Milton’s Paradise Lost; Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment; Conrad’s Heart of Darkness; Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral; shorter readings as assigned