What We Believe


At Polis, we believe the liberal arts and sciences have a unique ability to help us think about the most fundamental questions in our lives: How do we communicate skillfully with others? How do we deal with people who are different than us: of different races, different faiths, different genders or sexual orientations, different income brackets? What does it mean to be successful? What type of success will make us happy in the long run? How do we deal with inevitable struggle and loss?

These types of questions can be difficult to consider in the lecture hall, or the online classroom. We believe it’s far more valuable to focus on readers’ responses to the things they read, and promote active, innovative, supple, and critical engagement with these texts. Our classes are intellectually challenging, but always relaxed, spontaneous, and interactive. Discussion and student interaction are what make a Polis class unique.

We aim for a multiplicity of views, and an environment that is diverse in all senses of the word: age, race, gender, education, experience, opinion.

Orthodoxy (Greek: straight thinking) is our enemy. The crucial element is the diversity of interpretations, and seeing how each of these unique views is a direct expression of our individual experience in the world.

We believe that by looking closely at our responses to a text, and engaging with that text together with others, we can effect positive change within ourselves and in the world around us.

The liberal arts and sciences deserve a place in everyone’s life, irrespective of age, title, or tax bracket. This is the idea of a polis: that by studying the many facets of the human condition, getting to know ourselves and each other, we can learn how to be better friends, better neighbors, better human beings. This is what Polis was founded to inspire and celebrate within the Bay Area community.

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