The mission of the Arete Project is education towards its highest ends: the cultivation of wisdom, the living of a good life in thought and action, and selfless devotion to world and humanity.
Arete builds this education around three central pillars: rigorous engagement with the liberal arts, physical labor undertaken in service of the land and community, and student self-governance over each other and the organization as a whole.Arete conducts its programs in a human context and on a human scale: in small, close-knit communities and rural and wilderness settings; through meaningful relationships between students, faculty, and staff; and through demanding intellectual and physical work on which the community depends.
Arete regards its students as beneficiaries, rather than consumers, of their educations: tuition and administrative expenses are kept to a minimum, and no student is turned away for inability to pay.
Our purpose is to expand upon the educational models pioneered by L.L. Nunn in the early 1900s. Nunn’s organizations were designed to prepare servant leaders, and he structured his programs around three pillars: academics, labor, and self-governance. For the past several summers, the Arete Project has given college-aged women the unique opportunity to intensively engage in these areas during an 8-week summer program, which was held on an organic farm in Sebastopol, CA in 2014, and then beginning in 2015, on the campus of the Arthur Morgan School in Celo, NC, in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
What is arete?
The term arete designates the highest human potential, the “best that we can be.” The concept of arete dates back to ancient Greece, and is found throughout the writings of Homer, Plato, Aristotle, and their intellectual descendants. It is often translated as “virtue” or “excellence,” but encompasses much more—in various times and in various places, the term has been associated with bravery, cooperation, justice, loyalty, intelligence, compassion, diligence – while ultimately transcending them all. The Arete Project takes an expansive view of human excellence, balancing together the uniqueness of each student’s potential and the flourishing of the community in which they live.
The Arete Project provides an educational program for college-aged women that emphasizes democratic participation and leadership, sustainability and connection to nature, personal and communal responsibility, and intellectual excellence. It combines a top-tier liberal arts academic programming with a practical education in stewardship and citizenship, supported by the three pillars of academics, labor, and self-governance. All participants will be held to the ground rules: (a) isolation on campus, encouraging introspective and intensive engagement with the community and (b) a strict policy forbidding the use of drugs, tobacco, and alcohol. Apart from these foundational regulations – along with required engagement with the three pillars – the task of self-governance will see all participants active together in creating and maintaining their own polity.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
The Arete Project strives to foster an educational space in which all people are respected and valued. We have therefore adopted the following goals to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion within our organization:
- Ensuring diverse student cohorts. We believe that true education builds understanding across divides, requiring students from heterogeneous backgrounds. We honor this vision by keeping our programs nearly free and by actively recruiting underrepresented voices.
- Creating an inclusive educational space. Through shared experience, honest dialogue, and an ethic of care, we build a learning community where all identities are affirmed and all voices heard.
- Building a vibrant, equitable leadership team. As we grow, we are dedicated to increasing the diversity of our team along many axes, striving particularly to bring people of color into our leadership.